Friday, August 15, 2008


We are out of town this weekend(at a much needed spiritual refresher), but before we left I needed to rebraid or re-do Makenna's hair so that we wouldn't have to worry about it at all for the next week or two as we will be gone alot! So, we decided to do lots of two strand twists. So cute!

I got to thinking about all of the worry that is placed on my sweet girls' curls. Before they came I wondered if I would be able to do it their hair? Could I ever learn to cornrow when I am so NOT a hair person? What would other people say if I didn't do it right? And, on and on and on. It was one of the first things people asked me about. And, it is one of the first things people ask when they meet the girls--who does their hair? Or, YOU do their hair, how did you learn to do that? Like it is this impossible task for a white woman to learn to care for black childrens hair.

And, now there has been some discussion on some of our adoption groups and the forum for our agency about locs, where the hair is permanently locked together in small sections or hair, either by braids, or by rolling the hair together. Is it the right thing to do? What is the political message you are sending if you do loc your kiddos hair? Is there still a political message? What is the feedback they will get from the AA community? From other Ethiopians or Africans? And, on and on and on.

I never knew there would be so much drama surrounding the hair. I know that sounds naive, but I truly never understood it before we lived it. I may have heard about it, but I didn't understand it. And, I never will fully because I won't ever have to live it. And, I will not stand in judgement of what any mom chooses to do for their child, including hair. All, I do know is that I love the girls' hair! And, they have such different hair that it is crazy. Makenna's is thick, kinky, light brown and has truly perfect spirals. Kya's is soft, fine, dark and loopy. But, either way I just think it's beautiful. I LOVE their hair. And, I really have come to like doing it. Kya's we can't do much with yet, it just doesn't last long. But I have been putting puffs in and it is growing. And, Makenna's we do. It's a creative outlet for both of us. She gets to pick her 'do and I adapt it to my skill level. :) It's this special time we get together that I just can't imagine giving up entirely. That is one of my biggest concerns about locing her hair. I don't want it to be a cop out. I want to teach her to care for her hair naturally until she is old enough to choose how she wants her hair to be. I want to see her with "free" hair because I love how she looks. I want to spend that time teaching her that she is not the sum of her hair, but that her hair is just another part of what I hope will be a beautiful little soul inside and out. I suppose it's all about balance huh? Any thoughts about it all out there from any readers? I am definitely open to hearing others thoughts on the matter!

Here is M right after her bath with free hair, and then 2 very late hours later when I finished her hair and Makenna finished watching the Brandy version of Cinderella. She was a very happy but tired girl and I really had to work to get the after pics.




Spark said...

What gorgeous curls! We don't get those with wet hair at our house and I always wonder what the difference is in hair that causes them.

I feel the same way you do about hair care, and worry that locs are some sort of easy way out. But I also love the freedom they represent - not from doing hair, as they do require significant maintenance and upkeep. But freedom to get hair wet, swim, sleep and, most importantly to my daughter, to wear it down - which she loves.

Nancy said...

The topic of hair is an issue based on a lot of politics and history that is for sure. It seems odd that hair, of all things, would have so much value. I, like you, have not had to understand it because I can just whip my hair back into a pony tail with no thought or time commitment. I don't judge what others decide as it is a personal choice; but culturally whether we realize it or not, it is a choice that will have impact on our children more than us.

I have had many black friends who decided to process their hair chemically so it is easier to manage. I also know some who have cut it low and loc'd it for the same reason. I think we are in a day and age where more choice is given and woman are gaining a personal freedom for deciding for themselves what they want to do with their hair. But as keepers of our girls we have to make those choices for them.

Makena has different hair texture that is not braid friendly. Her hair has to be managed everyday in order to keep it tangle free and properly conditioned. There are days when I just don't want to deal with it. Every day is a day she just doesn't want to deal with it. But I have to stop myself and make it a priority and a special time and be so careful not to send a message that her hair is a burden.

