Body image and values about physical appearance are developed at an extremely young age in girls. How your daughter feels about her natural beauty is very much dependent upon the messages (subtle and overt) she is sent from a young age. In our society, media dictates and sends out the strongest messages to young girls as to what is considered “normal” or beautiful. Girls are literally bombarded with media images, usually based upon European-derived values of beauty. Magazines, movies, TV shows and even their peers reinforce this very narrow definition of beauty. Unfortunately, girls that do not fit the rigid, media-defined idea of beauty often suffer bruised confidence, a desire to change the natural them, and have a reduced appreciation for who they are.
I Have What Hair?
My advice to parents is never to use descriptions like “good hair” and “bad hair”. Phrases like this, seep deep into the psyche of children and can do damage for many years to come. The truth is that every ethnic group has unique skin, hair and facial characteristics, each with their own set of challenges. Whatever hair your child is born with is unique and can never be considered bad… only different. All hair types need to be combed, cut and styled to look impressive. This is true of even the straightest or longest of hairstyles.
Natural Hair, No Burden at All!
It is important to teach your daughter how to care for her own hair from a very young age. Through combing and styling her own hair, your child will develop a love for its texture and for how it looks and feels. Teach her how to do a variety of hairstyles herself. Some styles are quick to do and others take time. Giving your child options and independence with her hair will free your time, and will allow her to choose her own look on any given day. It is vitally important to keep her stocked up with the quality hair products she needs, this encourages pride in her natural hair and fosters a healthy desire for good-looking hair. Finally, inspire her! Consciously counter the media’s definition of beauty by exposing her often to positive role models that have lovely hair that’s just like hers.
Make Natural Hair a “Yes”-Zone
At a hotel swimming pool this summer, I saw a young girl dipping her feet into the pool as other kids splashed around excitedly; running in and out of the pool. It was a hot, unbearably humid afternoon and she begged her parents relentlessly for permission to get in the pool. “No”, was their stern reply. “And make sure you don’t get your hair wet!” In that instant, her lovely, natural locks were made burdensome to her.
Never make your child’s hair a no-go zone. We often warn our girls not to mess up their hair, not to touch it and never to get it wet. Conforming to all of this makes your child’s hair burdensome, restrictive and very difficult to love. Instead, touch your child’s hair often, and encourage her to do so also. Speak of your daughter’s hair and its beauty in glowing terms, and never as burdensome or a hassle. Furthermore, never use your child’s hair as the reason she can’t participate in a physical activity. Children should be free to explore and be adventurous.
While physical beauty has always been an important part of being an attractive young lady, it is important for young girls to know the value that lies within. Help your child discover beauty from within by teaching her always to be kind, confident and true to herself. Beauty is so much more than skin deep. With that in mind, encourage a well-rounded sense of beauty in your child, which in turn will inspire an unbreakable love for her natural self.