Good Hair and 'The Talk'


 
by Asmarett Ashford of LivingNaturallyEverAfter

Let me start off by telling you all that I am not an authority figure on hair nor do I claim to be the best parent in the world. Now that I put my disclaimer out there, let me introduce myself. My name is Asmarett Ashford and I am the founder of Living Naturally Ever After. I am a married mother of two who lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I work full time as a school counselor in a rural school system outside of Atlanta. This is my first attempt at blogging so please be kind.

The Talk.

My daughter went to a well known and highly sought after private school in Atlanta, Georgia from the time she was 3 years old until she reached the 2nd grade. This school is known in the African American community in Atlanta as “the school”. Many prestigious and affluent families send their children to this school. My whole family loved the experience and did not have a singe issue until my daughter was in kindergarten.

My daughter and I both dislike having our hair washed, combed and styled. We both watched the Jetson’s and longed for the convenience that Jane use to have (push a style, sit under the dryer for 1-2 minutes then bam your hair is clean and styled). On this particular Sunday afternoon I was extremely tired and not interested in fighting with my 5 year old daughter’s hair. She saw her freshly washed hair in the mirror and asked if she could wear it loose with a headband. “Sure” was my reply because it was less work and she looked absolutely adorable with an afro. So on Monday morning we picked out her hair which looked like wild cotton candy. She was uber excited to wear her “cotton candy” hair to school with her headband that matched her uniform. I kissed her goodbye and my husband took my daughter to school.

Later that evening I picked my daughter up from school and she was in tears and her hair was in a wild ponytail. She wouldn’t explain to me why she was crying she just asked to go home. Needless to say that was not going to fly with me. I immediately asked her teacher what happened. To my dismay the teacher replied “she has been upset all day because you forgot to comb her hair”. The teacher then went on to ask me to make sure I don’t send her back to school without her hair “done” because it caused too much of a distraction in her class. I was very shocked and honestly did not know what to say. Just then another parent walked up to me and said “I hate when I am out of town and my husband has to do my daughters hair because they make a mess”. I suppose that the other parent had good intentions and she was trying to comfort me. Both the teacher and that parent were shocked when I told them that her hair was intentionally wild because my daughter and I liked her “cotton candy” afro.

My daughter and I left the school in an awful mood. As soon as we drove away from the school my daughter stated that she never wants to wear her hair down anymore because she did not have “good hair”! She immediately began to cry and asked why her hair grew “this way” moving her hands vertically and not “that way” moving her hands down her back vertically. My heart broke for my daughter and we had to have a talk on the 30 minute ride home about her hair.

My daughter went on to state that she liked her hair when she left home but when she arrived at school her classmates immediately began to laugh at her hair. The other 5 and 6 year old children told her that her hair was “ugly, not combed and nappy”. One little girl went as far as to tell my daughter that she did not have “good hair” like her so she couldn’t wear it down. My daughter then stated that she hated her hair and wanted good hair like __ (insert random female child’s name here). I asked my daughter what “good hair” was and what it looked like. She stopped and thought for a minute then said “good hair is long and goes down here” pointing to the lower portion of her back. “Good hair is curly when it is wet and dry and it swings when you turn your head”.

I decided to stop on the way home and get my daughter some ice cream so that we could sit down and have “the talk” face to face. So over two sugar cones my daughter and I had a very difficult conversation about self-esteem and hair. I tried to explain to my 5 year old daughter that God and her parents gave her the hair that she is suppose to have. I explained that there is no such thing as “good hair” just like there is no such thing as “bad hair”. She then asked me if we could “call God and ask him to make my hair grow long down her back “. I asked her why it was so important to have long hair. She explained that the little girl in her class with long hair that reaches the bottom of her back always get picked first by the teacher and their classmates. The little girl with the long hair always has cool hair bows and all of the girls play in her hair at recess. The little girl with the long hair is always called pretty and all of the parents tell her how pretty her “good hair “is.

I was very shocked at how consumed my daughter was with her hair, her classmate’s hair and other people’sresponses to her classmate. My daughter is a beautiful little girl and random people always complement her on her looks, her afro puffs, her manners and intelligence so I was truly confused by her jealousy. In an effort to conform, my daughter I asked her what can she do better than the girl with the long hair? My daughter perked up immediately and stated that she was the best speller, recited poems the best, was always an All-Star student of the week, had the highest grades in the class on most tests and her art was always picked the “best in show”. My daughter went on and on about all the things she does well in and out of school but as soon as the topic of hair came up she immediately looked defeated.

Our ice cream was long gone by this time and on the ride home I explained to my daughter that she is the person she is meant to be. She should be proud of the way that she looks from head to toe because she is beautiful and unique. I explained that the term “good hair” is a bad word and not welcomed in our home. We then discussed the term “nappy” and “good hair”. I may have gone a bit too far by explaining the slave mentality and the Willie Lynch philosophy to a 5 ½ year old child but I wanted her to know where the term “good hair” came from.

I then went on to tell my daughter that “good hair” is any hair that grows on a person’s head. I asked her if her hair helped her get good grades, run faster, jump higher or read books better. She replied no to each of my questions. My daughter and I discussed the entire pros and cons of having longer hair. When she realized that the longer her hair was the longer it would take to wash and style it. My daughter was sold on her pretty curly puffs and her “cotton candy” hair. We then discussed the importance of being happy with yourself and simply not caring about what others say. She was told that the only people that she has to please are God, her parents and herself.

