Growing up, we had a family tradition that little girls waited until the age of 11 or 12 to get a relaxer. When I went to school, other African American girls were , for the most part, also natural. It may have been pressed or blowdried, but it was not relaxed. I fondly remember coming in from the playground and seeing everyone’s pressed hair “go back” from all the running and playing outside.
Fast forward to adulthood. Now, I’m not around a lot of little girls on a regular basis, but I see them out and about. It’s obvious to me that children are being “chemically altered” younger and younger.
I was hanging out with a friend whose nieces were visiting when I noticed their hair. It was very limp, with a slight wave and heavily greased. I asked the little girls if they had natural hair, just because I couldn’t figure out what exactly was going on with it. They said their mom put a texturizer in it.
Their hair looked horrible. They were maybe 7 and 8.
Are little girls getting relaxers earlier now? I think they are, but why? Why am I seeing so many toddlers with “ate up” hair? I’ve been thinking hard on this one and I’ve come up with the following reasons.
Texture softener companies are “tricksy and false”. Thanks to Gollum for the accurate description. By the way, if we keep doing this to our kids tender little scalps, their hair is going to look like Gollum’s by the time they are in their 20s.
Mothers are obviously being tricked by the “gentle” texture softeners . If you ask them if they relax their daughters hair, they say “No, I texturize”. They don’t put it on the same level. The words “gentle” and “for kids” lull parents into a false sense of security that this is not the dreaded, dangerous relaxer, but a nice, safe alternative.
We like things fast and we like them convenient. You can stop on the way home from work and, in five minutes, have a full meal for your family without having to turn on the stove. You can pay your bills online and file your taxes just as easily.
It’s just the world we live in…and for most of us hair is no exception. So, if you’re a busy mom with enough on your hands already, of course you may look for the easier option when dealing with your child’s hair. And with claims like “worry free manageability”, who wouldn’t be excited? After all, we are the “now” generation.
Whatever the reasons, it can’t be good. This article, though it lists many different reasons not to relax children’s hair, lists a reason that I see as being one of the biggest problems:
10 ) The period of age 5-12 is a very crucial time for child development and when a child has low self esteem due to poor self image during this time the results are often times difficult to reverse.
• More than 40% of African American girls have a case of hair loss or alopecia areata by the time they reach the age of 16 and are forced to thus wear wigs and weaves for the rest of their lives to cover up the damage.
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