As I was driving my niece to softball practice today I decided to give her some advice on her hair care. She is obsessed with her hair (as most little girls are because of sexism), and she asked me earlier this morning if the house had a flat iron to which I told her we did not.
As I began to talk to my niece about black care management, I told her that the best thing she could do to grow her hair is to keep it braided and keep it moisturized. While giving my niece this advice something stuck out in my head. I instantly thought of the way that sexism often takes little black boys and little black girls on separate journey’s when growing their hair out.
Let me ask you a question.
How many times have you seen a little black boy with braids down his back, but a little black girl whose hair can barely fit in a ponytail?
What is the difference? Sexism. Parents almost always let little boys hair grow naturally. They don’t saddle little black boys hair with perms, gels, or other products, but when it comes to little black girls they do products galore, and this effects hair growth and health. I think this double standard in black hair growth plays a role in why little black girls hair receive so much damage, and often doesn’t grow as well or isn’t as healthy.
I know many parents who have a little boy with braids, with hair that is healthy, and down to his back, but his sisters hair is breaking off and short. The reason for this is almost always that the parents took a natural approach to the boys hair, but took a chemical, processed approach to the girls hair. The boy gets his hair braided and moisturized at the most, but the little girl gets perms, weaves, gels, and whatever else the parents can think of to make her look “girly.”
Why is it that we allow our sons to grow their hair naturally, but force out daughters down a path of chemicals and processors?
While Chris Rock is to be noted for his documentary “Good Hair,” he didn’t examine the origins of problematic views on black hair which begin in childhood. Far too many little girls are told that their hair is only desirable when chemicals have processed it. We let little boys off the hook by often giving them permission to have nappy hair, and by allowing them to grow their hair naturally when, or if, they decide to rock braids or twists.
Black men almost never resort to thousands upon thousands of products to grow their hair out. That expectation isn’t there. Black women can take a cue from black men when growing their hair. Less is more. (sexism will make this difficult, but its worth it)
I’m not sure what my thoughts add to the overall natural hair debate, but the role sexism plays is one that I think should be examined more. Sometimes the best way to let your hair be all that it can be is to simply let it be. Step away from the million products.