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Insecure, Teenaged 40 year old?

I don’t know what it is, but seeing my family makes me revert to my insecure teenage self when I was just as likely to think that I was going to be the next President of the United States as I was to feel like a nerdy, unattractive social outcast. I, like most us want to please my parents. But, they haven’t seen me for awhile and my waist is three inches bigger than what they’re used to. Plus, I am four+ months after the Big Chop and while I LOVE my twist-out, this style is definitely an acquired taste.


My heart is racing, I have a bit of agita and I’m getting a nervous headache. About to make an important presentation? Being chased by an assailant? No, nothing like that. I’m about to see my Southern family for the first time in a few months. I don’t know what it is, but seeing my family makes me revert to my insecure teenage self when I was just as likely to think that I was going to be the next President of the United States as I was to feel like a nerdy, unattractive social outcast. What is this all about? Why do these feelings emerge? I guess it’s natural…I, like most us want to please my parents. But, they haven’t seen me for awhile and my waist is three inches bigger than what they’re used to. Plus, I am four+ months after the Big Chop and while I LOVE my twist-out, this style is definitely an acquired taste. I’m wondering if its positive reception is affected by the fact that we live in the North. As I’ve blogged before, I’ve heard that the South may not be as hospitable to natural hair (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/11/north-more-hospitable-to-natural-hair.html).

Despite this angst, I’m going to rock my same self and see what happens. I’ll be sure to share the details. :)

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Interracial Friendship: How do we learn?

I continue to be amazed by the huge response to the topic of interracial friendship and how to talk to our children about difference. An excerpt from one reader’s post expresses concern about discussing the topic because while children are inquisitive adults shouldn’t be asking questions:

“Let me explain. First, children are very inquisitive. They are constantly in search of knowledge and basic understandings about life. Hence, asking questions or differentiating between two things, helps them make sense of their world. Without this ability, children will not be able to learn right/wrong, appropriate/inappropriate. While asking, “if you are black?” may seem like a harmful question, I think given the context, it may have just been an exploratory question that could have been a teachable moment, not only for your kids, but for the person asking the question.

However, I think question asking should be only be for children. I have no idea why adults are asking questions that aren’t even relevant, such as “Is that your real hair?” That question is loaded and not even important. Questions like that, I feel, are inappropriate. As an adult, we should ask questions that are appropriate given the context. I dislike when people assume “you do things differently” because of your skin color. I dislike assumptions that are made, and then carried out through questions. Specifically questions that originate from stereotypes, which I think most adults seek to confirm/disconfirm through question asking. People should think first, “Am I asking a question that is based upon a stereotype?,” “Am I making assumptions?,” “Is this question relevant?” IF not, the question should not be asked.”


I think the reader raises very good points. A few questions: SHOULD adults just know better? How do you address the fact that even in 2011 many people grow up in segregated environments and may not know much about peoples of other ethnicities? What do you all think? Also, what resources have you all used to educate yourselves about difference? Any resources you’d recommend for children?

  • a donovan

    Some colleges have programs that connect families with international students for a year. Also good togo to other neighborhoods to shop, eat and attend cultural events. Visit a church that has different demographics than our regular place of worship Also be intentional about visiting disabled, elderly and others who are not seen enough.

  • topie

    Hi a donovan! What great ideas! Have you ever participated in one of the college programs or do you know of anyone who has? I love the idea! I also have an idea is to have a domestic student where students with different backgrounds (e.g., socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc.) live with each others' families for a period of time. Do you ever go to churches with different demographics? I feel that that is part of God's purpose for my life: to join churches that are different than me on multiple levels to help build bridges in the Body of Christ. Good point about visiting the elderly and disabled. So many people communities are virtually invisible and we can work to change that. Thanks for your comments!

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Interracial Friendship and self-discovery

Image found at: http://www.valleyadvocate.com/blogs/gallery/175/colorfulchildren.jpg

My mind has been whirring as I reflect on the interracial friendship “issue” that my daughter recently encountered at a local beach. Ugh. I definitely think that I allowed my personal baggage to interfere when I responded to the little girl’s question about whether or not my daughter was black and the little girl’s comment that my daughter’s hair was very, very short. I in no way want to burden my daughter with my issues. However, I also don’t want her burdened with other folks’ issues. I truly believe that the little girl was curious and learning how to explore difference. Yet, too many times it feels that majority folks don’t train their children on the best way to go about it. They are allowed to ask, say whatever comes to their mind because “they are just children” after all. Well, some of those questions, inquiries, comments, statements, etc. can be offensive. I think it is imperative that we as parents be the vanguard to teach our children that they will encounter people who are different than they are and that the best bet is to first develop a relationship with people without bombarding them with questions. Plus, if you really have to know, ask your Momma first! Just my opinion. What do you all think?