After dinner that evening my daughter, husband and I continued our conversation about “good hair” and how others should not influence what we think about ourselves. My husband even touched on the topic of that green eyed monster, jealousy(side note- thanks to that talk my daughter thought that the green eyed monster was real and slept with us for a full week!). We went on to listen to the India Arie song “I am not my hair” and continued to give our daughter positive affirmations and celebrate her. Before she went to bed for the night (in our bed) my daughter said her prayer. I asked my daughter if she had anything that she wanted to ask God or tell God. She thought for a few moments then she asked God to help the little girl with long hair to be nice to and stop talking like a slave. Clearly she got the gist of the message but was confused. She then thanked God for her cotton candy hair.

The next morning I woke my daughter up 30 minutes early so that she could make that decision on how to wear her hair for the day. Without a second thought my daughter asked for her “cotton candy” hair. We combed out her afro and placed an obnoxious princess crown headband on her head. She looked a bit nervous on the way to school but both my husband and I took her to school. When she walked into the classroom a few of the students pointed at her hair and one stated “ Aja’s hair is still not combed”. Her teacher was not amused and I received a stern look from her. Before I could say anything my daughter told the boy in a matter of fact tone “my hair is combed and it is just the way I like it slave boy!” Needless to say we had to go to the director of the school and explain the entire situation. She was also not amused and my daughter had to apologize for her inappropriate outburst. The director then talked to the entire class about diversity and how to treat people.

Again, I am not going to ever win a parent of the year award nor will I ever apologize for explaining the world as I see fit to my children. Today my daughter is a happy and healthy 10 year old child with an extra helping of self-esteem. She loves her “cotton candy hair” and does not let the opinions of others determine who or what she is. Shortly after my daughter and I had the “talk” I began transitioning from relaxed hair to being a natural bella.

The reason I wrote this blog is because I have encountered many people who say they can not go natural because they don’t have “good hair” like mine. My daughter is often stopped by strangers and random comments are made about her “good hair”. To this day my daughter will still say “thank you but I don’t have good hair I have my hair”. It truly saddens me that in 2012 people still buy into the “good hair” philosophy. I love the definition that that The Good Hair Diary adopted.  

GOOD (good) adj. -In excellent condition; healthy: Good Hair.

Weigh in!
 Can you relate? How would you handle this situation? How do you define 'Good Hair'?

109 Weigh in!:
Anonymous said...

Beautiful.

DeAndra said...

That little girl's self-esteem seems to be just fine! She is too cute and posing for the camera! :)

Kell with the Curls said...

Excellent! There are so many things to say about this, but I can't pull anything out of my mind. This was beautiful. I don't doubt many of us as adults remember similar notions, thoughts, experiences from our puffy twist pony tail days. After reading this I imagined your daughter as a confident, beautiful young adult taking the world by storm. Brava!

keedy143 said...

Excellent article and story. I have a 16 month old daughter and I plan to keep her pretty curls away from relaxers. Because of this, I often think about the type of mean things that she will hear once she is school aged. We all have to admit that kids can be pretty mean, and although we try to instill as much humility and self esteem in our children that we can, it won't change the fact that what they hear from their peers will ultimately affect them. I will be very prepared to have "The Talk" with her when the time comes and this article is great on bringing awareness to what our little ones are dealing with. Good job mommy!

Hadassah Lighty said...

Ms. Ashford should be commended for how she handled the situation - making sure she set the record straight with the teacher and parent as well as bolstering her child's self esteem. It's sad that in this progressive age people are still literally slaves to the idea of "good hair." Also, the fact that the teacher calls on the girl with the long hair first...really?! Ridiculousness at its best.

Sharia Nicole said...

Wow! This was so deep, but it is reality. Thanks for sharing. I had to have a similar talk with my daughter because though she's natural, she opts to get her hair pressed. She is 8 years old and I don't mind her wearing it straight because it does make my life easier in the mornings. However, I needed her to understand that whether she wears her her straight or curly, she is still beautiful. Well one day my daughter asked if she could wear her hair like mine (in a twistout) and I was so excited. I washed, twisted, and tied it up the night before school the next morning. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive when I dropped her off concerned about what her friends and others might say to her. To my surprise, when I picked her up from school that day, her ASP teacher came up to me and said how much everyone loved her hair that day and my daughter stood beside me chessing like a chesire cat! I was so happy to know that she had a "good hair day". Now, she no longer gets her hair straightened and has embraced her curls!

http://pinkglamcafe.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Love this article. I am so happy your daughter went back to school with her afro and decided not to conform to what others may think is the norm. My cousin is in process of writing a book about this same issue. It saddens me to hair little girls talk about good or bad hair. My niece is going through this herself, because her mom and all the women she loves, (except me) have relaxed hair. I sat my niece down and told her she was my hair inspiration one day and auntie wanted hair just like hers. My niece kept asking me why, it broke my heart. I just did the big chop this Saturday. And sent the video to my sister for my niece to watch. I called my niece and we had another discussion about hair and I thank her for being my hair inspiration. Per my sister, I made my niece feel beautiful. We have to keep telling our children they are beautiful when society tells the they are not. Self Confidence is important in child development and I commend you Asmarett in instilling this in your child.
Che Mora

Pecancurls said...

Good article. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I do not have daughters, but I think mom, you handled the situation well. I do have two sons and while we have not had a "hair" talk... we have had the beginnings of being a young Black man growing up in this country talk with our 10 year old.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love the way you handled this issue. Your daughter is exceptionally strong, as if I were in her shoes, at that young age, I'll not be able to wear that style immediately, if I ever did wear it again. Keep boosting her confidence. She's a gem.
Thanks for sharing.

Kalena Michele said...

Wonderful story and what resilience your daughter has. All mothers should have a talk like this with their daughters, regardless of ethnicity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.. It is truly moving.

Anonymous said...

Absolute wonderful story! I can only imagine how many little girls and mothers your daughter stance may have changed.
There are probably some of her class mates whos parents actually want their little girls to go natural but do no have the courage to do so. I'm sure your little girl may have given them that!

