The Glory

“We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that it is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.”

- Will Smith

I came across this post via Ms. Peebz’s Tumblr, and fell in love with Will Smith once more.  A few women offered testimonials of how powerful that statement really was.  How often as little black girls are we taught that our bodies are not ours?  It wasn’t until we were considered a girl “in trouble,” that we realized we had any say in the governing of our bodies.  Then we’re taught that it was our responsibility to “keep” our bodies from boys.  That’s the extent of our domain.  Controlling our bodies?  Commanding them?  Those acts were unheard of.

Our mothers would decide to relax our hair once it became “too nappy.”  We barely get the chance to learn our curls before they are taken from us.  Rather than the cotton candy manes we were gifted with at birth, we went to school with variations of the same neat, severe ponytails.  When a child is asked about a relaxer (if ever), it’s usually between angry brush strokes.  ”Don’t you want your hair to be soft and pretty so that you don’t cry when I comb it?”  Hair is innocent and forgiving. If I dye my hair purple tomorrow, I can cut it all off next week and within a month, have a tiny new crop of hair, completely ignorant of my impetuous action.  Why can’t wouldn’t/shouldn’t we trust our daughters with this very small thing?

As a 29 year old woman who cut off her relaxed hair to wear it in it’s natural state, I remember the odd conversation I had with my father.  He spoke of my hair being my crowning glory and wondered what I would “do” with it when it became “too kinky.”  I informed him that I’d been wearing someone else’s crown every since I was eight, and I had every intention of my hair being glorious.


Your hair, your body, hell, YOU are far more than something that shines and exists at the pleasure of all who see you.  You have to be pleased in how you see yourself.  Embrace it.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Jewels, Uncategorized 8 Comments

8 Responses to The Glory

  1. Mark Dub

    We’re all taught to embrace those eurocentric standards of beauty by so many sources so early on…it’s ridiculous. My 20-yr old nephew brags that “we must got a lil French in us” b/c of his hair’s texture (I’ve done the research; there’s a lot more Irish than French). We’re taught that “nappy” = ugly, and that striaght, relaxed hair is more chic and attractive. It isn’t until we acquire some level of knowledge-of-self that we can even begin to appreciate some aspects of our own unique beauty.

  2. Carol

    I’m a white ally. It is not for me to tell anyone how they should look, walk, talk, do their hair or whatever. But I am so looking forward to the day when African American women feel comfortable enough not to worry about making their hair or themselves acceptable to anyone. I love corn rows, dreads, Afros – so many beautiful ways African Americans have worn their hair. You tell you how to look.

    • Beauty Jackson

      I think hair is a starting point to acceptance. What will always concern me is how much women of the African diaspora struggle with hair.

      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

  3. Sharksbreath

    “If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world”

    Seriously. Really. Your going to replace your dad over hair. This is comment is just so horrible in so many ways. Do women really think like that.

    “It wasn’t until we were considered a girl “in trouble,” that we realized we had any say in the governing of our bodies”

    How do you think a girl got in trouble. By controlling your body and doing what you wanted. I’ll bet you the world that 99% of the girls who got pregnant when they were teens wished they had listened and stayed away from boys. So your saying you have to get pregnant as a teen to realize you have control.

    Not realizing the fact having control made you a girl in trouble.

    Really. I feel for women if that’s how you feel. Because it’s insane.

    Where did you get the idea from to get a mohawk. That’s the conversation Will should have had with his kid.

    Then he should have explained to her that just because something is a trend doesn’t mean you should do it.

    Like Jeri Curls.

    This has nothing to do with what you or Will are trying to relate it to.

    Will’s daughter looks like she gets all of her hair ideas from Cassie. Puffy’s side chick. A fine role model indeed. Not.

    When Cassie cut half her hair off so did Willow. Now she continues to follow her hair styles.

    If that’s the case as a parent you might want to know that or if she got the idea from a friend so you can put an end to the nonsense.