Wow, I guess I had more to say than originally planned so I think I will stop there. I guess my point is that like you, I don't judge what others feel necessary but I think we, who have not had hair or race as an issue, need to think beyond the moment and instill a value of pride in our children's hair.

Okay done have a great time at the retreat...lucky you!

JYS said...


I am so with you! I saw the discussion on locs on the forum and wasn't quite sure what to think about it.

Like you, I love Emma's's taken lots of practice but I think we have it figured out, thanks partly because of you! I always check out Kenna's do's and try to copy them! I think her and Emma really have very similar hair. I love it!

So, tell me this, are you like me that when a white person asks "did you do her hair", do you get annoyed but if an african american asks do you feel proud in saying yes?

BTW please give me tips on the do you just did, it's gorgeous, I've tried something similar but this looks even better!


Anonymous said...

I think you do such a beautiful job with Makenna's hair. It is always gorgeous. I was disheartened by the loc discussion on the forum. No matter how you spin it locing a 5 yr. olds hair is done because you are tired of "dealing" with it. It's impossible for a 5yr. old to know the ramifications of a style like that. If she changes her mind in 2 weeks, she will have to be shaved bald. I just hope that mom will decide against the decision to ruin her child's hair. When her daughter is an adult she can and should style her hair in any way she feels comfortable with. I wonder if that mom's bio daughter decided she wanted to loc her hair would she allow it, of course not. And just in case you are unsure, caucasion hair can be loced with some effort.

Sorry, didn't mean to ramble on.


Single PAP said...

wow, impressive! her hair looks beautiful.

Monica Lidya's Mom said...

I agree with the other posters Mackenna's hair always looks fabulous and you do an excellent job. I am AA and also had to learn a few tihngs about doing my Ethiopian daughters hair. It's different from mine much more fragile and so I had to learn a few things about it too. I also get the "who did her hair" questions all the time. Even though people assume my daughter is biological. I guess I don't look like I can do hair, but I'm always proud to say I did it(unless it's looking crazy).

As far as the locs discussion on the forum, I agree with Terrie. My gut reaction was to feel that the work it takes to keep curly curly hair looking nice, all the time, has turned out to be too much work. I thought about past discussions where white parents on the forum didn't understand why black people where always asking them about hair, and placing so much value on it. White America, like it or not, judges black children by many things and hair is a big one. Many black women believe that the state of a child's head shows how well (or not) they are being cared for. Sp it's important to us. Black people don't believe that white people can understand before hand how much time and effort black hair can take, so we feel like it's our duty to keep reminding white Mom's that you have to do it, it's a lot of work and it's a lifetime commitment or at leat until they can do their own hair.

Locing is politcal and is viewed negatively in certain segments of both the white and black world. I also agree that 5 is too young to make such a permanent decision. I just kept thinking what if that very girly girl has to have her head shaved? Now that would be traumatic.

Wow I just wrote a book.

Kari said...

Thanks for all of the feedback ladies. Your thoughts were so greatly appreaciated. More food for thought for me.

Again, I have no judgement either way, but I just am realizing more and more that the decision that I make in this regard is deeply loaded either way. And, one I will not take lightly as we go forward.

Jessica, they are just two strand twists all over her head. No parts, nothing special just two strand twists with snaps on the end.

Kerry and Tom said...

she has such beautiful hair!!!!

Brina said...

OMG!! She is BEAUTIFUL!!! I love her hair. I just came across your blog and am enjoying reading it. We are in in the process of our second adoption and will be adopting an AA baby girl. I'll admit that they only thing that scares me is that I won't be able to make her hair beautiful! :) Our son has beautiful hair, but it's very 'wash and wear'. :)

Spring said...

Thanks for saying EXACTLY what I'm thinking. I also love doing my daughter's hair. I met her in Feb and at the time, she didn't have much hair to work with. Since then it's grown in and I like learning new styles. I get the comments like you do. Not sure why people think it's such a big deal to do her hair. It's not.

Your girls are beautiful!

Tami said...

You always do such a wonderful job with the girls hair..better than some of my friends with their kids. LOL