How NOT to Care For Your Child’s Hair

“Julie

“Your little girl is an angel most of the time… until you sit her down between your knees to comb her hair. Then it’s tears and squeals and tantrum time.

I don’t have kids myself (yet), but trust me – I know. I was once that little girl. And I can tell you from experience, there’s a right way and a wrong way to care for your child’s hair.

This is the WRONG way.

Warning, clicking on the link might make you upset if you’re a child lover.

I first learned about this story via The Root, in Teresa Wiltz’s essay Beauty, The Brush, and Black Girl Pain. I can barely stand to watch this now-infamous YouTube video, that raises more questions than it answers.

I know this is a topic close to Afrobella readers’ hearts, so I wanted to crosspost a part of what I wrote over at AOL Black Voices. It’s a long post, be forewarned… but I hope it helps more people there than it would here. I imagine many Afrobella readers know the importance of reinforcing their child’s positive self image, regardless of the texture of their hair. On BV, I’ve gotten so many e mails from readers who have put a relaxer in their child’s hair at age 3, 4, 5… it’s heartbreaking.

Please feel free to comment and share your knowledge. Spread the natural hair love, bellas!

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Comments

  1. tlady03 says:

    this story is all too familiar :-(

  2. i saw this and watched in shock. she was being horrible to her child. she was just hacking at the girls hair.

  3. That is abuse, plain and simple. I can’t even fathom treating my daughters that way.

  4. Wish my mother never put the creamy crack in my hair, noe that Im older andcan care for my hair I know whats right and Natural unchemically treated is best for me!

  5. The poor baby is obviouly mixed so she has 2-3 diff textuers in her head and this women seem s to be fed up but wow! She is Crazy.
    I bet she thought they would have ” pretty hair”

  6. I couldn’t watch the whole thing, but it brings me back.

    Whereas the stereotype of white hair grooming is of a girl in a lovely bedroom with long, gleaming tresses brushing her hair a hundred times, this is the black stereotype, and it’s actually more the reality, or it used to be.

    The whole concept of “tenderheaded” used to anger me — getting your hair combed is supposed to be an effing act of valor?

    In addition to the point made by The Root writer about signaling ugliness, there’s also the communication of the idea that your ugliness means it’s all right for you to be hurt, that you are somehow bad, or cowardly.
    Why did it take so long for people to realize that typical African American hair should be combed wet? Hair So New, a liquid spray on conditioner, was regarded as a treat.

    I’m having flashbacks to disgusting-looking and smelling products like Pometex (?) and although I usually stayed away from the overtly “black” products, their nauseating, chemical odors and hideous packaging seemed to conspire to make one feel inferior.

    Who wouldn’t want to be a “Breck Girl”?

  7. oh. my. God.

  8. *sigh* My daughter has very thick, coarse hair. I am not a hair person, so when she wants it “did” we go to Nana. She feels like she is too old for the plaits and the barrettes. So we go to the braid shop and get beautiful hair styles that are appropriate for an 11 year old. I won’t even watch that video. THAT is why so many of us have issues with our hair, be it permed, natural, locced, weaved or whatever. I was quick to correct my mom when she said my kid had “bad hair”. Her hair grows, and is healthy, thus its GOOD HAIR.

  9. Yaas Afrobella. Who would perm their child’s hair at a tender age? I’m going to leave it up to my daughter whether or not she wants to perm her hair when she gets of age. For now, braid, grow, trim.

  10. I read The root article the other day. I will not watch the video because I can’t stand to see that type of ignorance perpetuated. It’s horrible. I’ve been natural since 2005 and am happy I finally did it. I had been getting relaxers from age 6 through 26–20 years! If I have a daughter, she will be taught to love her hair in its natural, beautiful state….

  11. I think that we should avoid any implication that this is typical of what goes on with our children. I do agree that many mothers do not know the proper way to care for their child’s natural hair and that hair combing can be painful if not done properly. HOWEVER, that is a long way from what this video shows. A woman who is not even trying to be gentle. In my 30+ years, I have never seen anyone attack a head of hair like that. This is an aberration and really should not even be seriously analyzed because it is so far beyond the pale. My mom used to comb my hair dry at times. She would hold it at the root and comb it out. I think it resulted more in breakage than in actual pain. Now, she would never do something like that because she knows better. I think my mom’s previous method was more common than this freak show.