Makila said...

Thank you for this post. I don't have a daughter, but if I did I would hope that I could have handled this situation with half as much grace and intelligence that you did.

Anonymous said...

I went to elementary school in California. Most of the kids in my school were from other countries (military families) or were bi-racial (not just black and white, but other mixed races) or white. Talk about growing up with a hair complex. To top it off, I have 4C hair. Major shrinkage and kinks. I'm 40 now and I'm just starting to get over it.

Anonymous said...

Way to handle a very delicate situation so absolutely beautifully mom!! I wish mine would have taken the time to done the same.

Anonymous said...

Wow, now THAT'S parenting! Great job mom! If only ALL parents would do the same with their children when difficult situations arise. Imagine where our society would be. My husband and I don't have children but should we do someday I hope we are able to handle such difficult situations with the same compassion, grace, and dignity.

Nadi said...

Well done, mom! This story brought tears to my eyes! I am a mother to two little girls-one will be 4 soon and the other is 9 months. I have an overwhelming fear that someone will mistreat my oldest daughter because of her hair or her darker skin. Her hair is very long, but every time people compliment her, they say something to the effect of: "You have such beautiful chocolate skin" or "what a pretty little chocolate drop" and most times "wow, mom how did you get her hair to grow so long?" While when commenting on my baby girl, who has my mother's lighter skin tone, they say "WOw, she is so beautiful", "So cute", etc. It's amazing to me how in the 9 months she's been alive, I notice that my daughter now recognizes that people are different shades of brown. The next step will likely be for her to compare herself to other shades. I am doing everything in my power to get her to see the beauty in all people, no matter their skin color or hair length/type. I hope to take a page from your book if/when school bullies get to her (she starts pre-k in the fall). I hope and pray that my baby can be as strong and confident as your daughter, defending herself against all the "slave boys and girls", lol. Thank you for this post.

On another note (and I'm so sorry for the super-long comment), lets be mindful of how we address little girls. I read a blog post once that challenged me to be aware of my interactions with strangers' children. Try to ask "what's your favorite book" or "Do you play any instruments"? So often, we reduce our daughters to "cute/pretty" and talk about their clothes, looks, or hair bows. What subliminal signals are we giving them? Thanks for hearing me out!

Anonymous said...

lol at "slave boy". Why apologize? She clearly got the message. Here statement was true. People teach thier kids the slave mentality, so thats what they are.

mangomadness said...

Good job, Mom! I wish you, your daughter and your family the best!

Anonymous said...

Had a similar issue. Little long haired blonde kid that attends daycare with my kid sees us in the store and rushes over to introduce my kid to her mother. Her mother was all smiles at first. The little girls goes on to say how cool my kids hair is and how she'd like to cut all her hair off so that it grows back like my kid. The mothers smile quickly turned to a frown and she rushed her daughter over a few isles. The next day at daycare the little girl rushes up to say hi and says "my mother said I shouldn't say what I said yesterday because people wish for my kind of hair every day but I still think her hair is jazzy"

phoenixa said...

I can totally relate! I went natural because of my daughter as well. Before that my hair was down my back, but I always wore a wig and my daughter would say I want my hair like that mommy. It made me feel bad because my hair wasn't even like that. So I read a few blogs and cut my hair within two weeks. And now my daughter wears a big ol' afro on her head happily and she's is gorgeous honey! Her self esteem shot back up (Thank-God). But I had that same problem when she first started school too. And it takes a strong woman to change a childs' thinking from I hate my look to I love my look. So Thank you for raising yet another strong black woman in training.

naychirgurl said...

You've done a wonderful job! My sister-in-law has my nieces convinced that natural hair makes you look bad. They see my hair and how much healthier it is, yet they walk around looking just like their mother: hair overdue for a perm and standing up on their heads like Don King. And they literally walk around like that until they are able to afford a perm or weave. And the new growth that they have is so beautiful! So sad.

Anonymous said...

This was a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing! Though it was sad in some ways, the stereotypes of all peoples but especially our own, the sadness of a little girl who was made beautifully, I completely commend you for how you helped her to overcome the ugliness that can exist.

I'm keeping this story in mind in the hopes that one day I can tell it to my daughter, if the Lord sees fit to give my husband and I one. Thank you sooooo much for sharing. Because of your wisdom, you've helped others (like me) learn how to navigate parenthood.

~kc

Asmarett- Living Naturally Ever After said...

Thank you all... I am in tears reading your encouraging comments! Please visit my website a www.livingnaturallyeverafter.com , like my facebook page ( Living Naturally Ever After) and follow me on Twitter @Asklnea...
Thank you all again!

Chicago Chica said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It's sad that our own community has a harder time accepting our hair in its natural state.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this article, kudos to you for being a mommy that shows self confidence comes from within, and being a model of grace and strength to your daughter. Good hair, bad hair, or anything in between does not equate to character, beauty, and intelligence!

~caramelcurls

Anonymous said...

I love your post. I think all little girls need to have the talk. Thanks, for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

Truly touching story.

I also commend Asmarett's husband. He seems so accepting and supportive. It was absolutely amazing how he backed his little girl at school the next day.

--Dallas

Anonymous said...

I like this story and you did a great job with your daughter. I have family members who tell me since I'm transitioning, I can afford to do it because I have good hair. I don't have good hair. I have hair that grows and I take care of it - always have. I can honestly say that I too, have said things like that until I decided to transition. I read blogs like this and stories that explained all hair is good and if you take care of it, hair would look its best everyday. So now, I could care less of what good hair is. As long as it's healthy, it's all good and I'm happy with the hair that I have!!

Barbara Naturally Speaking said...