    Will’s comment sounds like some BS Jada came up with to justify their kid looking like an idiot.

    I’m 100% sure this has nothing to do with going natural or letting your kid have control of their body. Look at the pic. Her hair is not natural at the top.

    From the looks of this pic Willow will be getting a tramp stamp soon. I guess that’s cool also because the 14 year old needs control of her own body to make dumb decisions

    Wonder how the conversation went when she tweeted out this of her performing on a stripper pole.

    Not sure if Will is the guy you want to take parenting advice from.

    Especially since he’s so insecure of the relationship with his daughter that he thinks she’s going to replace him over her hair.

    It’s not about a black woman not having control. It’s about raising your kids and explaining, teaching and developing a thought process for the world they live in.

    A Mohawk. A MR. T haircut on my daughter.


    Now you can die your hair purple and have all the control you want. Get all the face tattoos you want.

    But remember.

    1.Your dad is not a multimillionaire.
    2. Society is a reality.

    You just might lose your job at the law office or sales if you walk in with purple hair.

    Then your ignorance will smack you in the face with a does of reality.

    • Beauty Jackson

      The statement that a young woman having control over her body will automatically get into trouble is steeped in patriarchy and misinformation. Avoiding sexual activity is also a part of taking control of one’s body. More than a few young women were pressured into sexual activity via older or more experienced males in their lives. So they are merely taking the control from one authority figure, and putting it in the hands of someone not nearly as qualified or concerned for their well being.

      I maintain that hair is a minor thing and a stepping stone. I don’t know many teenagers working in corporate atmospheres, so hair experimentation is a learning experience. Kids more often than not outgrow those tendencies. In 2012, there are also more career opportunities for adults who adopt non-conformist lifestyles.

      I said nothing about facial tattoos, or tattoos at all for that matter. However, in 2012, tattoos aren’t the anti-conformist statements they were even 20 years ago. I hae a friend who is a GM with an international oil company with tattoos. Another is a director for a social program. One of our senior librarians has an amazing canvas of art work, and I work at a very prestigious law firm.

      I’m sorry for YOU if you believe that starting to trust your children with small things is a bad idea, but to each his own.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

  4. Szin

    Wow shark, you really jumped one with this comment.

    Mr. Smith didn’t mean that she would replace him over her hair what he meant was that if attempted to completely control his daughter then she would be more likely to look for someone controlling in a mate.

  5. Natasha

    I appreciate Will and Jada’s thought process, but I take issue with it in practice.
    A – There’s a certain amount of freedom those Smiths have that my Smith family didn’t have purely based on $$$ in the bank. Willow can walk around with a crazy haircut, and it’s fashion and she gets magazine covers. But when Wendy Smith from NC does it? She gets mocked. So I think parents have to be a guide/have some involvement.
    B – If my mother had followed Will and Jada’s plan, I know I would have been bald, b/c I would’ve gotten a relaxer waaaay too soon. As it was, I had to beg to get one when I was 12. I swear my mother only agreed b/c she was sick of braiding my hair.

    So I guess I like the sentiment, but as with all things, people need to think and tailor parenting advice to their specific circumstances.

  6. NicJu

    I went natural about 6 years ago. It’s never really been an issue for me because my hair pretty much always does what I want it to. Recently, to my shock and amazement, the night before my uncle’s funeral my aunt asks “What are you doing with your hair for the funeral?” I responded “I don’t know. That’s why I went natural. I may wash and flat iron it, I may not.” She looked at me like I told her I was wearing a bikini to the funeral. The idea that my hair would be messy or un-done struck a pause in her. Me as well. When I was younger my mom always told me she wouldn’t be surprised if I dyed my hair blue, or shaved it off. I’ve done every and anything to this head of hair, as an adult. I certainly wish I had been given the freedom to express myself that way. Also, you’re right, we really aren’t taught that our bodies are our own. Interesting and thought provoking, ma’am. Thanks.


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