  12. The only time Black hair puts up resistance, is when folks try to make it act/look like white folks’ hair, plain and simple. Without that comparison, there wouldn’t be a problem.

    I won’t even look at the video, but I’m guessing the mother should be brought up on child abuse charges, if it’s as bad as I hear.

  13. This is horrible – I have some little clients and their mothers are always surprised that I can get them to sit while I do their hair – I always wondered what they actually did to make them not sit for them and I pray this is not it :o(

  14. Natural Hair Product Researcher says:

    I really am confused by the video. You would think after seconds of the mother’s combing technique not working she would figure something else out.

    I mean she did grow up from being a black child and should remember her own hair combing sessions.

    besides that we have too many products now that she could use to ease the whole process for everyone.

    Poor kid, if this is just regular hair combing her what other abuses must she endure?

  15. Natural Hair Product Researcher says:

    her= for the little girl

  16. Just because a woman gives birth doesn’t make her a mother.

    Nothing more to be said.

  17. nolagirl says:

    As a girl with kinky coarse coils who had to get her hair combed my a mother reared to think a relaxer was needed, I never heard that I had nappy hair. Other people said I had the “nerve to be tender headed with all that hair” but not my mother. she never said my hair was ” bad” ( and to this day she has never missed a touch up if her roots grow in )I refuse to believe this was the girls mother. The hitting the girl with a brush…. angry older sister? I don’t think it was a relative.

  18. Thanks for sharing this post; that movie was hard to watch and brought up old memories…
    One of the things I’ve noticed since having natural hair is that the “gentler” I treat it: both wet and dry the easier it is to comb or finger comb the hair. I think experiences like the video has taught us to look at our hair as an obstacle; just think if all of your life your hair was treated as fine chic wool: we would have a different perspective on our hair and handle it accordingly. Do the experiment: see how gently you can coax your fingers through your hair and using two fingers see if you can gently remove a knot. It’s a spiritual thing: like water, gentleness can wear anything down.

  19. Sad video. This is child abuse. I have a 7 year old. I make sure I let her know everyday that she is beautiful and so is her hair. When it’s time to “do” it I make sure it is a peaceful and loving experience for the both of us. I can remember my mother acting like it was a burden to “do” my hair so I got my first perm at 7.

  20. That video is some straight bull. I have a daughter who has a very tender scalp and it’s hard on both of us when I comb her hair. However, the way this woman raked through this child’s hair and cursed at her was heart breaking. I don’t believe that was her child because she seemed extremely heartless.

  21. That poor little girl, I really feel for her.

  22. Stephanie says:

    i did watch the video and I was mortified at the way the girls mother was combing her hair. Refering to her hair as “naps and nots”, I just could not believe it, How are our girls suppose to embrass thier natural beauty if we constantly refer to our own traits as bad and everybody elses as good?
    DC Neighborhood Style Examiner stated the the Little girl had to be mixed and that was a blow below the belt. What does that have to do with anything? The mother looked as if she had a head full of weave and probably envied her child for having so much hair that she could never grow her self.

  23. omg. i feel so sorry for that girl.what was that women thinking?
    -shocked

  24. That woman (i want to use another word but I know Patrice doesn’t allow cursing) looked like she was getting a sick thrill out of abusing that child. And whoever taped it and did nothing to help is just as bad.

    Aside from the hair issue, this goes into a way of horrible parenting I have unfortunately witnessed out in the street. How many times have I heard a Black mother scream at their kid ‘getcho nappy headed Black — over here”, or “stfu”-often to terrified toddlers. It’s a self hatred that runs so deep, and these kids often grow up hating themselves and everybody who looks like them.

  25. Poor child. The combination of the rough combing/brushing and the vile language hurled at the girl makes me want to vomit. My stomach is in knots :(

  26. Yesterday over dinner I mentioned this story to my dad, but I ended up getting angry. He stated that my current hair, which is natural and short “is not a hairstyle” and that I should go back to relaxing my hair. He further stated that the only reason I removed my relaxed hair is because I was lazy and that my hair looked like “naps”. Gah, it’s so ridiculous!

