After Girl Gets Bullied All Day for Her Natural Hair, Mom Asks Parents To Do Better

Audrey Carter
Adelle Carter/Facebook

Last month, Adelle Carter was surprised to get a call at home from her daughter Audrey's school -- and when she learned the reason why, her heart sank. Audrey, who is biracial, had gone to class that day with her hair in its natural state, something she doesn't often do on most days because she prefers it pulled back. But that morning, in the rush to get her kids off to school, Adelle says she didn't have time to do her daughter's hair, and as Audrey's teacher relayed, the 11-year-old had been teased mercilessly for it by classmates.

  • Taking to Facebook, the mom of two from Washington said her daughter was made fun of all day, with classmates calling her "Fro."

    Audrey and her little sister
    Adelle Carter

    Over and over, she was asked why her hair was so big and if she was "having a bad hair day," Adelle shared on Facebook. Nosy classmates wondered aloud why she wouldn't just shove it all under her hood and hide it away, and asked what happened to her hair to make it look that way.

    The digs were relentless, and they stung Adelle as her daughter's teacher relayed each one.

    "I am so upset I want to cry," she wrote. "My baby was born with it."

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  • If there was one silver lining, Adelle says it lies in how her daughter reacted to her classmates' barbs.

    "The teacher told me that Audrey handled the situation beautifully," Adelle shared. "She told her fellow classmates her name is not fro and that her name is Audrey and no one will call her anything else. She told them her hair is beautiful and she loves it."

    Speaking with CafeMom, Adelle says that when she later spoke to her daughter about what happened, she brimmed with pride. But sadly, it's not the first time something like this has occurred.

    "She has dealt with this several of times," Adelle shares. "In this situation she said she felt really sad because everywhere she turned at school, someone said something rude to her. People gave her dirty looks and just kept saying mean things about her hair. But she said she pulled herself together and tried to explain to her fellow classmates why this hurt her."

  • Adelle shares that in moments like these, she tries her best to be a source of compassion and strength for her daughter.

    Adelle Carter and her husband
    Adelle Carter

    "I listen to her so that she is heard," she says. "I give her extra big hugs and remind her of who is. I remind her of how beautiful her hair is and told her how proud I am of her for how she handled the situation. I told her how proud I was of her for trying to educate others."

    But therein lies the crux of the issue: When children are bullied for being "different," the burden shouldn't solely rest on their shoulders to set their classmates straight.
  • In her Facebook post, which has quickly made the rounds online, Adelle urges other parents to step up.

    At the end of the day, it's not enough that we encourage our own kids to embrace their natural beauty -- we need to encourage them to embrace others' as well.

    "Talk to your kids about these types of issues even if they don't have this hair type," she wrote. "I think because I have these conversations with Audrey she was able to react the way she did. She knows those comments come from ignorance and she's here to educate. I'm proud of my baby."

    Since writing the post on October 14, Adelle has watched in amazement as it's gone viral, with more than 23K shares and counting. She says she's also been shocked to receive private messages from as far away as Egypt, Bermuda, and the UK -- some of whom are messaging Audrey to tell her how beautiful she is and to not let others make her feel less than, her mother tells CafeMom. 

    She's even had requests to make empowerment videos for other young kids like her and has been interviewed by a local radio station. Her mother says the family "is in shock" by how far the story has spread -- and how positively people are receiving it.

  • The post itself has also been flooded with thousands of comments, many from people telling Audrey to keep rocking that unapologetic confidence.

    Audrey and Adelle Carter
    Adelle Carter

    "She is a beautiful girl," wrote one woman. "I went through the same thing in 1967 when wearing my fro for the first time. Black and proud was my reply."

    "Our culture has so normalized 'white' hair that anything is seen as an oddity," another person noted. "I applaud your daughter's bravery. It should not fall on her to have to educate, but her courage will hopefully help others. Thanks for preparing her for what she had to face!"

    "Her hair is beautiful, and I'm impressed with how she handled a difficult response!" a third woman commented. "Hopefully the kids at her school learned something from her that will make them think twice before making comments out of ignorance to her and others in the future."

    It sounds as though they did. Adelle says her daughter's school "did an amazing job of sitting the kids down and having Audrey explain how this hurt her." Many of the kids felt bad, she says, and ultimately apologized. 

  • At the end of the day, Adelle says the entire incident made her daughter's sense of self-worth even stronger.

    Audrey Carter
    Adelle Carter

    "Audrey has always been very confident, but this has helped her embrace her hair even more," she shares. "She wants to do her own hair now and that was something she struggled with, but now she's been taking the time and effort to pick out her fro and make sure she's conditioning it properly. Oiling her scalp, too! All things I use to do [for her]."

    Way to go, Audrey! Here's hoping your story continues to spread both awareness and acceptance.