Girlhood is challenging, so as women we want to protect our daughters from the self doubt and insecurity that we felt growing up. It's a tall order when the mainstream media and the internet are reaching children at a younger and younger age. I reached out to eight women I look up to in our community who are raising their daughters to be confident and love their textured hair, here's what they had to say.
Give them independence
"My daughter recently turned three and at a young age she is a very confident girl and I think this is because I am constantly empowering her and uplifting her on a daily. I always tell her how beautiful she is and I also allow her to be independent as far as making decisions and doing simple tasks on her own. This allows her to build that confidence in herself not only with how beautiful she is on the outside but what she has within herself." – Dayna Bolden aka It's Dayna Dane
Celebrate their differences
"My daughter, Becca, came into my life when she was 4 months old; she is now 10. I didn’t give birth to her, so when she started asking questions, I answered truthfully, 'Mommy gave birth to you in her heart.' At age 4, she started asking why her hair was different from mine and her brothers. She wanted it to 'move like Mommy's,' so I gave her tiny locs. She loves her hair, but still has these 'being different'moments, which is a normal for children of adoption. Every day, I reinforce not only what is beautiful about her, but I celebrate what makes her special—and to love herself no matter what." – Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter
What you don’t say matters as much as what you do
"I think it's as important what you don't say as what you say. So many times, it's easy to say things like 'her hair's a mess' or 'What are we going to do with it' or 'It looks frizzy' not realizing how that affects self image. It becomes ingrained inside them that they have difficult hair." - Michelle Breyer, co-founder of NaturallyCurly
Talk about their desire to fit in
"I believe my girls are much more confident than I was at their ages. With 2 teenagers and one not far behind these are rough waters. I have always greeted them with 'Good Morning Beautiful!' or 'Hello Gorgeous!' but just saying those words does not instill confidence. We talk about the highs, and lows of wanting to fit in and wanting to be an individual… it all comes down to loving how you are created. I ask questions like 'On a scale of 1 to 10 how much do you feel the NEED to fit in?' And 'on a scale of 1-10 how much do you feel the need to be different [individual]?' The place on the scale changes from time to time… the final question I ask is to get to the meat of where they are, 'How’s your heart?' With this question we discuss the pressures to look a certain way, or dress or speak or act a certain way. At the end of the day I desire that my girls embrace how they are created and leave a legacy of love… and if you feel like wearing purple shoes… go for it!" - Kelly Foreman, founder of MopTop
Read her books about natural hair
"My 2 year old daughter Elle loves our reading time. I mean she really loves it, we legit can not skip it on any given day. In her library we have several books that speak directly about natural hair such as "Princess Hair" by Sheree Miller "Penny and the Magic Puffballs" and "Emi's Curly Cotton Candy Hair" by Tina Olajide. When we read these books, I point out the similarities of the characters to her and explain how her hair is similar or different from the characters in the he book." – Jenell B. Stewart of KinkyCurlyCoilyMe
Practice positive affirmations
"I have two daughters in very different age groups. My oldest is going through the acne, braces, glasses in middle school stage right now so it's very important that I boost her self esteem at home because we all know how hard Middle School children can be. Positive affirmations may seem so basic + simple but they're really important at this age. When she complains that her stomach isn't flat enough, I tell her that she has the flattest stomach of anyone I know. Which is actually true! I could take the poetic route and tell her that appearances aren't everything and we are all made differently but sometimes a 13 year old girl just wants to hear that she's popping!" – Candice Horn of MyCandiShoppe
Make hair care a fun activity
"When it’s time to do their hair I make sure that I don’t make it seem like it’s a chore. I want them to think 'I’m about to get my hair done, and I’m gonna be cute,' so that it’s a fun thing to do. What makes it special is that I’m using the products that I developed, so they’re always asking 'so what product are we using today?' That makes it really fun and something they look forward to. It's something I want to instill in my daughters, because I feel like my mom didn’t instill it in me. I came from a generation where we thought that straight hair was the way to go and that you should straighten your natural texture whether it’s perm, relaxer, or heat, and as I got older I saw that it was damaging my hair so I make it my mission to tell them to embrace their curls, and to take care of their curls." - Monique Rodriguez, founder of Mielle Organics
"I have two young daughters, a five year old and a two year old, and they actually attend very diverse schools. So I’m at that point now where they’re looking at mommy’s hair when I wear my hair out and they say 'mommy, I want my hair to be long and pretty like yours' so I tell them 'your hair is very pretty.' I think it's important to instill that into them at an early age, that they’re unique and things that are unique are even more special. So from a young age I embraced their texture, and to embrace their kinky hair. I’m the youngest out of four girls and I have darker skin vs. my sisters, but I never even knew the difference until I got older. I never knew that my sisters had lighter skin than I did, it was never a difference in my household. So from day one she said we were beautiful, our hair texture is beautiful." - Courtney Adeleye, founder of Mane Choice
Take them to a curly hair stylist
"Find a hairstylist that knows and loves to work with texture. Stylists are so important in terms of helping a child embrace her texture. It might be more expensive, but they will approach your child's hair in a positive way. And your child will see that. A good curl stylists will also provide them with tips about how to do their own hair, whether it's tips on detangling on fun styles for their coils.
Another important thing is to give them choices. You may not want it long but it's important that they feel like they have some control over their hair. When my mother cut my hair into a pixie as a child, it sent a message that it was too difficult to deal with, even if she think she was saying that. When my daughter wanted a straighter look, I let her have blowouts so she could see she had options.
On the flip side, when my daughter wanted her hair short, I agreed to it even though in my mind I knew she was going to have a more difficult time with it. She later asked why I let her cut it short and I told her she had to make her own decision.
At 16, she totally embraces her curls. I'm not sure I can take full credit for it. But she did grow up in a house where curly hair was celebrated." - Michelle Breyer, co-founder of NaturallyCurly