Tag Archives: ‎naturalkids‬

Mommy I Want My Hair Straightened

What are the six words you don’t say to your mother when she’s the author of a children’s book about loving your natural hair? “Mommy, I want my hair straightened.”

Has she even met me? I was clearly having a Twilight Zone moment. I could’ve passed out! I mean, after all our conversations about loving our hair, and all the workshops I’ve held teaching parents and children to celebrate the beauty of our natural beauty, my child had the nerve to say those words to me TWO DAYS AGO!

I’ll be honest, when I first heard those words come out her mouth, I panicked. I started to frantically question myself. “Where did I go wrong? Am I a fraud?” I thought, “I wrote this book and my own child is having identity issues… Oh, God, maybe I shouldn’t have put her in this new school. She never had these issues at her neighborhood school. Did I make a mistake?” My mind was going 60 miles per hour, with question after question. And, of course, while I’m having this full discussion in my head, she—in true 5 year old fashion—was repeating in her most endearing whine, “I want my hair straightened. I want my hair straightened. I want my hair straightened….” I needed some answers before I could respond…

Seek understanding before seeking to be understood.

I stepped out of my haze, temporarily, and asked her, “Why do you want straight hair?” (There was definitely a slight hint of irritation in my voice.) She, not the least bothered by my tone, sang the praises of the tresses she longed for…. “straight hair is sooo soft and it’s sooo beautiful…” I could’ve thrown up. I’m just being honest. It’s not that I don’t believe straight hair is soft, but curly hair is soft, too. I am not one to go on a “Black is beautiful” rant, to the exclusion of other “races.” I think we’re all beautiful. With that said, I strongly believe that it is essential that my child knows her hair and all other features are just as beautiful as anyone else’s—that her classmates’ hair textures are merely different, but not better (or worse) than hers.

Think before you speak.

So many things were running through my mind, and I had heard enough. I blurted out, “Your hair is beautiful and I’m not straightening it!” Oops. Wrong move. Immediately, hysterical screaming pierced the silence her tears began to flow. My little girl was having a meltdown at 7 o’clock in the morning, blubbering and begging me to take her to Target to buy a flat iron before school. Can you imagine? Did I mention SHE IS 5 YEARS OLD?

Shift from fear to curiosity.

I took a real long, deep breath, and thought to myself, “What have I told the parents at my workshops when they ask about this?” This topic comes up all the time, but in the moment, with my own child all of it went out the window… initially. I thought about it a little harder, then remembered. I told them to celebrate the benefits of their child’s hair texture, to teach them about their own hair and the great qualities it has. And that’s what I did. 

Reconnect.

I snapped out of my moment and reminded myself that right then was really about her, and what she felt was a real need. Straightening her hair is not debatable at this age. I knew for sure that was not going to happen, and I needed to help her understand why. As she continued to chant through blubbering tears, “I want my hair straightened,” I dramatically grabbed my chest like Fred Sanford, slumped over, and pretended to pass out. lol I needed to break the tension and shift her energy. She laughed, even though she didn’t want to. This gave me my “in” to tell her how I really felt… 

Tell the truth. 

I said, “Your hair is beautiful.” She responded, “No, it’s not!” I said, “Your curls are so pretty.” She replied through tears, “I hate my curly hair. I want it straight!” It wasn’t working, but I kept going. I told her that her hair texture allows her the flexibility to do so many different styles. I explained to her that “natural hair” does things that straight hair doesn’t. (I told her this as a fact, without making it seem as if curly hair is better than straight.) She began to calm down. I shared stories with her of former co-workers who asked me to two- strand twist their hair, and how I told them that their hair wouldn’t be able to hold the style. She began to ask questions about other experiences like that…. I talked to her until she began to feel blessed to have her hair texture and was no longer envious of anyone else’s….

I did such a good job that she now wants me to do this style!  

 

Photo Source: hairstylepictures2015.com

Lord, help me. lol

 

Although it caught me off guard initially, it is not uncommon for our children (or for ourselves) to desire to look like someone they admire, or to want to “fit in” by looking more like their peers. I believe it is our job to help our kids see value in being themselves—to teach them that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”

Marlene Dillon,

Author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

THE LINK BETWEEN SELF-ESTEEM & BULLYING

I AM PRO-SHRINKAGE! I don’t even call it “shrinkage.” I think it’s one of the coolest traits of my natural hair. I call it “springiness.” I love how when I pull on my twists, they bounce back. It is a personal pet peeve of mine to see the shrinkage shots. You know the pics where a beautiful natural woman, with the most amazing curly hair, is tugging at one of her coils to show how disappointed she is with the hidden length of her hair?

It only bothers me because so often women of color, well Black women, place a lot of value on hair length. It doesn’t matter how beautiful, healthy, bouncy, hydrated the curls are, if it shows 5 inches and it’s actually 12, she’s pissed and hates her hair. I just wish we would embrace all the awesomeness of our hair. This is not just true for Black women. I see the same with women of other “races.” I’ve had so many friends with hair down their back that complain that their hair grows too fast. “Ugh… I just cut it!” Or women with the natural curl pattern that many of us attempt to mimic with a twist out (yeah, I said it), complain about just wanting to straighten it.

I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is my attempt at teaching children that however we came out is fine. That God, The Universe, The Source, the Creator, or the atoms that combined did not make a mistake on you. You are amazing AS YOU ARE! The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can teach our children to love themselves and those around them. If you hate what you see in the mirror, how can you truly love anyone else? If you are disappointed in what you present, how can you avoid “hating” on the next person? If you feel that you are ugly, isn’t it almost “natural” to want the person you see as pretty to feel your pain? What we often don’t see is that bullying and self-esteem walk hand in hand. This is why I mentor 4th through 8th grade girls. It is crucial that we teach our children that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”

*If you are in the Chicagoland/Northwest Indiana areas, click here contact me about my empowering girls’ mentoring workshops. I would love to visit your institution! 

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Me & Mini MeMarlene Dillon is the self-published author of the empowering children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!  She is a single mom on a mission to inspire others by living fully and purposefully,  and by sharing her gifts and her story openly. Through powerful workshops she mentors young girls, and teaches parents and children how  to build healthy self-esteem and confidently pursue their passions.

If you find value in what Marlene is doing, and would like to  support her efforts, please use the link below to make a secure donation via PayPal. A gift of any amount is greatly appreciated.

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