Kudos to you for the way that you instilled positive affirmations to your daughter about her beautiful hair. It's phenomenal that you gave her the choice of how to wear her hair the next day so that she could make the choice, and not allow the choice be made by her teacher and students negative connotation of "good hair". Your daughter has beautiful hair, she's beautiful, you're beautiful, and you did a great job of helping her to affirm her God-given hair and beauty!

Barbara of www.barbaranaturallyspeaking.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I think you handled this exceptionally well.

And what makes me all kinds of mad----the parents who teach their kids to ridicule others are not worried about their parenting skills at all. And also, why was it ok for those kids to point at your child like that, but your baby had to apologize for her hilarious slave boy comment? No other race of people are this self destructive.

Tierra B. said...

WOW, you handled that AMAZINGLY, one day I'll probably have children and I'll have to save your story for my mental archives. I think you and your daughter are beautiful, God bless.

Monique Rochelle said...

You are an awesome mom. You planted the seeds that you were supposed to plant. You've got my vote for 'parent of the year.' The world has been (and still does) telling us our hair is 'unmanageable' and un-natural, making its justification for straight hair wigs, weaves, and damaging chemicals that straighten our hair. Yes, good hair is healthy hair. I love the versatility of my natural hair. It's healthier now in it's natural state. To your daughter: You are naturally beautiful princess! And I give props to your supportive husband.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you are parent of the year!!! Your daughter is beautiful! And you and your husband are smart. Ridiculous that "good hair" crap is still going on.

Tierra B. said...

WOW, you handled that AMAZINGLY, one day I'll probably have children and I'll have to save your story for my mental archives. I think you and your daughter are beautiful, God bless.

mothereartha said...

beautiful story and the slave boy comment is amusing to say the least!

kudos to you and your daughter for recognizing that how smart she is, her work ethic, as well as her intrinsic characteristics will always outweigh any external traits she possesses, hair included :) ...... and of course huge kudos for rocking team natural with finesse and grace!

Anonymous said...

You handled this situation beautifully. It sounds like you and your husband are raising a strong and happy young lady. Take Care

Anonymous said...

BabyGirl is serving some serious fierceness with that pose. That pose says everything about her self esteem.

Aisha P said...

great story and i will be sharing it.. i hate the term good hair, better hair, better texture, less coarse.. ppl try to define our hair and they need to be less consumed w/ours and worry about their own...

Anonymous said...

What a great post. It's nice to know there are mothers out there who embrace and teach their children to embrace their hair.

Jas

Anonymous said...

You handled the situation very well! I couldn't stop laughing at "slave boy." >y question is why did the teacher think your daughter's hair was undone? It definitely seemed like since the teacher obviously disliked her hair, her classmates didn't have a problem commenting negatively on it. The teacher should step in when there is teasing, not reinforce it.

Ms. G said...

Wow your story is inspirational and the way you handled everything was exceptional. You helped your daughter love herself for all that she is and you and her are both beautiful. This story touched my heart because your family dealt with a situation I think most natural women with not " good hair" have to deal with. Im 100% natural and I applaud you for empowering your daughter. BE BLESSED

Anonymous said...

Outstanding post! I just love it! I have a 6 year old daughter with jet black thick naural wavy hair way past her shoulder. Her hair is beautiful and she is always told that daily, and yet despite that, my daughter has low self esteem about her hair. She too attends a private shool predominantly white.She asked when she was just four to straighten her hair so it could be long and flowy like her white friends. It was difficult for her dad and I to get at first because all of her black friends want her hair, yet she doesnt. I flat iron her hair one easter, she was six by then, moreso to see the length that was now near mid back. When my daughter saw the time it took to get her hair straight from the flat iron, she never asked again to have it straightened again. I am still trying to build her self esteem regarding her hair daily, and now she is growing to love it everyday. She sees that mommy has the same natural hair and its beautiful, she is finally learning to accept her own. Its daily affirmation from me and her dad and showing her that all hair is beautiful that is making a difference.

Jeannette said...

I think that you did a great job with your daughter and I wouldn't have done anything differently. There is no right or wrong way of handling a situation like this. As unfortunate it is in this day and age to discuss our hair as 'good hair,' that mentality still exists. I think that situations like this make one stronger. I live in the New York Metro area and depending where one lives, situations would be viewed differently. For instance, your daughter going to school with an afro would literally be no big deal in my area but the cost of living is higher lol. Seems like the school's administration are conservative. I see keep on reaffirming the confidence and love in your daughter and this too shall pass.

Camille said...

First, my jaw is aching from how hard it dropped to see that the so-called teacher said you forgot to comb the child's hair and told you it caused a distraction. I live in metro Atlanta, and while I'm not surprised by the other kids, I am stunned at the 'teacher.' If your child had to apologize for the slave boy comment, did the adult have to apologize for her comments? I'm sure you can't, but I wish you could let us know what school that is.

When I was that age, more than 30 years ago, I was in a private school, the one and only, and one of the kids used to pour sand over my cornrows. My mom was so hot about it, she still talks about it to this day. You know how long it takes to wash and braid a 5-year-olds hair!

I love the way you handled it with your daughter. My teenager does her own locs now, but had her issues with wanting straight hair, even though she's never known me to have a relaxer and her father started letting his locs grow the day she was born. It took her a while (and a surprise, unsanctioned relaxer done by an in-law) plus some damage and breakage for her to come around.

Imma go massage my jaw now.

Annie L. said...

By age 4 (thirty years ago) in an all-white private school, I already craved the straight, blonde hair of my BFF. My self-esteem plummeted as I observed the attention she received and positive characteristics attributed to her for simply being blond and straight-haired similar to what Asmarett's daughter observed with the girl in her class.

