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Hair Care

My Daughter is Natural, I Have a Perm

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It can be very challenging to raise a child with natural hair when you yourself sport a perm. Some may think it’s flat out hypocrisy to encourage your child to keep and embrace that natural hair when you supposedly had yours permed the first chance you got. But the reality is that straightening your hair and wanting your child to love and embrace natural hair are not mutually exclusive.

As with everything else in life, the hair style any of us chooses to sport is a personal choice. Because our children are not old enough to make choices of this magnitude for themselves, the choice lies with the parent, and that too should be personal and free from public criticism. As a child I had natural hair until the fifth grade. It was permed because my mother simply couldn’t manage the hassle of washing and combing the tangled tresses every week.

In the earlier stages I also had the same challenges combing my daughter’s hair. But unlike my mother, I now have alternatives like the Natural Hair Kids website and many other naturalistas tell help me along the way. Today, thanks to the revolution which has resulted in more and more black women embracing their kinky hair, things are very different for me than they were for her. There are a wealth of products available for natural kinky hair and there are even ways to make natural hair products at home, as I recently discovered after buying the DIY Natural Hair Recipe Book. When my mother permed my hair, she did it out of necessity, but today I don’t need to do that for my daughter. With the products I make at home using ingredients in my kitchen (and a few from health food stores) I am able to nurture and groom my daughter’s hair without half the fuss my mother encountered when she tried to groom my hair as a little girl. In fact, some of these natural products I make also help my permed hair. With some of the chemicals used to straighten my hair it can become dry and brittle but I’ve taken steps to find remedies that help to protect it and they are as natural as the ones I use in my daughter’s hair.

Sure, sometimes in her childish wisdom and audacity she will challenge me and ask why my hair is different from hers, but I have no problem explaining to her. At this point in my life it would not be easy to transition to natural hair but if I make that decision it will be because I am ready to do so and not because I feel pressured to do it. And I think that, more than anything else, is what I want my daughter to learn. That ultimately, it is not whether she has a perm or natural locks that matters, but how she sees herself regardless of how her hair looks. As she gets older, she too, will have to make her own choices and my hope is that her choices will be based on the right variables, for the right reasons. Right now, while I can, I want to instill an appreciation for natural hair in her. I want her to understand that it is a choice…her choice.

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