I love the fact that the blog is opening up conversation about this topic. One of my girlfriends from New York had this to say:

“I also wanted to share something that Part 1 reminded me of. It made me wonder when I learned the social construct of calling myself “white.” I was visiting my parents recently and found an old blue book from second grade (the contents of which were very amusing!) Anyway, one of my stories was a description of myself and I described myself as having peach skin. I’m sure that’s because I always used the Peach Crayola to color pictures of myself. It’s funny though, because it’s actually a more accurate description.


Yes, we all are on a journey of self-discovery and learning about those around us. I hope that this is a safe space for you to share your honest thoughts and opinions. Please chime in! J

  • topie

    Sue, can you explain what you mean by "that is one for the cultures"? I want to make sure I understand before I respond. Thanks again for posting your comments! 😉

  • a3dfc142-8cc3-11e0-8a41-000bcdcb471e

    Just meant that culturally there are some different standards. As I stated my family had specific norms they adhered to. There are others who would suggest that my looking them in the eye while talking to them is a matter of disrespect. I have also run into individuals who feel it is OK to talk about peoples finances. As you have stated in your next post , it is a matter of explaining to our children what we believe they should understand,how they should act and how to react to things others say. We as parents of diverse backgrounds cannot always nail everything our children may run into,we should teach them a little tolerance of others ignorance.We must also teach them to use their heads when speaking out either on their own thoughts or against someones ignorance.

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Hair Disaster: Parenting When Children’s Hair Hurts

Image found at: http://madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/a40fd113-bacc-e3a0-7966-d60f563b8565-News_BB_Crying_Girl.jpg

There are some days that go down in history and yesterday morning was one of them. I took one look at Chase’s shriveled up hair and knew that her daily swimming excursions at summer camp were wreaking havoc on her afro puff. I’d spent love and time creating beautifully puffy puffs, detangling with Kinky Curly, sealing in moisture with organic coconut oil, slicking back with Eco Styler gel. The puffy puffs lasted one day. One trip to the neighborhood pond with her summer camp and her hair shrank. That wasn’t the problem, the problem was that her hair had shrunk with product in it. Yup, she know had a crunchy, crinkly mass of kinks on her tender head. Of course, the last few days have been super busy for me as I’ve closed out the fiscal year end at work and attended birthday celebrations. So, rather than wash my daughter’s hair, I’ve been misting it with water, applying more gel and brushing it into an afro puff (one that grew slightly smaller and less puffy with each passing day).

Can you say, HUGE mistake? By yesterday morning (a Friday), my daughter’s hair was extra crunchy and I HAD to comb it out. Even a wide tooth comb was causing my daughter excruciating pain. I told her that she needed to wear her swim cap to protect her hair when she went to the pond. Oh my goodness. My sweet little girl broke my heart when she turned to me and told me that she didn’t want to wear it because everyone will tease her. In earlier posts I’ve mentioned that we live in a predominantly white community (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/loc-wearer-on-hunt-for-salon-in-boston.html). My daughter is keenly aware of the fact that she would be the only child sporting a swim cap and I can’t blame her for not wanting to be teased. Tomorrow, I’ll share how we handled this sensitive parenting moment. Also, please share how you all would handle your child’s hair in this situation. Swim cap? Conditioner every night? What would you do?

  • a3dfc142-8cc3-11e0-8a41-000bcdcb471e

    Not sure Tina but I used to hate swim caps also . They actually pull your hair putting them on and off

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Our Children are Affected by Our Hair Choices

Image found at: http://www.essence.com/images/mt/little_girl.jpg

The plot thickens. I’ve been playing in my hair for the last 48 hours to see just how much length I’ll have once I cut off my locs. I’ve been reading natural hair blogs and books. Actually, just finished reading Thank God I’m Natural by Chris-Tia E. Donaldson (I give this book a huge thumbs up; it’s a great, quick read with comprehensive content: http://thankgodimnatural.wordpress.com/book/). The book and other sources have told me that, in some cases, it’s possible to take locs down though it can cost $250 to $500 to get it done in a salon. I have never spent that much on my hair and don’t know if I’m willing to now. It helps that I LOVE a TWA and that my husband says he looks forward to it again if that’s what I want. Plus, I get to swim on a daily basis if I want to (there’s a whole different discussion about putting on a swimsuit…okay, I really have issues) HAHA.


