Beauty is constantly changing and evolving and likewise REvolving! The standards of beauty may be moving toward a more diverse industry, but there are still many of the same struggles in beauty that were present in earlier years. Black Women often fashioned their hair in straight, sleek or smooth styles to mirror European styles, and have made the hair weaving industry a Multi Billion Dollar industry to support the desire to wear long, straight hair, or straight styles that are “easy to manage”.
It’s everywhere, not just on screen with Angelina Jolie or Beyonce, but it’s in the school and the church. Many teachers wear simple wash and go styles that are easy to maintain while classmates often wear long, straight, blonde hair. Either style is simple to maintain; longer hair can be pulled back into a smooth pony tail or a messy bun and boys seem to just be boys, being attracted to the more Barbie type girls as opposed to others. These everyday images are what little girls see and when there isn’t a positive reinforcement at home, the confidence of that little girl may waiver or fail completely.
Helping children to see themselves in a more positive light and to embrace their natural beauty begins at home, at birth. You can help debunk the myths about beauty by implementing some of the tips below:
1. Deposit positive affirmations in their lives daily. For example, leave notes in their lunch or back packs like, your hair looked great today or I loved your outfit, or I know you’ll do well on your test.
2. Encourage individuality. If your child wants to wear a mohawk, you don’t have to cut all their hair off, you can make a simulated one or let them wear it on the weekends when school isn’t in session.
3. Show them by example. If you want your child to embrace their natural hair, it may be easier to do if Mom, Grandma or Auntie is also natural. Having more prominent leaders doing as they suggest is a strong and positive influence for young girls.
4. Stir up their gifts. If your child wants to play piano, basketball, soccer, join the drama team or become an engineer, try to encourage them in those areas. Attend practice with them, join parent boosters or sign up to be a stage hand for a play. Seeing that their parents care about what they do will encourage them to keep going.
5. Do something fun. Arrange a photo shoot or take an art class together. Write a song or poem or have a big slumber party where everyone sleeps in the living room. Have fun with your kids and let them be themselves while you demonstrate unconditional love to them.
6. Be careful. The things we say have a weight on them. Some things may be too much for children to bear. Saying your child’s hair is nappy, they are dumb, they are fat or “slow” has an impact on them and others around them. Be careful of what you say, how you say it and who you say it to. Kids will hear enough negativity in the halls of their schools.
7. Lift the standard of beauty. If your child only watches MTV, Nickelodeon or BET, try showing them other things like original films, documentaries, art exhibits or take them to plays or musicals from different producers. You could also attend a yoga class or belly dancing to work out or try out henna tattoos for a family afternoon out. Seeing beauty from other cultures and displayed outside of main stream media will help promote acceptance of everyone.
8. Address concerns and issues. Don’t ignore a child’s cry for help. If they want to change something about their appearance or go to a new school or stop participating in an event, find out why. See if there is a way you can resolve the issue or help them cope so they can continue having a good quality of life.
9. Have a spa day. Even boys with longer hair wouldn’t mind a fun night with Mom or Dad. Make a night of it, bake cookies, pop some pop corn and break out your family favorite films and make hair washing day more pleasant for everyone. Even tender headed children can be less tense and have less fear if we make a few changes to make their experience more positive. For younger kids, let them wear a swimsuit and put toys in the tub, wash their hair and let them play a while, they will love it.
10. Help them to enjoy life. Children who are stressed because the parents are stressed can also lean toward not liking life or themselves. Dealing with a parent’s stress, unhappiness or sadness can trickle down into a child’s heart and make everything seem like it is covered in a dark cloud. Even if in the midst of adversity, try to allow your child to enjoy being a child as much as you can for as long as you can-it makes a difference.