Last night was Hair Night. This is the night I pull out the HUGE straw beach tote that is stuffed to the gills with Zip-Loc bags holding rubber bands, hair bows, barrettes, hair grease, edge control, combs, brushes…you get the idea. I sit my babies down and either turn on a television show or hand them my phone to watch kid appropriate videos while I do their hair. Last night’s process was long. I started at 3:50p.m. with Little A. I didn’t finish with her until 5:30p.m. Then it was Honeybee’s turn. Bee didn’t want to watch television. She wanted to look at hair videos. I’d pulled up one earlier to see if I could figure out how to do flat twists on her hair. The video was still playing and my Honeybee was in awe.
“Mommy, her hair looks like mine!”
And it did. The same short, coarse Afro that my baby had been sporting the entire week because I wanted to give her hair a rest from bands and twists. As I greased and parted her hair, the mother of the little girl in the video did the same thing. Again, my Honeybee was amazed.
“Mommy, she’s doing what you are doing!”
I smiled because she was so excited. I realized that I’d never shown her hair videos before. On occasion, she would watch me seek ideas for her sister’s hair, but her hair was much longer and of a different texture than hers. Here was a video that was totally my Honeybee. The little girl easily could have been a sister of hers. And then…the video changed.
After the mother finished parting and puffing the little girl’s hair, she pulled out faux hair from a plastic package. She began twisting the hair around the puffs, then began the process of braiding the hair. The little girl was getting hair extensions. My Honeybee went through the roof.
“MOMMY!!! Look at her hair! Ooooh, it’s so pretty! Can you do mine like that?”
“Look, her hair is long now! It’s pretty! I want my hair like that!”
Guys, I found myself saddened at her excitement. I know she has been dealing with a bit of self-confidence issues when her friends and her sister rock intricate braid patterns and hair styles because they have the length to do so. She has asked me over and over again to put her hair in a ponytail. It’s just not long enough to do that. She loves the bantu knots and tiny afro that she rocks, but her options are severely limited. Chemical processing is NOT an option. Instead, I have been telling her how amazing she is. How beautiful her afro is. How smart and gorgeous she is. Still, hearing her practically salivate over the shoulder length braids that existed on a head that thirty minutes before had been no longer than my thumb made me feel that I’d failed her. She now wants those extensions.
Truth be told, until I saw the video, I didn’t even think that was an option for her. I just thought that since her hair was so short, we’d have to work at getting it to grow before we could actually do something with it. Now, my five-year-old was practically giddy at the thought of her short hair being perfectly styled into braids with pretty bows. I don’t know what to do.
Part of me knows the importance of self-confidence and self-esteem is such that any healthy assistance to that is a blessing, not a curse. But, I don’t want my daughter to think that she has to have these extra things to be beautiful. So what do I do? I’ve kind of frowned at children her age receiving extensions, not necessarily for aesthetic reasons, but the belief that they hair wasn’t strong enough for such manipulation yet.
Am I wrong? Do I set aside concern and the desire of individuality to allow Bee the chance to erase the internal sadness she has when I explain that I can’t make her hair into a ponytail like her sister, or even her brothers (when playing with ‘man-buns? Do I make an appointment with someone to add braids to her hair? I honestly have no idea.
Any guidance from my parents out there?