By Tracey Parker
As a mother to an eight-year-old daughter, we are living in a society where the media dictates what is beautiful and acceptable. The commercials show case models with the perfect teeth and long straight hair, displays young girls with blue eyes and blonde hair, and even the cartoons shown are still not quite diverse enough. What happens when we have our young black daughters absorbing these subliminal messages? This is what happens….
One day I was taking my daughter’s hair out and I asked her to go look at her little afro in the mirror. She turned and looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “No”. I asked her why. Her response was “I do not like my hair like this”. As a mother, I was absolutely shocked and taken aback as I watched her little innocent eyes fill with tears and run over. I know that the only way she could have come to this thought was by watching and formulating her own opinion on how she should, or thought, she should be. I walked over to her, gave her huge hug, and then stooped to her level looking her right I her eyes. “Nia, there is nothing wrong with your hair; it is beautiful. God made no mistake with you and everything down to your hair is unique”. She then shook her head and patted her hair. Once that incident took place, I began to think and have a revelation; my daughter is getting older and she is starting to take notice of everything.
Mom, dad, one of the most important things we must teach our daughters is self-love. When they are born, they are a clean slate and the information they absorb whether through television or things they hear, will began to shape and form their personalities. It is crucial that we are the first teachers in their lives along with being the first ones to answer their questions. Teach our little princesses that they are beautiful by telling them so; encourage them to embrace every part of their bodies. Show them pictures of African-American women with the braids and puffs and start telling them about their history. Answer their questions! Hug on them and love them; help them to develop a sense of self so strong it is engraved on their hearts and minds.
Now this process will not happen overnight, and there will be stumbles but persevere. If we are not the ones to love on and teach our daughters, we will be allowing the streets to take control and dictate what they are supposed to be.