This same BFF consequently GUSHED over my long tight curls which were pressed to death by my mother and braided in pigtails. There was no mistaking however that I did not have the kind of curly, wavy or straight 'good hair' that swung around like my sister did and was popular then. When our parents met, hers were so gracious telling us they were glad to finally meet the girl whose hair their daughter was 'in love with' and how she wanted hers to be like mine! Mind you, this was 1982-83!

My mother always reminded me of this story throughout my decades of hair shame but sadly it didn't sink in until later in life, way after I had absorbed countless toxic images and caste-typing associated with hair like mine.

I believe 'the talk' and an all-out positive reinforcement 'assault' with pictures, books, songs, visible role models, toys etc. needs to begin from birth, Lol! There is an overwhelming amount of information and ignorance that contradicts the truth and beauty of Black hair and all of the wonderful things parents may try to teach their young can be obscured as in my case.

Brava Asmarett for boldly defending, counseling and providing inspiration for your child, you're both so beautiful! This story brings back so many memories, I need to go thank and hug my mother right now! Apologies for length <3

DédéO said...

Reading this make me feel really lucky but also like I am some kind of ovni as I grew up in France in a priviledge family and was send to school with a majority of white kids. There was usually 1 or 2 other black kids in th class and usually one was indian and the other one was mixed raced. My mother used to spend some time combing my frizzy hair to make 3 big braids, or more, with beads in them and I never really paid attention to how I look until I reached the age of 13. The reason I did not have any problem with my hair is because my classmates would never comment on it except to tell me how fun and cool it was as it was like springs and bounced when you pulled it. Of course I felt a little insecure when my friends would braid each other's hair and not touch mine but anytime I would ask my mother to relax my hair to be like hers she would remind me that with relaxer there was no turning back, that it hurt and I would have to do it again and again and mostly, that her father forbided her to relax her hair when she was young until she reached the age of 20. She did it anyway when she was 18 and let's just say that she remembered for the rest of her life to obey her father. That's why I never relaxed my hair at the end praying for a miracle solution that would make my life easier by make my hair more manageable. A few years ago my prayers were answered with the invention of the flat iron which allowed me to straighten my hair. I then went onto a crazy phase of wtraightening my hair every week as I received a lot of compliments from white and african peers until recently. One year ago I realised the damaged done to my hair and decided to cut on the heat processing. I use treatments, cut my hair regularly and I am happy that I have the possibility to wear my hair curly luke cotton candy or like a "chocroute" as I call it, to wear it weavy with a twist-out and to wear it straight flat ironed. I feel like an ovni because I am not part of the cuture and mouvement of women wanting to go natural but finding it difficult and I have to admit that I struggle to understand it, I am just happy that I had a patient and convincing mother who preserved my choucroute until I was old enought to experiment to finally understand and accept my hair without having to go to the extreme of using a relaxer.I It makes me feel really sad when I read and see stories on television about kids who are unhappy about their hair and I want to applaud the investment of women like Asmarett who work hard to encourage their daughters to embrace their natural beauty and reject the mainstream preconceived beauty ideals.

I appologise for my poor english, I am just a Frenchie trying to express my thoughts and experience on this blog.

You can see how I change my hair all the time from curly, to wavy and straight on my blog:
http://ouiouiouichocodrey.blogspot.co.uk/
I just started my blog and I am not an expert but I hope that maybe it can inspire some of you transitioning to natural hair.

lOVE AND CHOCOLATE

Chocodrey.

AprilW said...

GREAT STORY!!!!!!! I love the way Mrs. Ashford (& hubby) handled the situation and I love that this lil cute stood up for herself and gave them a big middle finger with her confident attitude.

Anonymous said...

Asmarett, you and your daughter are both beautiful! I say that sincerely! You handled the situation very well. It's unfortunate that such a highly esteemed school also has a teacher who can be so uninformed and somewhat narrow minded! I cringed and laughed at the same time at the "slave boy" comment. But sadly it is true. There should be nothing wrong with someone revelling and embracing in their true self!

Sue

Bridget said...

Amazing story and baby girl is absolutely beautiful! Love how you and your husband handled the situation. My eight year old niece had a similar situation last year and her Mom gave into the pressure and started sending her to the salon to get her hair flat ironed. It is sad that little black girls have to deal with the politics of hair in our society.

Anonymous said...

No judgement Asmarett, for you are the absolute best mom for your daughter, after all, you've explained things in a manner that she understands, digressions aside, and she gets it. So begins her fabulous journey. It's apparent you are doing a fantastic job. In college, I was teased about my nappy hair by a permie which caused me to do damaging things to my hair, including use a chemical product that would let you keep press and curls longer,(I can't remember the name of it!!) then I succumbed to the perm. Now I've been natural for over 8 years and it takes me back to the times when I used to braid my hair for my afro in High School. Loving the softness and cotton candy feel of my hair didn't quite empower me then as it does now, but I didn't know then what I know now. As women, most of us are shaped by the "acceptable" images society dictates. but those images should truly beguided by the trusted input we receive from our Sisters, Mothers, Grannies, and beloved Aunties, without them we begin to doubt our strengths instead of being empowered by them. Continue to be an inspiration beloved, your beautiful daughter will follow suit. --Qweenvic

Anonymous said...

Good for you mom and dad! At age 5 your daughter's boldness and confidence in terms of natural hair, is what I discovered 3 years ago at age 38.

Erika A. said...

Great story!

Sawah said...

As a mother of two girls, one who is a little more sensitive, and whose hair is totally different from her sister, this post touches my heart. My older daughter's hair grows "vertically", while her little sister's grows the other way, down her back. I always make sure to point out the health of their hair versus the texture, curl pattern, or look.
Thanks for this wonderful blog post.

-http://discoveringnatural.blogspot.com

Goombagirl said...

