A mother discusses the natural and chemical options for kid's hair!
I was 10 years old when my mother started taking me to the salon for a perm. You see, I have limp, lifeless hair that needs a lot of help, so every few months I would endure the chemicals, the smell, and the ugly phase of the white girl perm in hopes of making my baby-fine hair wavy. At the same time, I also remember watching Solid Gold with my parents and asking Mom how Gladys Knight’s hair was able to move back and forth with such ease as she sang. I had never seen a black person’s hair move with such freedom. Mother’s answer was a perm.
Wow! I was in awe of the process for many years as I watched my black classmates in Hattiesburg, Miss., perm their hair regularly. Eventually, I stopped perming my hair, and they did, too. I was blown away when my hair stylist used a giant round brush to shape my hair without chemicals or a vat of product. I jumped out of the chair and shouted, “Why have I been paying all this money to perm my hair for all these years when you could make it look like this with a brush and a hair dryer!” I was liberated! No more sinus-altering chemicals, no more waiting 2 days to wash my hair, no more ugly phase! I was free!
A similar phenomenon was taking place in the black salons at the same time. Increasing numbers of women of color were choosing to maintain natural hair styles, which meant no chemical treatments. I think the shift in hair care has a lot to do with self-acceptance and the perceived image of beauty. I mean, after all, why did black women apply chemicals to their hair in the first place? To make it appear more like that of white women. Perhaps as women embrace who they are on the inside, we crown our bodies with acceptance and love in the way we treat our hair.
As the mother of three African-American daughters, I am the first to admit it would be tremendously easier to perm their hair, making it straighter and more manageable. On average, I spend five hours a week on hair (not my own). Hair is a big deal at my house and, yet, I have chosen not to chemically alter my children’s hair for my own convenience and comfort. Why?
- There are locks on my kitchen cabinets that contain poisonous chemicals. I make a conscious effort for my children to avoid placing chemicals on or in their bodies and that extends to their hair. It didn’t make sense to the mother in me to put my babies in a position where they might be burned or scarred. After watching Chris Rock’s documentary called “Good Hair,” I feel even better about that decision.
- Perms are expensive and require regular upkeep. Remember the part in Steele Magnolias when Dolly Parton says she doesn’t trust people who do their own hair? Well, I don’t either. I believe in the power of the salon and if we’re doing something potentially dangerous, we’re doing it with professionals and that costs more money than I care to spend at this stage in the game.
- I love their curls! I spent so many years trying to make my hair something it isn’t and now my babies have what my hair doesn’t—curl. I love their hair because it is so much of who they are. I want them to always be true to who they are. I tell them they are perfect just the way God made them. I certainly don’t want them to be any more “white” than they already are having white parents.
It is a deeply personal decision whether or not to perm your child’s hair and I am in no way saying my way is right. I just wanted to share with you why I feel the way I do and I would love you to do the same for me. Tell me what you think! To perm or not to perm—that is the question.
This entry was posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010 at 1:00 am and is filed under Celebrity, Kids, Kinky Hair (Type 4a), Perms, Relaxing. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.