Look at that hair! I remember as little girl I wished my hair could be that long and straight. I wish it was like that now! LOL! If you ever think back to when you were a little girl and if you were anything like me you couldn’t wait until you could get a relaxer and have straight long beautiful hair. Yea they told me I could get a press and curl and it would look the same but one good shower or foggy day and it left me with a confused head of part curly and straight hair. It often makes me wonder am I selling that same dream to my child?? How often do you tell your little girl that even though her hair is kinky, thick and unmanageable it just as beautiful?? Kind of hard to compete with that picture on the front of the relaxer box.
Disclaimer: Dont misunderstand I am not judging or labeling mothers who have decided to place a relaxer in their child’s hair. The purpose of this post is to educate so that you can have the tools needed to make an educated decision. Whether that decision is to relax or not relax is up to you.
Is it really safe to place such a harsh chemical on a child’s hair? Relaxers contain sodium hydroxide which is a chemical that has the ability to melt glass. Can we trust to place that on our children’s soft virgin hair? If a relaxer is not properly rinsed out of any woman’s hair let alone a child it can cause breakage, burns or permanent damage. Someone asked on About.com “At what age can I relax a child’s Hair?” Here’s the response: “The short answer here is you don’t ever have to relax a child’s hair, or an adult’s hair, for that matter….Unfortunately, because home relaxer kits are so easy and inexpensive to use, children as young as two years-old have been subject to them. Relaxers can sting, burn and cause irreparable damage to a young child’s scalp and hair follicles. This leads to sparse (or completely empty) hairlines. How many times have you seen a child with a hairline that begins inches back from where it should be?” (Sandeen) I completely agree there is no common rule that says a child has to have a relaxer. There are so many other alternatives…detanglers, moisturizers, conditioners. If only we can choose not to take the easy road. Take a look at a young girl’s journey in growing her hair back after a kiddie relaxer was placed in her hair. http://youtu.be/IcTsYF2SHg0 by AllNaptural
After viewing this video it made me think this young girl’s confidence must have been challenged. I don’t blame the mother because if you are not informed then you would never know. What matters is the determination of this mother to correct this problem. It caught my attention when I read Neal Lester’s, an English professor at Arizona State University, response to the psychological effects something so simple as getting a relaxer could have on a young girl, “
How hair style relates to self-perception has been debated since black women started straightening their hair. Neal Lester, an English professor at Arizona State University who presents talks and exhibitions about black girls and their hair, argues that for adults there’s no clear line between confidence in their racial identity and the decision to alter their hair texture. He points out that many black women who straighten their hair don’t try to conform to other prevailing American ideas of beauty, like thinness for instance. But children, Lester feels, are a different matter. Often they aren’t given the choice to straighten or not. “My concern,” Lester said, “is that when children are subjected to these types of things, they don’t have the tools to critically think through them.” But even for children, the psychic effect of straightening isn’t straightforward, said Lanita Jacobs-Huey, an anthropology professor at the University of Southern California and author of the book “From the Kitchen to the Parlor: Language and African-American Women’s Hair Care.” Straightening is seen by some as giving black girls other hairstyle options, not as an indictment of their natural hair.” (Erline Andrews)
In an article written by Talibah Newman “Ten Reasons Not to Buy Lye or No Lye Relaxers for your Children” she listed interesting and valid points about why children should not have relaxers. These are the ones I found most interesting:
- Self Hatred is a deadly disease. Through continuously straightening an African American child’s hair to make it more manageable one could be placing a seed of hatred in the child because the new look is one of a European standard of beauty. Most African American children are not familiar with what their natural hair looks like and neither do their peers so they are not taught to respect and love it.
- The FDA lists hair relaxers and hair dyes among its top consumer complaint areas.
- The hair is made up of protein and this protein is necessary to promote the growth, strength, and health of the hair. Hair relaxers and perms destroy the protein that makes up the hair by rearranging and breaking the bonds that hold the hair in its natural shape.
Here is a great YouTube Subscription I found that gives many ideas and tips for styling and caring for young girls’ natural hair. Its called “Girls Love Your Curls”. Click here and view one of her videos —>Girls Love Your Curls
I would love to hear your opinion on relaxers for children…
Pic from beadsbraidsbeyond.blogspot.com