When I was pregnant one of the things I was looking forward to was having a little girl I could dress pretty and do her hair. It was really important to me that her hair would look healthy and shiny and well maintained with pretty little clips and bows in it. I didn’t think much about how I would do this, I guess I just assumed my daughter (if I had a girl) would also want her hair to look pretty and would sit nicely every morning for me to do it!
When Rayne was old enough to tell me she didn’t want me to brush her hair I was conflicted. I didn’t want to tell her that having nicely brushed hair would make her look pretty or beautiful as I wanted her to know that beauty is more than just appearance and plus she was beautiful no matter what her hair looked like. Young girls have enough pressure from social media etc these days, I did not want to add to this pressure at such a young age. It also didn’t feel right to me to make her sit and have her hair brushed when she didn’t want to. For what reason would I be making her? To appease me, her grandparents, her friend’s parents, teachers?? So that I wouldn’t get judged as a parent for not brushing my child’s hair? All these things didn’t seem as important to me as my daughter’s right to say “no”, her control over her own body; her autonomy.
You see, I want my daughter’s to know that they can say “no” whenever they want to. They can say no to their friends if they don’t wan to play something that doesn’t feel right to them, they can say no to hugs if they don’t want to be touched by others and as they get older it will hopefully give them the confidence and power to own their bodies. How can I help them to understand and learn this if I am forcing them to do something they do not want, for the purpose of making them look a certain way; a way that is socially acceptable.
This is why I have never forced my children to allow me to brush their hair.
I have had comments and looks from people about Rose’s hair being dreadlocked and about Rayne’s hair being dry or about it being shaved on the sides. I have seen little girls with silky, moist curls and have doubted myself for allowing my girls to look what some people would consider to be unkempt. I have been close to bribing them to allow me to brush their hair or scaring them by telling them it would need to be shaved if they didn’t let me brush it. I am so thankful that I did not go ahead and do these things as it would have been for the benefit of others, not the benefit of my children, who I want to grow up knowing that their body is theirs and theirs only.
In the picture above you can see dreadlocks in Rose’s hair from not being brushed for over 2 months. I kept asking every day if I could brush it with no expectations. Then one day she said “OK Mummy”. She sat on the bed for over an hour while I combed out every single dreadlock.
I used Naissance Aloe Vera gel to moisten the hair while I combed it, starting from the bottom of each knot. The Aloe Vera worked as a conditioning mask also and I washed it out the following day. It left her hair feeling silky smooth and looking shiny.
She didn’t moan or ask me to stop once!! If she had asked me to stop I would have, even if I was half way through. All the doubts I had disappeared with every knot I combed out of her hair. I will admit, I was relieved that the knots came out quite easily and Rose was happy to see how long her hair had grown but most of all I felt glad that I had not forced nor bribed her to get her hair brushed to “look pretty”. After all, it is her body and her choice!!
Do you have any body autonomy struggles with your children? I would love to hear about them..