I have natural hair and so does my daughter, Miss O. Every weekend she gets a wash, condition, a scalp massage and then goes off to the salon to weave her hair. Although she is just 4 years old, the stylist and almost every adult that I meet at the salon ‘advices’ me to relax her hair so that it is more manageable. They usually cannot understand why their advice is met with an adamant no. Depending on my mood, I may leave it at that, but I generally try to explain why I want to keep my daughter’s hair natural. They usually think that I am full of high faluting ideals.
I can’t say that I blame them. The majority of Nigerian females have been conditioned to think that natural hair is too much trouble and that relaxing it will make it more manageable for the mothers, stylists and for the kids. There is also the line of thinking that kinky hair is not beautiful.
I beg to differ. The reasons I beg to differ will be discussed properly in several more posts. I will however say that there are an abundance of products out there and in your kitchen that would soften a child’s hair without the need to straighten it chemically.
I was standing in front of my house the other day when I saw a young girl (about 8 years old) walking towards me in her school uniform with what appeared to be a black mop on her head (Forgive me, I am nearsighted. No be me do). It turned out that she had a dark colored weave that fell to her shoulders. It was worn down and did not at all flatter her. She had “grown up” hair, a child’s face and body. It was so incongruous I had to look away.
Just like this is.
The way I look at it, children should be allowed to be children. They should also look like children. The Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) that is used in the production of relaxers is dangerous to adults and even more so to children. It is particularly bad when a cheap, harsher relaxer is used. A lot of children come away from the relaxing process with pus-filled scabs on their heads and even ears. They have to learn the hard way to sit as still as rocks when relaxers are being applied. As parents we keep drugs away from our children, childproof stairs and rooms, put monitors in their rooms so that we can respond to their every cry. It stands to reason that we would protect them from the harsh chemicals in relaxers.
It is slightly ironic that some white parents who adopt black children jump through hoops to understand how to style and maintain their children’s hair in its natural state while black parents fix the “problem” with a perm or the so called blow-out which involves leaving the relaxer on for less time.
A good example of such a white parent is this Professsor below who makes his adopted Ethiopian daughter’s hair himself. You can read more about the story and view more pictureshere. He and his wife went out of their way to understand their daughter’s hair and learn how to style it. Motivating, isn’t it?