  27. I wanted to send this link to Afrobella, because I knew that this video would hurt all Afrobella stood for.I have nightmares about this video. Forget about hair products and children who dont sit down to do hair, but this video is about ABUSE.She was not even trying to comb the girls hair. She was inflicting pain.Pure pain. The mother knew what she was doin, while she cleared the comb of hair that she ripped from her daughter. I really do have nightmares from this.I hope wherever she lives, that people know what she’s done. I want her to answer for this. I was debating to send this video to Afrobella, because of the cruelty.Thank you for bringing it up. I want to call the police.This isnt the only story out there. This video hs nothing to do with relaxers, hair texture etc because she wasnt even “doin” the girls hair.This was a case of brutality. Thats what i cant get over. Thank you Afrobella. Thank you. I needed to express myself. And i still want to do more than call the police on her!!!

  28. I hated having my hair done as a child because even though I’m white, I had thick curly hair that my mother would straighten weekly. That said, my mother never brushed my hair that way, and even though she damaged my hair (and subjected it to relaxer) she would at least hold my hair to brush it.

    Frankly, the woman in the video is abusing that child and if she’s willing to put that much on a video, then I’m really concerned about what goes on behind closed doors. I couldn’t make it through half the video, but if I never hear the “camera woman”‘s cackle again, I will be better for it. I have a few choice four-letter words I would love to use on both of them.

    It’s one thing not to know how to properly care for someone’s hair, break it and it’s another thing to essentially and mercilessly rip the hair out of a child’s head while laughing about it.

    (On the other hand, I read here and at AOLBV and both articles were wonderful. How cute was the Emory Prof. and his daughter? What a lovely and completely opposite image.)

  29. missmajestic says:

    The video is horrible. I can’t believe she’s cursing around a child like that. I was tenderheaded and even cried sometimes, but my mother never attacked me like that. If I started squirming or whining to much, she just left me alone. I hated sitting still I’d like to emphasize the role of proper maintainance regardless of whether is relaxed or natural. For every little girl with chemically overprocessed hair, there is another with dry, unkept (sp) braids or locks. My point is that relaxing a child’s hair isn’t inherently bad if its well-maintained. My mother relaxed my hair when I was 5 and I never had a problem with breakage or other problems associated with relaxers, nor did I have some inferiority complex about my kinky roots, thinking it was something to be ashamed of or whatever. I’m relaxed now, but I wore my hair natural for years and locked for 3. Sometimes I think people assume that just because you’re relaxed you abhor kinky natural hair. We should be able to switch our hairstyles without that baggage.

  30. I watched about half of the video. Madness! How can a black woman have no clue how to comb black hair. It’s not rocket science – if what you’re doing is causing pain and ripping/ breaking hair, ****ing stop!

  31. Courtney says:

    Props to my mom and step-mom for never doing this to me.
    I don’t have too many bad hair memories. I just hated/feared getting water in my eyes when getting my hair washed and hated how tight my step-mom braided my hair at times.
    Poor girl.

  32. Christina says:

    The video has been removed. From the comments, clearly it was a painful display of child abuse. The memory I have from my childhood came up. Being of mixed race (Purto Rican/White) with a white mother, she didn’t know how to care for my thick curly hair. I was five years old, we had recently moved into a new place. I remember that day in the pink bathroom like it was yesterday. I really was trying to stay still and not move…apparently I was still moving.
    My mother cut my long curly locks right off! Right up to the scalp. I went from having beautiful hair down the the middle of my back, to less than a half inch of hair in 5 minutes of rage. I’m surprised my hair was all that got cut.

    Then she came up with a way to save herself from the public humiliation- I can hear her telling me now- like it was some great adventure story. Her plan was for me to lie to everyone and tell them I did it.

    I was picked on “are you a girl or a boy?” kids would ask me. I did lie to my family and listen to them say for years “oh, don’t go cutting your hair again!” It was a hurtful experience. I have forgiven my mom.

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