Hair-raising parenting

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Hair-raising parentingYes, 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


Other articles you may be interested in:
Choose the right hairstyle for your face shape
Romantic hairstyles from the stars
Wearable hairstyles from the catwalk
A classic chignon
Five hair rules you should break

Written by

Megan Kakora has helped launch the websites of, and been the online editor for, some of South Africa’s biggest glossy magazines. She believes in less-is-more, except when it comes to her collection of nail polish colours.
Megan on Google+

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  1. me

    So strange that the same people who shouts loud for “it’s the woman’s body, she can choose life or death” are the same ones shouting at this mother. Maybe if more people allow others to live their own lives there will be less difficulty for mothers to raise their own children.

    6 years ago •

  1. Khensani

    I think the best thing anyone can do is own their body. And it’s sad that we’re living in a society where you value your beauty by the colour/style/length of your hair.

    6 years ago •

  1. Nuuh

    Wow what a wonderful article, I also think kids should have the freedom choose their hairstyles and clothes.

    7 years ago •

  1. Mpoyif

    I do think the child should have some choice but within boundaries. The style needs to be easily manageable or both the mother and daughter may have regrets that are not easily rectified and may cause more harm than good.

    7 years ago •

  1. Livvy

    Jada is so right, her daughter is a little lady therefore Jada cannot live her dreams in her.

    7 years ago •

  1. Noma

    This is a great article… my daughter is 5 years and she tells me what she wants done to her hair…obviously there’s limits if she wants to go overboard but I let her decide – that way she always remembers to put a headscarf before going to bed because she loves her hair style…

    7 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    Very cool article and I fully agree with last statement.

    7 years ago •

  1. Maddy

    Completely agree am married mother of two still mum dosen’t want me to treat my hair too much, i should keep the long black indian hair God gave me :) :) Doesn’t force anything since teens but yes i do get advice as to what looks good on me. Love you mum! ! !

    7 years ago •

  1. Humphreys

    Jada’s parenting skills and response to the media is food for thought.

    7 years ago •

  1. Cass1231

    I agree 100%. My mom was the same saying dont color your gorgeous hair or cut it, everyone was envyious of me..however my sisters could dye ect after moving overseas because of “teen pressure” it would be uncool not to allow her kids ect…ouch!

    7 years ago •

  1. Sam

    I think its good to allow our kids to explore but I think that there are also limits

    7 years ago •

  1. Angelisha

    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. Love this…

    7 years ago •

  1. Riekie

    It’s easier for young girls to try out every haircut, which my mom allowed me to do, from long to pixy short, and hair grows again. LOL! That’s the miracle of it all.

    7 years ago •

  1. Gee Whiskers

    I am not a mother, but I think I would allow my daughter to have the freedoms to choose her own hairstyle and clothing – within reason though. It has to be age appropriate.

    7 years ago •

  1. Lady-T

    Jada wrote that her daughter’s beauty , value, worth is not measured by the length of her hair but woman’s beauty is in her hair :(

    7 years ago •

  1. Bronwyn

    I completely agree! My husband gets upset if I get my daughter’s fringe cut. As long as it is age appropriate there is no reason why girls can’t choose their own hair style or whether to get their ears pierced or things like that.

    7 years ago •

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