Having a daughter has challenged everything I've ever known and thought about traditional standards of beauty so I sympthize with you. My daughter and I too have had the talk. My daughter is a 3 a/b and has what adults call "good hair". The new generation of children, however, told my then PRE-kindergartener that she needs a perm. What does a child know about relaxers and perms at 4? Yes, the social conditioning and shaming begins shortly after they come out of the womb these days.

Pardon my rebellious nature but why did you apologize to the school administrators? I'd sooner remove my daughter than have such nonsense drilled in her head. The simple fact that the teacher calls on the child with the longest hair first....is this what kids must learn and submit to in order to have a shot at succeeding in life?

Kinsmankid said...

Asmarett should win for mother of the 21st Century!!! I hope her daughter's teacher reads this blog. It's disturbing that she would be so backward in 2012. She should have received some type of reprimand or at the least been made to apologize. Both Asmarett and her daughter are beautiful -- inside and out.

LaShon James-Major said...

You and your husband deserve a parent of the year award. You guys handled the situation perfectly and I hope others learn from your example.

http://queenofthecurl.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

My daughter is the reason I am natural today. She came home from daycare at 3 years old and told me she wanted her hair like Bella(a white girl). I told her she had beautiful black girl hair. However, day to day she would see me my hair routine included maintaining straight hair. Once I decided to go natural.

Annabel said...

This article bought tears to my eyes. Kids can be cruel, but many times don't know any better, but that teacher--smh! Great parents and great approsch to “the talk".

PC said...

What a beautiful, inspiring post. What ignorant people at your child's school! (Wondering what race/nationality they are.) I never even got this talk. High five to you!!

Kinky-curly chica said...

WOW that was a very powerful story!

luvmylocs said...

great post. powerful parenting. kudos!

Anonymous said...

Whew...that was deep! I applaud you for taking the time to discuss this very hard "life-lesson" with your daughter. It is very disheartening that in 2012, in Atlanta, GA of all places, a young black girl must still deal with the ridiculous stereotypes of good hair from within her own community. However, in time her beauty and strength will shine through, and the ignorance of those around her will eventually fade.

janelle said...

Wow, what a sad and uplifting story. Im so sorry that your daughter had to go through that at such a young age, but at the same time she is such an inspiration. I wish I could have had the confidence and courage your daughter had at 5 when I first decided to go natural at 22. Great job mom and dad!

Anonymous said...

The first seven or eight years of my daughters life, she wore her hair in two afro puffs just like that little girl. Best little girl hair style EVER! Beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

As a child in the late 50s-60s mom took great care of my penspring coiled hair.She didn't press it till I was about 6 or 7. I had long thick braids even tho I was considered to have "bad hair". There was a lot of hair texture & skin color consciousness back then. I have a cousin who had curly/wavy hair & always ridiculed me & others for having bad hair despite her parents' scolding her.She used to wet her hair in front of us & brag how it straightened out while ours got frizzy. We both wore afros in 60s & 70s then I went to curly perms & she to relaxers.Long story short after 30+ years my natural hair is thick & growing while her natural is very thin,wispy & damaged looking & a shadow of its former self.How I loooove KARMA !!!

LaToya C. said...

Love this!!! Thank you for sharing because this will surely help others! My first relaxer was brought about from begging my mother to have hair that shook back and forth down my back.

Anonymous said...

ATL is the home of perms and hot combs! While living there during the mid 90s I was a braid stylist and healed many a head including BABIES under the age of 10 whose parents had started perming their hair @ the tender age of 3 or 4! It's amazing how young the madness starts - thank goodness I grew up in the 70s in NYC where natural hair reined supreme but as a kid I had the bug for a while too! Baby hair sideburns anyone?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience. The story was gripping. So many emotions flooded through me. Took me back to when I was a child and was made to feel that something was wrong with my hair. Made me so sad to think that "educated" adults in your daughter's school could be so callous, so ignorant. So glad to know that your daughter is now proud of her hair. You and your husband must be complimented on the way you handled the situation. Reminded me too of a debutante ball that was held in our city about 15 years ago. One of the young participants had natural hair and wore it in braids. The sponsors of the ball adamantly refused to let her participate unless she "fixed" her hair. If I remember correctly, the young lady was just as persistent as the sponsors and chose not to participate in the ball rather than "fix" her hair. Thank you again for sharing this experience with us. Think i will print out the article so I can read it from time to time or share it with others who are dealing with this type of situation.

Jesus-in-the-city said...

What a wonderful post! Just forwarded it to ten people!!!

This was really well written and I'm sure a TON of people will benefit from this family's experience in the future!

God bless you guys, and keep writing!

Anonymous said...

Embrance what God blessed you with your hair and skin color. I say skin color because several of my friends and father hate their dark skin because people even family members called them ugly or black a** alot that hurt them, so they wish they had lighter skin so that they would be treated better. My father said if he had the money he would of changed his skin color like MJ. My dad hates his natural hair texture and my mom and I. He has a perm like his mother and three sisters, he always tell my mom and I we need to do our hair meaning get it straighten or get a perm. This story literally broke my heart I had to tell my mother about this who felt the same way.

Megan Montgomery

Anonymous said...

Beautiful story. Like you, it was my daughter that started us both on the natural journey. She was 14 when she decided and of course she took some heat from the other adolescents in school. She handled it like a champ. I was so proud of her and cannot honestly say that I would have handled the negative reception as well as she did. She soon convinced me of the benefits of going chemical-free and we have both embraced our natural hair. We are proud naturalistas!

beth jones said...

