As a child one of my favorite books was Afrotina and the Three Bears by Fred Crump Jr. As an adult, I now realize that it was not the Goldilocks storyline that attracted me to the text but rather the image of a girl who looked like me on a book! Afrotina presented my reality as a fairytale, full of fabulousness, and fantasy. While my mother increased my literacy by purchasing my beloved book, she simultaneously taught me to love my hair!
Fast-forwarding about twenty years into present day, the journey of teaching our children to love their hair still exists. While there is no one size fits all approach to teaching children anything, below I have compiled a list of ways through which we can teach our children to love their hair:
- Highlight Historical Importance: Both during Black History Month and all of the other months of the year we can expose our children to the legacy of our hair culture. For example, we can introduce them to the lives of Annie Turnbo Malone and Madame C.J. Walker respectively as community and business leaders. We can also share historical facts with our children about how hairstyles literally hold meaning such as instances in which maps where braided into hair during enslavement.
- Explain the Biological and Physical Purpose of Hair: While hair is fun for us to style and touch amongst other things, the central purposes of hair on the head are cooling, heating, and protection. Promoting this notion can increase understanding about the body and decrease anxiety about hair once adults explain that indiscriminate of trivial factors/ differences such as length and texture we all have hair for the same reasons as human beings.
- Make Their Hair Fun: Let children take part in hair care and styling. While people have wait until their teen years to begin formal training in beauty/hair in most places in the U.S., they do not have to wait to begin the learning process. By allowing children to moisturize their hair, comb it, brush it etc. (with or without supervision) they can exercise independence while cultivating grooming practices and having fun.
- Engage Their Texture During Play: Most baby dolls have soft hair, but if we use, create, or buy dolls of varying textures children can see their hair as fantasy too. By associating their reality with fantasy, children can have an increased sense of excitement and broader imaginations in reference to their hair. Children can also engage in cosmetologist or barber role play with these sorts of exercises.
- Use Verbal Encouragement: Tell children their hair is beautiful on a regular basis!
How and why we have to teach our children to love their hair is a grand issue for adults to contemplate; however, hair remains an important factor in life societally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and otherwise-specifically for people of color. Thus, before we leave our boys and girls to the vices of others and the world at large in reference to instilling appreciation and confidence, let’s use the previously mentioned tips and others as a means of teaching our children to love their hair.