Yes, mother’s are supposed to look out for their young daughters. But should a line be drawn when it comes to their hairstyles? Allure magazine poses this question after a celeb mother and daughter made hair-raising gossip headlines.
Willow Smith gives me serious hair envy. Not because she paid for her entire college education (and then some) with a song inspired by it. And not because she can twist it into a heart-shaped updo. I want her hair because it’s her own. This morning, Willow’s mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, used Facebook to respond to those criticizing her parenting skills because she ‘let’ her daughter cut her hair short:
‘The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair, first the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain… It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires.’
Do me a favour and read that last sentence again. Even I, with long, boring brown hair, can relate to that. Growing up, my mother couldn’t care less what I wore (as long as it didn’t break school dress code), was pretty easy on my make-up choices, and laughed when I painted my nails every colour of the rainbow. But when it came to my hair, I wasn’t allowed to touch it.
‘Your long, sun-kissed hair is so beautiful,’ she used to say as she brushed it. ‘Don’t ever dye it.’ When I finally did, I hid it from her as long as I could for fear of her response (did I mention I’m 23 and now live across the country?). My friends tell me similar stories – just last weekend one of them was chastised for a dye job.
‘Your hair looked so much prettier before,’ her mother told her. Another confessed that she was thinking about ‘going behind her mom’s back’ and getting layers and highlights before her wedding. And while these mothers might have good intentions, the message they’re sending continues to ring loud and clear: Beauty and femininity are wrapped up in the length, style, and colour of your hair.
Smith’s comment isn’t just about mother/daughter relationships – it’s a wake-up call for the way we all have dialogues about beauty. Women shouldn’t feel that their beauty is defined by something as fleeting as hair. Instead, we should encourage each other to express ourselves in a way that we feel most beautiful – dips, dyes, cuts, extensions, and all. There will be exceptions – I still don’t think that six-year-olds should wield scissors or that damaging peroxide washes are appropriate for hair that is still developing. But if a little girl wants a pink feather in her hair or to chop it into a cute crop like Smith, why exactly are we stopping her?
Written by Catherine Q. O’Neill, this article originally appeared on Allure
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