We experienced the same thing when my daughter attended a public school. There is too much self hatred. My response is any hair growing from a healthy scalp is good hair. We know God makes no mistakes! She now attends a private school where she is completely accepted and has the best curly curls. This is an opportunity to teach our children to be free of chemicals.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as good hair, hair is hair everyone's hair long , short etc. Is good everything God made is good. I never looked at other peoples hair and define it as good or bad because my mother bought me dolls with textured hair not barbies I did not get barbies until I was 8or 9. I remember one of my dolls had really coarse hair and braided with beads. I loved it. I even showed my mother the article on curlynikki how to make natural hair barbies. We both thought that was the bombdotcom lol! I am new to curlynikki so I read all her articles old and new.

Megan Montgomery

Mocha T said...

I loved that story and I am glad you got your daughter to love her hair at 5. I wish I was that young instead of 29. I still have the "good hair" talk with friends and sometimes I feel like its a lose-lose convo. I take satisfaction in the fact the some of my black girls compliment and ask me about my natural hair and they are 8 th graders. Good job mom.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! I don't think anyone could have handled this better. What a brave little girl you have, to wear her fabulous fro the very next day after being so hurt. Kudos to you and your spouse. You should be so proud!

Bettina Durden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you for the inspiration! I have a 1.5 year old daughter and know at some point, we will have to have this conversation. I love the way you handled it and I love that she is still natural!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are the best mom ever. I'm saving this post for "the talk" and I don't even have kids yet.

Anonymous said...

This story and the way you handled the situation were amazing. I have a two-year-old and I am over here taking notes for my "hair talk". I loved the emphasis you placed on being happy with self, forgiving the very people that hurt us and you even managed to tie in some history. I have been natural for 7 years and am just now getting to a point where I am accepting my hair and myself just the way it is and I am WAY older than your daughter. That conversation in and of itself has unlocked many doors and broken down many barriers for your daughter and everyone who reads this. Imagine how much farther we all would have been if someone had this talk with us earlier in life? Thanks for sharing you have made all of us mommas proud.

hairscapades said...

I LOVE this post. Sounds like you are a pretty awesome mom to me!!

Shelli

ChiCurly1908 said...

I. Applaud. YOU!!!!

ChiCurly1908 said...

I. Applaud. YOU!!!!

SYPM said...

Wow…thank you for sharing:)

Anonymous said...

You did a great job, mom! You are teaching your daughter how to love herself the way God intended! Also, that "slave boy" comment had me dying. That little rascal deserved what he got for teasing your baby. She should not have been made to apologize for defending herself! That boy should have force to apologize for his hurtful words! I'm sure your daughter will look back on that day, when she is older, and feel grateful for having two parents that taught her all about self-acceptance.

-Foxyrou

We need more mother like you in the world!

-Foxyrou

Blkqueen700 said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I too recently had a similar conversation with my 6 yr old daughter who would frequently tell me that she wanted "smooth" hair like mines. At first I promised her that she could get a relaxer like me when she was 8. Then it was 10. After that it was 13. I eventually realized that I kept extending the time frame because I didn't want my baby's hair ruined like I had done to my own. On that day I started my transition back to my hair's natural state. I told my daughter that I wanted my hair to look like hers because it is beautiful, healthy and the best type of hair to have. It has been 8 months and my daughter never asks about "smooth" hair anymore and I'm enjoying becoming reacquainted with my real hair.

Anonymous said...

The only things I'm going to say is that you did a fantastic job regarding this situation and your daughter is absolutely beautiful.

Gwenn4ya said...

OMG! I must applaud you for doing a fantastic job at rearing your daughter about the "good hair" mentality. I tell you that in 2012, I still hear that term today by alot of people. "I can't go natural because I don't have that good hair like yours" is what I hear all the time. My reply is always I do not have good hair. I just choose to take care of my hair and that's why it looks so healthy and strong. The response of them is usually "well I just can't do it". I leave it alone because at least I tried. Every now and then I will say yes you can do it if you learn how to do it. I know the struggle. I have two daughters and I am trying to do the same. Beautiful story and I'm sure the healthy dose of self-esteem is much appreciated and used by your daughter as well as others who read your story.

Tiff said...

My own daughter is almost four, and I often think about the day she may start to question her natural hair, and I cringe at the thought. This was a good read. I said I would never relax my daughter's hair, and that's a part of the reason I went natural when she was a baby. I need to be an example for her, so she will see for herself that natural hair is normal too.

Tiff said...

My own daughter is almost four, and I often think about the day she may start to question her natural hair, and I cringe at the thought. This was a good read. I said I would never relax my daughter's hair, and that's a part of the reason I went natural when she was a baby. I need to be an example for her, so she will see for herself that natural hair is normal too.

Anonymous said...

KUDOS to you (you are a fab mom--keep up the wonderful work) and I really love the affirmation "the only one you have to please is God (Jehovah), your parents and yourself!

Anonymous said...

Thumbs up to both mother and daughter on their stance against how racism has defined "good hair!" If we are not taught from day one that our hair is gorgeous in its coily, kinky state, then we will embrace the European meaning of "good hair." I am 56 years old. I transitioned for 14 months, and I've been fully natural for 1 full year. From age 5-15 my mom straightened my hair (during the era of the afro, I did wear an afro, and wore it proudly); from age 15-35 I straightened my hair; from age 35-54 I relaxed my hair (big mistake!). I never even knew what my hair texture was like because I was brought up on this "good hair, bad hair" comparison like most black women during the eras of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and I never knew how to take care of my hair in its natural state. Our daughters need to be taught when they are knee high, so that the beauty of our hair will never cause finger pointing, or become the brunt of sarcastic jokes, or humiliation. Our hair should be viewed as fine china. So delicate and precious that it must be preserved at all cost. I am loving my hair journey, and I wouldn't exchange my kinky coils for all the fake European hair in India. Continue to stay proud throughout the ages baby girls and mom's alike, for our hair is our glory.

