Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Little Girls With Perms

Back in the day, getting your hair permed was akin to being able to date, wearing makeup and other female rights of passage. This doesn't seem to be the case anymore. I live in a multicultural neighborhood and I see many little black girls (African-Americans and early generation West African-American) with permed hair. Some of these little girls can't be more than 10 and their hair looks like it has been chewed up by some kind of hair monster.

This has GOT to affect their self esteem as they become teenagers and young women. How we look plays a big part in how we see ourselves and helping us to determine our self worth. If you're the parent of a kinky or nappy headed little girl, when you slap a perm in it to make it more 'manageable' what message are you sending to her? Are you communicating to her that her natural hair is not good enough? Are you sure?

This is not a rant against perms. I think you should do you. I'm not a natural-nazi or a perm hater. But, I think the Perm Methodology should be similar to the way long division is taught. Remember when you were in 4th grade and were first introduced to long division. Your teacher wouldn't let you use a calculator to complete your assignments. Her rationale was that you need to understand how the process works before you can start using shortcuts.

Similarly, women should learn the ins and outs of their natural hair before changing it chemically. If you can maintain a head of healthy hair on your head before a perm, arguably, you can do the same once you perm it. Plus, if more kinky/nappy haired women would wear their hair natural, it would give little girls a few more role models. It's nice to have someone that looks like you to look up to.

There are 5 year olds out there right now whose parents are planning to get their back to school weaves. There's nothing wrong with weaves. But, come on, how do you take gym without worrying about the tracks falling out? That's alot of pressure for an elementary schooler.

Just think about it.

Let's go back to the natural ponytail puffs.

Slick it down with a little water and grease.

That wasn't so bad, was it?



Anonymous said...

Hi Penni. Here's a thought... Instead of purchasing perms or weaves for their lil girls, perhaps parents could purchase the India Arie song "i am not my hair".

Penni Brown said...

To anonymous - That would be a good start.