“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.
AND IT IS.
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.