A picture of a 4-month-old baby girl with straightened hair (seemingly by flat ironing) has circulated Facebook, sparking outrage and broaching the question: How young is too young to introduce children to hair straightening and relaxers. While women, both natural and relaxed, have denounced the mother because the child is so young, my question is, how is this any different than straightening/relaxing a child’s hair at age 4 or 8 or 12 or 15? The message being transmitted from mother to child is the same: Your hair is not okay as it is and would look better if it were straight. Sending that message to a preteen girl is just as harmful as sending it to a baby (I mean, at least the baby doesn’t fully understand what’s going on!) It’s unfortunate how hair insecurities are so often passed on from black mother to child, almost like a rite of passage. Ladies, what are your thoughts?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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176 Comments on "Mom Posts Photo of 4-Month-Old Daughter with Straightened Hair on Facebook, Sparks Outrage"

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Lynnquell Gardiner

Mental messages aside, there are obvious differences between straightening a 4 month old and toddlers hair. For one, that child’s cranial structures are not even entirely formed which could lead to obvious damages by applying pressure/heat to her hair. I see your point but before making the matter subjective it’s so important to view the matter objectively first. This is physically and potentially harmful and just completely unnecessary for that baby.

nikki
Saying that mothers are promoting a self image issue is judjudgemental. My daughter is 6 and her hair is thick thick thick curls that are hard to manage. I spend 3 hours braiding them every couple weeks. I constantly tell her how beautiful her hair is. She hates her “afro” because no one else in her class has hair like hers. I’m just innocently googling to see if flat ironing is an option at her age because of how much maintenence her curls are and how excited she would be to see her hair down and not up. To read… Read more »
Coley

Honestly I see no issue here. A mother can style her child’s hair as she pleases. There’s no chemical danger. I curled my Lil ones ponytails because her hair was so super straight.
Why not? It’s not defining, merely presenting an option. We all know that as tweens we experiment with our appearance, so why not demonstrate alternatives, as parents, that we like and are familiar with? Then, they’ll know more about it and there’s less risk of injury or hair loss.
Just my angle.

sum21

Nevermind the insecurities and hair issue. Let’s talk about the baby’s safety. That’s the diffrence between using any heat on a child this young and a 15 yr old. Come on now, that’s child abuse!

Shonta Y

My natural is beautiful

Tracy

I think this entire conversation reflects poorly on blacks as a culture. All black girls DO is talk about hair. I’ve never experienced such obsession about hair with other cultures as I’ve experienced with blacks. So much judgement; about whether hair is processed or not. “good hair” vs healthy hair. Blacks girls with NO hair are always judging black girls with long, fine hair; so they encourage that they “cut it off”. Too much discussion on healthy hair when you need to focus on healthy BODIES and MENTAL health.

ruby

Every culture does it. It’s just publicized more with blacks! ! So get off your high horse and stop making this a race thing. It’s Parthetic.

Yasmine
I don’t agree with straightening the baby’s hair , but I don’t understand why it isn’t okay to straighten a child’s hair at 5 . I mean then cutting a child’s hair into a “mushroom cut” or a ” pixie cut” should be frowned upon . Some kids have very thick and literally unmanageable hair . How many black women remember getting their hair hot combed ? Hot combing made the hair easier to maintain . I don’t think there is nothing wrong with having permed hair . I am completely natural and I used to get relaxers every 3… Read more »
Stephanie

I think and feel that 4 months is too young as well as 4 years old. Myself personally I didn’t get my hair relaxed till I was 7 because I hated to get my hair straightened. But now that I have a little girl of my own I’m going to leave it up to her if she wants to relax her hair or not.

K

I think the outrage in part also comes from the worry of burning the baby in the process of straightening her hair. The message is a concern, but to me it comes second to the risk factor.

Donna
My daughter is 21 years old now. I started straightening her hair with heat at age 2. I did this because like myself she has thick, coarse hair that was extremely hard to manage. On top of that she she is very tender headed.I did this until I burned her forehead. It wasn’t long before I texturized her hair. This gave us both some relief. 4 months is way too young. My daughter was born with twice the hair in length and density as that baby. So my point is I did it out of necessity not because I felt… Read more »
Debria

I think we pass on other messages that our hair is not okay other than perms and straightening. Everywhere you look there’s women doing constant length checks, obsessing over another’s regimen, or curl pattern.I see plenty of comments like “I wish I had your hair” or “Can i give these hair growth pills to my 2 year old” Straightening your hair (if you think it is self-hate) is not the only bad message.

shay
i agree with the writer straightening a baby’s hair is no different than straightening a 5 or 6 year old’s. But as long as you’re not doing it all the time/making it permanent I don’t think either is problematic… but that’s just it. “I think”. That’s just my opinion and I am not going to impose my opinion onto someone else. I think we invest way too much time and energy into whether hair is in its natural state or not. we segregate – girls with perms are judged by the natural sisters. naturalistas are judged by other cultures and… Read more »
Sarah
I find it interesting that so many people are upset about this but in the same breath speak negatively of Beyonce and JayZ letting their daughter run around rocking her natural hair. The picture of Jay Z holding Blue on her birthday that has circled around many social sites all have comments of how she needs her hair done even straightened. A child’s hair is so sensitive and not much should be done to it outside of washing and conditioning it. It is the parent’s job to teach their child how to take care of themselves but more importantly how… Read more »
Treasure

I absolutely agree. I honestly believe black people put too much importance based on hair and I think it’s time we this in perspective

Billy

Some black women are plain stupid

Terrell

So are some white women. As well as Asian and Latino women. What’s your point?

Yulonda Smith
While I agree that this is not smart! Using harsh chemicals on a child is terrible! However, I wish we would stop arguing about what adults do to THEIR own hair. I am natural because my hair is manageable and I like it this way but I do not condemn people who straighten their hair. Not everyone finds managing natural hair easy. It should be their choice. Other people with natural hair often frown at me because they ASSUME my hair is relaxed because my natural curl pattern is very loose especially when I use detangling conditioners. I don’t broadcast… Read more »
Caresscurls

This to me shows why most black girls complain about their hair not growing.

Marie

I agree! All these people talking about hair being hard to manage and their kids being tender headed. News Flash: if you start taking care of the kid’s hair instead of waiting until they become kindergartners, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to handle. And for those with tender headed kids — stop pulling and braiding with all your strength. That stuff hurts! No wonder they’re tender headed. Duh….

CiCi

;_;

Nia

What if she moved and it burned her. Im not going to straighten my kids hair until she is 7. Until then she is gonna rock her natural state before she wants a change. I would do wash and gos, braid outs, twist outs. etc you name it except heat or chemicals

autumnfaerie

7?!

Terrell

7? That makes no sense either. Try 17; at that point she can decide for herself what she wants to do with her hair.

Sosobim

Nothing is wrong with straightening hair in and of itself, but this is a health issue. The baby’s mole is still open, so she is more exposed to risk than a ten yr old.

rheely

Um..maybe it’s a bad idea because of the dangerous chemicals and or damaging heat that the ‘mother’ is exposing ths baby too. Forget natural or relaxed, who cares. But, where in heck is the common sense and maternal instinct?

EdensCornerHair
Many people have asked what is wrong with relaxing or heat processing a child’s hair. The same thing that is wrong with doing that to an adults hair but magnify it by 100. Relaxers do not just sit on the scalp they penetrate and form a thick black/green layer onto the skull. They cause different health problems the longer you use them. Some people have reported severe migraines, seizures, etc. A mortician told me that when a body comes onto her table that is unidentifiable she can usually determine if she is a black female by the amount of burns… Read more »
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