Friday, October 1, 2010

Young Girls and Their Hair

Yesterday at work, I had to handle a little 4th grader called "A" crying because of her hair. The kids were about to start their cooking activity when I noticed the girls clamoring over A, who was literally holding down her loose caramel-colored strands and crying about how she was going to get in trouble because her braids had unraveled. I'll braid it! the girls were yelling at her. At first I was going to let them deal with it, but she was becoming increasingly upset and they were the same girls I have notice that tease her and leave her out of things as she struggles to fit in.  So I took her to the side to try and calm her down.

What's the matter? I asked.

My hair came out of the braids and my mother is going to be upset! A cried. I just hate my hair! I hate it! 

It's okay, I said. Do you want me to re-braid it?

She said yes, so I took her to the bathroom so she could see in herself in the mirror. While braiding I asked her about why she hated her hair. She started telling me how she wanted hair like M (the same young lady who has been begging me to straighten my hair so I can look "pretty.") and that everyone teases her about her hair being ugly and smelling funny except her mom. I told her I thought her hair was very beautiful (I mean that, she has lovely hair) and that her mom wasn't lying and how cool I thought it was that her mom took the time to care about making her hair pretty. I mentioned how both of us had similar hair and let her touch my braids. She smiled and I could tell she was feeling better. I finished re-braiding and reminded her that everyone had different hair and that everyone's hair was just right for themselves. I even shared with her how people teased me when I was her age about my hair and looks. It made me happy that she left the bathroom glowing.

When I brought her back to the group activity, I saw that the same girls were giving her stank looks and attempted to tare her down again. But she ignored them and I moved her away from them. It had to be done. It's not the other girl's fault that they adhere to the beauty standards shoved down their throats but I find myself each day turning into some sort of...role model? I don't know. I'm very cautious with how I carry myself and how my hair looks and I'm feeling very self conscious about straightening my hair because I don't want to show the girls that I want to satisfy anyone but myself.... Anyway, if anyone has children or deals with them on a constant basis, please share if anything like this has happened and how you dealt with it.

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely story. I also struggled with hair issues at a young age. I received a relaxer when I was 6 and my hair always broke off. I was called bald-headed and told I looked like a boy until I was in high school. I wish my mother would've loved my unique texture enough to not have relaxed it until I was old enough to care for it properly.


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