Nakia said...

I appreciate you as a parent. Many parents teach about the slave mentality in every way except when it comes to hair. I appreciate your boldness and courage. We need more parents to understand that a negative view on a child's hair can really damage a child selfesteem.
Thank You

Cara said...

This may have already been mentioned but there is a book called I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley. A favorite read in our household. My daughters love there hair.

adelh said...

excellent story! and i am like the anonymous poster where i did all of those things with my hair until i had no idea what my texture was like, and i am in my 50's too. I felt tons of pressure to wear it straight because it was expected. i wear it natural now, with just gel, and i think it is important, as a teacher, for black kids to see other options for doing your hair. i get asked about my hair; some kids say "fix that mess", or " i like it". I invite all opinions, because that is what this country is founded on, but i point out to the kids that the curliness/kinkiness is STAYING!!

Kydee Kristina said...

This story almost brought tears to my eyes. Its sad how may little girls self esteem including my own was affected by this "Good Hair" philosophy which is why I am so proud of the natural hair movement and the overturning of negative stereotypes that blacks inflict on our own people. We need to start accepting ourselves, our color and our hair...enough is enough! I loved the way this mother handled the situation, I probably would have done the same thing, instilling pride in our culture and in our hair. Making her understand from an early age the HISTORY which is important in countering ignorance. I would of handled the situation the same way. I am in love with this article and it is seriously one of the most moving things I've read in a while. It brings me back to being a child in a family with long hair where my mother didnt instill this kind of esteem in me but I had to find it on my own. This was GREAT!

Anonymous said...

This article was so well written and moving. I have had this conversation with too many adults. I truly do not understand how people can characterize hair as "good" or "bad." I asked my husband, when he told me "Face it, Honey. You have bad hair." Trying VERY hard to keep my head from rolling. I asked him, "What is "bad" hair? What does it look like because I've never seen it? Do your sister's have bad hair? Do any relative you have that I've met have bad hair?" To which he replied, "No." "Okay" I said. When you can show me someone with "bad" hair, maybe I'll agree with you. Until then, I just have hair."

You're a good mom for helping your daughter appreciate this early in her life.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher. The only time I touch my girls' hair is if they ask me to put a bow/barrette back on or twist/braid back one ponytail that came loose. I would never re-do or try to rearrange what the mom or whomever did to their hair. I'm not the mom. Just the teacher.

Gwen said...

I have an 11 year old daughter and we have had "the talk" also. I explained to her that most of those girls with chemical in their hair will most likely be bald by high school. Some of them already wear fake ponytails and have breakage. We HAVE to teach our girls that they are beautiful huts the way they are! Self esteem is taught at home just like other values/ morals. I am going to share this story with her!

Mel D said...

Beautiful! Awesome job for an awesome Mom!

Jessica M. said...

Lovely story. Just shows what pressure young children are under. It even shows what other children are learning at home from their parents is not correct and hurtful to others. Thank you for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

Dem buuuurrds wuz neeeeesssstttyyyy. Dem my boos Wes!!!

Anonymous said...

I am proud to call u my sister (literally, because we have the same parents) and needless to say, I absolutely love and adore my beautiful niece (and nephew). You are my big sis, my BFF, and my role model. It was because of you and how beautiful you are that I made the decision to go natural. I love you and thank you for being such an inspiration and positive influence in my life. Luv U!!!!!

M.

Shoni Freeman said...

Asmarett -- I was skimming this post in my Google reader, as I normally do these days, and some of the wording in your post actually caused me to stop, click the link, and read this article slowly and carefully. Well done! I got goosebumps when you said you went natural shortly after "the talk."

I don't have children yet, but I do know little girls at church and elsewhere who are wearing their hair natural. I know the world is pressing on them (your article shows us it can happen VERY early) to match a certain beauty standard. This is a good reminder to all of us to encourage the girls in our lives and have conversations with them about *true* beauty.

Shoni Freeman said...

Asmarett -- I was skimming this post in my Google reader, as I normally do these days, and some of the wording in your post actually caused me to stop, click the link, and read this article slowly and carefully. Well done! I got goosebumps when you said you went natural shortly after "the talk."

I don't have children yet, but I do know little girls at church and elsewhere who are wearing their hair natural. I know the world is pressing on them (your article shows us it can happen VERY early) to match a certain beauty standard. This is a good reminder to all of us to encourage the girls in our lives and have conversations with them about *true* beauty.

Anonymous said...

Blkqueen 700- Wow what a moving read, so glad for you and your daughter. I wish that more mothers took your approach. You are both saving your God given hair now.

Happily Naturally said...

Great article! When my daughter was 3 she attended a school were there was only one other black child. When she were 2 puff balls she was told that she had nappy hair! I to had to have "the" talk with her. It's sad that kids think like this.

Brooke B. said...

It's a shame that as a woman of color we still have to defend our hair till this day, but as a child it shouldn't be a problem or anything that they should have to be concerned with. Kids should be able to be just that kids with no worries of being pointed out & made fun of cause of their hair. I pray that this world will one day be a place where everyone can learn to appreciate different cultures & races.

Rolanda Williams said...

Thanks for sharing, this reminded me of an incident where a child at my daughter's preschool said she had "clown" hair, but luckily the teacher pointed out that she had beautiful hair. It saddens me that so many who are in authority stick with the status quo, but only until we all stop the negativity concerning good hair/bad hair ignorance it will continue. I constantly have to reinforce that what comes out of your scalp is beautiful to my daughter, but stories like this are very encouraging. I myself went natural at 13, and I was naive to the fact that many people believe they have a say so in how any black female chooses to wear "her" hair. I'm glad there are more parents going against the grain, and allowing their daughters the chance to experience the beauty of their own hair.

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