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My natural hair nightmare

Mommy, why isn’t my hair straight like yours?
It’s a question I’m dreading my daughter asking, and words I hope I never have to hear her utter. Yet I fear if she had the vocabulary, she may have asked me this very question this week.
We sat playing in her bedroom, I pulled out a brush from a box full of hair things in her closet and she reached for it.
Mudpie Dress from BNB Boutique
“Mine!!” she yelled at me. I brushed it through my hair a few times and waited until she said please before handing it over. Even then I was still reluctant because it had already taken me way too long to part her pigtails and get them to stay in their cute bouncy form (it was a struggle keeping her still).
Naturally, she took the brush to her hair and pulled through it. Yes, messing up my work but also getting it snagged in her beautiful curls.
I watched the confusion and frustration wave over her face and helped her free her hair.
She tried it again. Perhaps thinking she did it wrong the first time. Yet again her curls were snagged.
This time she got a new idea. She turned the brush toward me and brushed straight through my hair. She didn’t struggle or need to tug, and she seemed pleased at her accomplishment. I, on the other hand felt guilty.
I’ve never chemically straightened my hair. It’s still naturally very, very curly. But because I’m on TV and quite honestly, because it’s all I’ve really known and been easier for me to manage, I’ve kept it in “straight mode” with monthly trips to the salon.
As I sat in my daughter’s bedroom, watching her brush my hair with ease, after a struggle with her own, I couldn’t help but think about what I’m going to do when I’m faced with that question.
I don’t want her to think straight hair is prettier, or that I’m embarrassed by my curls.
My mother has a relaxer and I do remember watching my mom wash and style her own hair without the tangle and fuss mine used to give her. I’d get excited for the special occasions when she’d take me to the salon so I could take my hair out of twits and wear it pressed. Is it hypocritical that I don’t want my daughter to feel that way?
I straddle a fence when it comes to my hair. Since I’ve never had a relaxer there’s no real transition “back to natural” all I’d have to do is wash it and skip the blow drying. But I rarely wear it in it’s naturally curly state.
Someday, when it’s feasible, I’d like to show off my curls  like my daughter’s so she can witness where she gets her locks.
Hopefully that someday will be before she can ask me that dreaded question.


QueenKai says:

Wonderful post and speaking as a mom with 4 girls with beautiful curls I know how you feel.

S. Belle says:

I understand how you feel. My daughter is 3, and I’ve made it a point to tell her that her hair is beautiful. I inwardly cringe sometimes when she combs through her Barbie dolls’ straight hair, and wonder if she’s going to want hair like her dolls. She hasn’t said anything yet, though.

By the way, I LOVE that dress that your daughter is wearing. Did you make it?

Great post! I wear my hair curly and straight depending on my mood so my daughter has seen it all. She has curls like me and I love them! They aren’t as curly as your daughter though. I love your daughters hair and agree you should show her your curly hair but also it’s a good lesson in all types are beautiful.

Thanks for the post!

Leslie Hodge says:

I know exactly what you mean. My daughter is biracial-me being white I have straight hair, and she always tells me she wants straight hair. I have always loved her curls and I tell her that all the time. Her curls are actually really easy to care for, but she still can’t run a brush through it and it flusterates her……… but there just isn’t much I can do but teach her how to care for her hair and hope she sees the beauty in it.

Faith says:

such a beautiful post. i am so happy that i decided to go back to my natural state. so much more convenient too!

if i ever have a baby girl i am happy that i won’t have to worry about that question because i am never going back to relaxed hair.

at least for you, you have never relaxed your hair so you can begin anyday 🙂

I feel two faced by relaxing my hair and making my children wear their natural hair. They know the difference between hair types. They ask alot about their hair being straight like mine or the kids in their class. They want to know why their hair is kinky or puffy. I always tell them their hair is prettier than my hair, but they seem boggled by this. If their hair type is prettier then why do I spend time straightening my hair? I’m slowly getting back to a natural state so I don’t confuse them anymore.

Jacquie says:

My daughter has beautiful, curly, extra thick hair. While I keep my hair permed and straight. At six she hates getting her hair done and wishes it was straight like mine but I am not willing to chemically treat her hair. Hopefully she will grow to love her curls just as much as I do!

I’m transitioning and a big reason is because of my daughter. She has beautiful curly hair now. Whenever I’m done styling it, I always say to her, “beautiful!” I think it’s so important to establish that her hair is beautiful from early on. I used to see my mom get a relaxer and I wanted one. All the women in my family also had their hair chemically straightened.

I work in the same business, so I know what you mean. I asked my news director if I can wear my hair curly and she told me no. I wear a wig now. But, I’ll be revisiting the issue once my relaxer grows out. I’m also having fun documenting my transitioning journey. SO much fun!

My daughter’s hair is similar to Lil J’s hair. I love it and so far she does too. She is 8 now and did ask me why my hair is different than hers. She has seen my hair in braids and weaves her whole life. She caught a glimpse of my hair in its natural state and she was not a fan. It hurt my feelings for a minute, but I used it as an opportunity to educate her and she has been begging me to wear my hair naturally even since. I am not sure I ever will ( my “excuse is my job and lifestyle..I teach aerobics everyday and I run a lot and sweat etc), but it was nice to share that moment with my curly haired beautiful daughter.

Hildie says:

This seems really weird to me as I have always wished since I was little that I had curly hair. I think the issue is kind of strange; like my husband feeling bad that one day our brown-eyed children will ask why their eyes aren’t blue like his. The underlying message being that they aren’t “fortunate” enough to have blue eyes. Which is dumb. Because who says blue eyes are better?

