Tag Archives: mom blogs

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 Necessity of Returning Natural

Time to practice what we preach.
How do you teach your child to be proud of their natural hair and your hair is blown straight? How can you expect your child to rock a twist out, or afro, at 9 years old—an age where her ability to “fit in” may define her self-worth for the rest of her life—and she is being sent a mixed message at home? You tell your baby girl every day, “Don’t worry about what they say. You have to love your natural hair,” but you are wearing a 3 foot silky straight weave as your “protective style.”
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Our children learn more from what we do than from what we say. They are little lawyers constantly looking for evidence to support what we claim is the truth. Don’t believe me? Try reprimanding your child with a smile on your face and see how effective it is. They watch us to see if we truly mean the words we speak. I cannot fully tell my child to believe in herself when it is evident that I do not believe in myself. I cannot tell her to love her hair and it is obvious to her that I am ashamed of mine, or see it as my casual style, but not appropriate for “dressy” occasions.

Have you seen the news story by WPTV News that speaks about the reasons many Black women are “going natural?” I truly commend Rochelle Ritchie for publicly addressing this topic and the huge commitment she made. This video really stirred me because it speaks of a mother with straightened hair who was raising her beautiful daughter with natural hair. She spoke of how her daughter was being teased at school every day and wanted to have hair like her mom’s. At some point, this loving mom was touched by her child’s pain and made a decision that I wish more moms would consider. She decided do the “big chop” in support of her child and began to wear her hair naturally!

We have to teach our kids by example, and they need to know that they are beautiful as is. We can speak it all we want but we are not showing it if our go-to style is always silky straight. They know better; they know when we don’t believe what we say. I want more for my daughter than that. And I want more for your children, as well. That’s why wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!

Let’s lead by example: drop the weaves and lace fronts. Those styles are destroying more than just our hairlines; they are killing our children’s self-esteem. Let’s commit to loving ourselves openly before our children. If we don’t teach them, who will?

Marlene Dillon, author of I'm Proud to Be Natural Me! Available on Amazon.

Marlene Dillon is the author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! a beautiful picture book that teaches children to embrace their natural beauty. It is her passion to empower children and their parents with the message that “we are ALL beautiful as is.”  I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! is available on Amazon, click this link to visit the site. For bookings and to order books for your store, please email improudtobenaturalme@yahoo.com.

I Believe in My Book

“I want to spend the rest of my life loving my daughter and inspiring others. That is what I was created to do.” —Marlene Dillon

 If I see a sad cashier at Target, I’m in her line trying to encourage her. If I see a little girl with curly hair, I have to stop and give her a book. Empowering others is not just what I do, it’s who I am. I wrote I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to give children an opportunity to learn that they are beautiful as is. Many parents don’t think to teach their children to be confident in themselves. It doesn’t happen automatically. My book is an amazing tool for starting that conversation.

I am very proud of the work I’ve done with little to no money, and I know I could have a much greater impact, if I had the resources. I wrote, illustrated and self-published I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! with no money in my pocket and my little girl sleeping across my lap. I am recently separated, sleeping in my parents’ basement, but the message is so necessary, and there’s no more time to waste—children need to know who they are and parents need to know how what we say and do impacts their self-worth. My book has provided me an awesome platform to hold workshops at public libraries, speak in schools and meet the most amazing people at networking events. Thanks to my current job as a teacher’s assistant, I have been able to purchase books (25 or so at a time) to present at fairs and various events. Although, the lack of funds has caused me to turn down numerous opportunities to share my message, I continue to share, network, and speak where I can.
I believe in my book. For all the children who require their parents to read I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! to them every night, for the little 4th grade girl I spoke to in a classroom who said, “I used to believe I was ugly, but now I know I’m beautiful,” for the child who’s likely never seen someone who looks like her on the cover of one of her books, and for the countless times parents have come up to me at events thanking me for writing it, I know it is necessary. I know it is a message that needs to be shared. And I know I cannot do it by myself.  As I sit here with tear-filled eyes desiring so desperately for the resources to reach more children, to visit other states,speak and hold workshops, and even to continue to give books to those who can’t afford it, I ask how you will you help me accomplish my dream? You can share, you can give, you can ask others who you know have the resources and would love to support what I’m doing to read this for themselves. However you can help, I ask you to because this is bigger than me. This is bigger than a single mom who wants to give her daughter her own room and a puppy. This is about the lives I was created to affect for positive change. I cannot do it without your help. Will you please give a $5 donation to my FundRazr and tell others of the work I’m doing? Please give and share, there is a link below.

Thank you for your time and thank you in advance for your support.

With much love and inspiration,

Marlene

Here’s the link to my FundRazr: http://fnd.us/c/2MCJ3/sh/6waf0

Next Event: Children’s Empowerment Workshop, Saturday, Dec. 21, 11—2, Woodson Regional Library (Chicago)

Check out my new promo video and please share below!