Updated: Nov 10
There seems to be a widespread misconception that children's hair is immune to breakage. I, myself, used to believe this false notion when I first started styling hair. Instructions for parents often downplayed the issue of breakage, stating that it was mainly a concern for pre-teens and that mothers shouldn't worry too much about it, unless the child regularly wore braids. But let me tell you, there's more to it than meets the eye. There are contributing factors to hair breakage in children that are rarely discussed.
I personally believe that there's an unspoken rule of caution when it comes to children's hair. We don't talk about it much, because addressing the upkeep of a child's natural hair would mean confronting the biases and misconceptions surrounding straight hair. Growing up, my hair was always either braided or in ponytails, until I was old enough to try other styles. By the time I was 11, it had been subjected to all sorts of treatments, leaving it damaged and prone to breakage. Even with an aunt who was a licensed cosmetologist helping to take care of my hair, I suffered burns and scabs along the way.
As an African American girl in the United States, I was taught that beauty came at a price. "Beauty is pain," was the saying we often heard growing up. This phrase is still a very prevalent saying to this day. It was considered unprofessional and unkempt to embrace the natural texture of our hair. We were never informed that there was anything wrong with straightening our hair, as it was seen as the ideal to have long, flowing strands. The concept of being "natural" meant wearing our real hair in a wrap, just so everyone knew we had length. Looking back, it's astonishing how ignorant we were about our own natural beauty.
But here's the thing – we can change this narrative. We can unlearn all the misconceptions and embrace the natural beauty that has always been a part of us. As adults, we have the power to teach our children to love and care for their natural hair. Yes, a child's hair may be resilient due to its "newness," but it is still prone to breakage when styled. Let's educate ourselves and our children about the proper care and maintenance of their natural hair, so that they can grow up embracing their unique beauty without the fear of breakage. It's time to break free from centuries of ignorance and celebrate our natural curls with pride, instead of shame.
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