I’m here to admit it: I’m completely obsessed with my daughter’s hair.
Background: I’m a black woman who wears her hair “natural” in shoulder length locks. My hair is Black in color and unmistakably Black in style. I wore my hair in a more ordinary, permed style until I was in college. Then there was A Thing, and a head shaving, and a whole rebellion that eventually involved a support group for Black women with natural hair when I was in graduate school, and ended with me growing my locks so long I could barely sleep for rolling on them.
I hated my hair before; I love it now. It is my crown. It fits my personality and life in a way chemically straightened hair never did.
While pregnant with the baby I didn’t know was going to be a girl, my husband and I discussed what we thought the baby would look like. It was a constant train of thought. My mother joked that I wouldn’t have any idea what to do with the baby’s hair if it were a girl. I responded that if it was thick enough, I’d lock it up like mine as soon as I could and go from there. It was even a topic of conversation among my friends, Black and White – would there be afropuffs? Braids and beads? So I’ve been worrying about this baby’s hair from the beginning.
Because it is something that will take me into entirely new hair territory. It took me 22 years to learn to love and care for my hair as it was, as it grew out of my head. What the hell was I going to do with her hair if it wasn’t like mine? How will I teach her to manage it without vanity, or love it without judgment? I’ve got my hair baggage, but what sort of hair baggage will she have? How do I keep that baggage load as low as possible if I don’t actually understand it?
Baby girl was born almost as bald as I was but quickly her hair grew in straight and brown, just like her father’s. Six months in and it was the tawny color of a lion, highlighted with a gold blond stray here and there. I brushed it every day, despite the fact that there wasn’t much of it.
Now, we’re at her one year birthday and it has started to curl, wispy baby curls across the back of her head and along the crown. I have no idea what’s going on. Are we headed for kinky curls, springy corkscrews, gentle bouncing locks? I’m sure it is all completely normal. I’m told by mothers of other children that their hair texture changes as their hormones change, so every few years something — color, texture, length — will be different.
There’s lots of advice out there for this situation, and the “how-to” of it doesn’t really concern me so much as the “what-next” …but that’s parenthood right? Always guessing what their next change will be, praying you’ll be open minded when faced with it, and hoping you can handle it.
Right now, I’m resisting the urge to apply some oil to her scalp to keep the little stray hairs in line. Clearly my support group didn’t prepare me for this.