So who says straight hair is better? I promise that every straight-haired person will be deathly jealous of Lil J’s curls!

Every kid is going to have some of one parent’s qualities and some of another. It’s only a big deal if you make it one. Although I do feel kind of bad for my blonde children because I think having brown hair is way prettier.

Hildie, I think the difference is your husband isn’t wearing fake contacts to make his eyes blue (I assume), they are naturally blue. So it would be like if you were wearing cosmetic contacts to make your eyes blue and your brown-eyed kids were like “Well what’s wrong with brown eyes? Why are you trying to change yours?”

My hair isn’t naturally straight, so I worry my daughter will think *I* think something is wrong with curly hair and that’s why I go through great lengths (and money) to straighten it.

BUT, it’s true that I could be over-thinking this. Maybe it”ll be as much as a simple conversation of “I wear it straight because my boss says so and he puts your food on the table so I do it” and maybe she’ll drop it. Growing up I didn’t learn to appreciate my curls and I just hope I can do things differently with my daughter.

Her curls are prettier than mine (in my opinion) so I don’t think it should be too hard to get my point across.

Sarah Bryant says:

P.s. I straighten and dye my hair and it would never occur to me to be worried that my kids would think I was ashamed of being naturally who I am or that something was wrong with them. I just like it better this way and that is ok. And I think thy will be able to understand that just fine.

True Sarah! I didn’t think about it that way but this is a good point!

YUMMommy says:

I’m going through this with Moo. This week she started asking why her hair wasn’t straight like mine and asking me if she could get hers straightened. At first, I thought I had misheard because she’s only 3 and I didn’t think she paid it any attention. Guess I was wrong. I’m trying to figure out a solution that will help her feel okay about her curly hair.

Right now, I just don’t think that a blow out is right for a three year old but I do understand her need to want to be like mommy in every sense of the word. Maybe, I’ll skip my blow out and wear my hair curly for a few weeks.

Sarah Bryant says:

I say go for it! But never feel guilty or bad for doing whatever makes you feel beautiful (whatever that happens to be). I bet it’s just as beautiful natural. And I bet your audience would agree.

Sarah Bryant says:

I say go for it! But never feel guilty or bad for doing whatever makes you feel beautiful (whatever that happens to be). I bet it’s just as beautiful natural. And I bet your audience would agree.

Sarah Bryant says:

I say go for it! But never feel guilty or bad for doing whatever makes you feel beautiful (whatever that happens to be). I bet it’s just as beautiful natural. And I bet your audience would agree.

Sarah Bryant says:

I say go for it! But never feel guilty or bad for doing whatever makes you feel beautiful (whatever that happens to be). I bet it’s just as beautiful natural. And I bet your audience would agree.

Quiana says:

When I first decided to stop relaxing my hair it was exactly for this reason, but then I realized it can be said for a number of things that my daughter may grow up to compare herself to me or others about down the line. I stopped transitioning because it was too time consuming to manage my natural texture, but I make sure to let her know how gorgeous her curls are and when/if the issue comes up in the future (perhaps before I attempt transitioning again) I’ll teach her that hair is part of one’s style and is an accessory and women of all cultures do things to change it up and express themselves. I find people usually want the opposite of what they’re given naturally!

Jessica says:

J will love her curls as much as you do, as long as you keep reminding her how beautiful she is like you already do! i’ve been natural for 5 years (had locs for 2 now back to loose curls) and i love it! i can understand having restrictions in your career field, but for some of the other mamas who mentioned that it’s a lot of work to be natural: it’s not all true! it’s also easier for me than having relaxed hair especially since i work out regularly and am also generally pretty lazy lol. you have to do a lot of experimenting to find what works for your specific hair, but once you get a regimen down…it’s cake!

story time: one of the bi-racial girls elementary school girls in the class next to mine was walking in with her mother one day when she (the mother) asked “why won’t you wear your hair curly like hers (mine)?” the little girl said, appalled, “no! it’s too poofy!” i was heartbroken for a little while, and wondered what i would do if my bi-racial daughter felt the same way one day. but then i realized that that’s apart of the female condition like another poster mentioned. ALL girls go through a phase where they’re dissatisfied with one thing or another about themselves. luckily for J though, she has a confident mama like you to help her understand that there are all different types of beautiful, especially when it comes to hair!

Scandie says:

I always wondered if this was something you have considered. I’m sure you’ll find the right response. Your daughter is adorable. She looks just like you.

she is so beautiful! I’d die for those beautiful bouncy baby girl curls!! I have AWFUL hair-not straight, not curly, coarse and basically what I imagine lions mane to look like haha. You tell her there are millions of girls out there who would love to have her beautiful curly brown hair and I’m one of em’!

Dianne says:

Your daughter has gorgeous hair and, hopefully, she will always know that. I must be missing something, since when does “anybody’s” boss get to tell them how to style their hair? Does the boss pay for the hairstyle s/he dictates? Wow.

Thisnamlife says:

Hi Jenn,

I can understand that hesitancy to “rock the boat” and switch to a natural look at work when your co-workers are used to seeing you with a straight look. However, do you think that your daughter might ask or conclude that natural black hair is “not appropriate” or “good enough” for television?

Also, consider that you are in a unique position of power and have the ability to be a role model to so many black girls, big and small. How will having an intelligent, beautiful, articulate, anchorwoman with black natural hair change the face of television?

Check out my blog on this:http://thisnigerianamericanlife.blogspot.com/2012/01/things-black-girls-are-forced-to.html

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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