I think it also sends a message to my children (we have an 8 year old and a 5 year old). The hilarious thing is that neither one of our children wants me to cut my hair. My son said, “MOMMY! No! No one around here has hair that short” Say what? Wow. Without putting words into his mouth, it sounds like my man is concerned that his Momma is going to look like a plucked chicken and that he will bear the brunt of being teased because of it. My daughter is even more adamant, “MOMMMMMMMMYYYY! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DON’T CUT YOUR HAIR! I LIKE IT LONG!” Double wow. Such emotion about MY hair. Is it possible that my hair has implications for their identity? Well, given the central role that parents play in identity formation it seems the answer is yes. This tells me that what we do with our hair may impact our children’s attitudes about their hair and themselves in general. Talk about responsibility.


Truth be told, we live in a lily-white neighborhood, in a lily-white town in the suburbs of a predominately white city. There are not many people of color more or less women with natural hair. I was stretching it with long dreadlocks, now I’m taking it further with a TWA. Hey kiddos, there’s no time like the present to understand the fact that I AND YOU have kinky, coily hair that differs from the hair of those around you. Yes children, we’re different in some ways and similar in other ways to those around us. Guess what, it’s all beautiful. Here’s to learning how to embrace our unique beauty and the beauty of others.

  • Karen M. Marbury

    I'm going to check out the book you mentioned. And good luck with the TWA. I'm sure you will rock it beautifully. And Tina, I think that our reaction and feelings about hair length are so tied into the texture issues, just as you point out. Short and natural really is pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. It completely flies in the face of our accepted beauty norms. Love the courage and I can't wait to see your pics! Also actively adoring the pic of the beautiful girl-child above.  Very best, Karen

  • topie

    Hey Karen, thanks for your comments! I love knowing that the blog is resonating at some level. Isn't the little girl a cutie pie? I saw her and HAD to post her pic. Yes, please do check out the book. I LOVED it. Yes, hair texture and length interact in some interesting ways. I still have to figure out where I'm going to cut my hair (whew, sometimes get agita thinking about it). I think that I'm going to go to New York maybe Khamit Kinks or something. Talk soon and tell me what you think about the book!

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Mothers: Why do we Care How our Daughters’ Hair Looks?

Image found at: Image found at: http://www.hairliberty.org/black-hair-care/articles/assets_c/2010/11/mother-daughter-hair-orig-thumb-350×232-173.jpg


Feeling much better after getting the Bad Mother of the Year Award yesterday (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/06/bad-mother-of-year-award.html). I also reflected a bit on why my daughter’s hair is relevant to my role as a mother. Mothers are supposed to be nurturing, caring people who make sure that their children are neat, clean and loved. Hmm, I guess sending my child out of the house with a jacked up hairstyle violates all of that, no? So, I’m a better Momma if my daughter’s hair is perfectly coifed? Wow, I’m not even talking about my son. There must be something unique about the mother-daughter relationship. More on that later.

I think I feel better about myself when my daughter’s hair is done because I’m presenting my daughter to the world in a way where she is at her “prettiest”. Ugh, that doesn’t sound good. Why am I so concerned about what others think? This is reminding me of how I felt at work trying to keep my naps under control (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/05/unbound.html). Am I doing the same thing with my child? Do I think that if her hair looks poofy she’ll be rejected by those around her? What do you all think?

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Judgment for nappy heads

Image found at: http://madamenoire.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/frown-378×367.png

My fear of water raised its ugly head the other day. Not for me but for my daughter. She was having a ball at aftercare and I’d just gone to pick her up. At that moment, her teacher took out a garden hose and started spraying it in the air for the children to play in. Their delighted shrieks rang throughout the air and I had to stop myself from running to my daughter and snatching her out of the watery game.

I had to talk to myself, “WAITTTT! Tina!!!! What are you doing? This nappy-head aversion is DEEP! Are you really going to rob your child of fun because you don’t want her hair to nap up from the water?” I must admit I was ambivalent: on one hand I don’t want her to fear water the way that I do (yes, I’m still working through that) but, on the other hand, I don’t want to have to redo her hair every day. Guess what? There is a happy medium, I brushed her hair and kept right on going. She has kinky hair and I don’t think every strand was meant to lie down upon command.


I realize that I still have an image of what a little girl’s hair should look like: pulled into neat sections that allow puffs or twists to sprout. Plus, if I’m honest, I know that the appearance of my daughter’s hair implicates my motherhood. I don’t want somebody crinkling their nose and gritting on me (wow, did I really go back to the 80s for that term? For those who don’t know, it means to give someone a look of strong disapproval when they do something stupid or bad) because my daughter’s hair is “a mess”.


Wow, I need to grow up. What about you all? Can you relate to this situation? Please share your stories.

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