Inevitably, once a week when I’m walking through my Brooklyn neighborhood, someone will smile at my daughter and exclaim “She looks like a little Blue Ivy!” For a long time I thought it was a compliment. Turns out, it’s not.
In case you aren’t clued in, Blue Ivy’s hair has always been a big topic of debate, particularly among black women, for not being cared for properly. What many white women (myself included until recently) see as a “cute little Afro,” that “If I had a black daughter, that’s totally how I’d do her hair!” is actually viewed as a dried-out, breaking-off, hot mess of matted hair by women who share tight curls.
The outcry over Blue Ivy’s hair reached a new level this week when one of those Brooklyn neighbors of mine, Jasmine Toliver, created a Change.org petition for Blue Ivy asking Beyoncé and Jay-Z to “Comb Her Hair.” Toliver writes: “Jay-Z and Beyoncé has failed at numerous attempts of doing Blue Ivy Hair. This matter has escalated to the child developing matted dreads and lint balls. Please let’s get the word out to properly care for Blue Ivy hair.” So far the petition has over 2,000 signatures.
As a white mom to a black daughter living in a predominantly black neighborhood, I’ve learned that what I do with my daughter’s hair isn’t just a matter of personal style, it’s about basic care. I have a routine down now of washing, deep conditioning, brushing, more conditioning, and braiding my daughter’s hair. I know when I’ve gotten it right because women in the street will compliment me and won’t call her Blue Ivy.
Now, what is Beyoncé, a black woman herself, thinking? I used to quietly think to myself that it was a class thing. In my limited perspective, it seemed that high-income black women wore their hair or their daughters’ hair “out,” while lower-income black women preferred braids. (I’m purposely bowing out of the straight hair and hair weave discussion that I’m not qualified for.) Once I started asking about class and hair among trusted black friends I was always corrected. Hands down, Blue Ivy’s hair stresses out black women of all income levels and hair types.
Now when my babysitter jokes, “She’s starting to look like Blue Ivy,” I laugh but scramble into action to care properly for my daughter’s hair before the day is out!
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