Willow Smith is a cute kid, but I guess by now she should be used to causing controversy. Even before she was whipping her hair back and forth, she had shaved half of it off. Folks were scolding her parents — especially her mama — for letting her do something so radical to her appearance at such a young age.
I personally didn’t get all the hub bub. I thought it was cute — on her. Let it be known that if Tween Girl Fantastic came sashaying home to announce that she wanted to go half-bald, I’d look at her like she was a one-legged unicorn and keep it movin’. Then again, we got similar flack when we made the mutual decision to dreadlock her hair back when she was in the second grade.
I see young kids with mohawks and wild colors. And somewhere out there, I’m sure the majority of them have mothers who apparently OKed their little adventure in self-expression. Is there anything that's too extreme? Isn't it just hair?
That theory is only cool when it’s applied to celebrity kids. But those are famous people’s offspring with names like Denim and Diesel and Apple and Tallulah. They’ve got oodles of money and prestige at their disposal. Before they celebrate a double-digit age, they’ve amassed more adventures than I’ve got on my friggin’ bucket list and traveled to faraway lands I vaguely remember seeing in my National Geographic a la Brangelina’s tribe. They were never going to live normal lives anyway, so a half-shaven head isn’t going to hurt matters much.
But for us run-of-the-mill folks who have to drop children off to regular ol’ school and shop in the regular ol’ store, it can be a fine line to encourage your child’s individuality and creativity without allowing them to live out every hair whim and make themselves look like crazy freaks. The Girl, for example, wants to dye her locs blue.
Insert my blank stare here.
Not her whole head, she says. Just the tips.
Again with the blank stare.
First of all, unlike the aforementioned fine line, the division between tacky and tasteful is a pretty big chasm. Blue-haired loc tips, I’m going to venture, fall more into the former category than the latter. It was bad enough that we rebelled against her grandmothers and her father when we locked her hair in the first place.
Dreadlocks, for those of you who aren’t hip to the wild and wooly ways of African-American hair, are irreversible. I mean, you can get them hammered and combed out but the process takes days, you risk a tremendous amount of hair loss, and it can cost upwards of a thousand bucks to have done professionally. In short, it’s just easier and cheaper to cut them off, go super short, and start the next chapter of your hairstylin’.
But she had some really slow-to-grow stuff coming out of the top of her head that I refused to slather with straightening chemicals, even though I myself have a perm. Dreadlocks were the perfect solution. I thought she’d look gorgeous with them, she liked the idea of them, so bada bing: five years later she’s got a head full of very un-Bob Marley, very neat and girly locs that she can curl and style like any other kind of hair.
But dyeing them? Not at 12. And certainly, most definitely not blue.
Just about every kid has a story about cutting their own bangs. With household scissors, with safety scissors, with the coupon cutting pair you kept stashed in the kitchen drawer. Those experiments sure do make for blackmail — sorry — really adorable memories and little kid pictures. But in order for your kid not to walk around looking like a ousted member of Kiss or Parliament Funkadelic, it’s probably not a good idea to let them just do any ol’ kind of thing to their mane. Just for the sake of getting in and out of Wal-mart without a bunch of stares and sneaky cell phone picture-taking.
Where do you draw the line with your kids’ physical self-expression? Is there anything that you won’t allow them to do to their hair?
Image via EvelynGiggles/Flickr