Coco has gorgeous, thick curls but since moving here she has a strong desire to have, as she calls it, “big hair.” She says she wants hair that hangs down and she will put towels or shirts over her head and shake it or pat it down in her imaginary play.
I probably shouldn’t be bothered by this, because I too did this as a child, but I am. She is starting to notice differences in people now, including skin color. She tells me she is “black” and I am “yeddow” and we spend a lot time discussing how moms and kids don’t have to “match” with the help of books like A Mother for Choko, but this rubs hair thing me differently. Though her class is very international, most of her classmates have straight hair and are not the gorgeous chocolate brown that she is so I go out of my way to tell things like, “Who has the most gorgeous skin in the preschool?” or saying how beautiful her curls are. On one hand I think saying these things is necessary for her to build a positive self-image but I at the same time I don’t want her to focus on a lot on physical characteristics. I spend equal time– no more– talking about the importance of being polite, saying kind things, perseverance, etc.
But when it comes to differences the thing she focuses most on is hair. I suppose you can change your hair in pretend play and not your skin color so that may have something to do with it but also nearly 100% of the dolls in toy stores have long, straight hair so she is constantly being bombarded with the long-straight-hair-is-beautiful images, not to mention the commercials and advertisements here have Asian people in them exclusively. Nearly everywhere we go she sees people with long straight hair. On top of this, strangers are always reminding her that her hair is different. People are constantly coming up to her and touching her hair! I’m not kidding. Complete strangers find it perfectly acceptable to walk up to her and put their hands in her hair and pull on the curls. I asked her if it bothered her and she said it did so I told her to tell them not to do it. Now when someone touches her hair she says, “My mommy said don’t touch my hair!” LOL
Clearly part of the issue with this is me. It bothers me that her hair is so short. I don’t tell her that of course because it’s adorable and easy to care for but I do wonder why it is taking so long to grow. Some of the families who adopted when I did had their child’s head shaved and their child’s hair has grown back and it’s longer than Coco’s. It is astounding and to be honest it is starting to concern me. She eats a very healthy diet most of the time, I use natural products like coconut oil in her hair, we only wash it once a week and she usually sleeps with a sleep cap. I had her wearing it out quite a bit at first but now I am doing more style thinking the ends need to be more protected. I also suspect that her even though it wasn’t getting washed, her hair getting wet in the tub every night may have had something to do with it so I have instructed the new yaya to keep that from happening. But honestly, I really don’t know! Anyone got some tips for me?
Hair. It’s such a sensitive topic, isn’t it?