Loving my own curly brown hair was a journey that took me well into my 20s, but now I can’t get enough of my daughter’s gorgeous locks.
I remember when I was my daughter’s age now, four, there was only one view of beautiful hair in the eyes of American doll makers and TV producers: blonde and naturally straight. That was the late 1980s, and my own hair was wavy, textured (thanks to my very Middle Eastern dad), and a major project to comb through. I remember actively wishing each Hanukkah for my parents to find dolls that looked like me and had thick, wavy hair like mine — but it just wasn’t a thing. The dolls didn’t look like me, and girls on TV didn’t look like me, and I wished endlessly that I sort of “matched” someone out there. Fast forward 28 years to my second child, a daughter (yay!), who was born with my exact mane on her dad’s face — and suddenly it became the most beautiful head of hair I had ever seen, even though decades earlier I couldn’t make sense of loving it. I made a point of telling her since before she could even speak or hear my words that she was the most beautiful girl in the world, because whether it’s TV or dolls, there is still a relatively narrow depiction of what beautiful hair is.
At 32 and a mom of four, now I know what it is: it’s any and all hair attached to a smiling, bright face. In fact, a recent Dove study found that 82% of girls learn to care about themselves from their mother, and Dove Hair also found that 8 in 10 women feel pressure to wear their hair a certain way. Pressure begins at an early age, which is why each morning we start our day with what I call the “Teeth, Hair, and Bows” mantra.
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After my sweet, four year old Rivkah gets dressed and eats breakfast each morning we head straight to the bathroom to brush her teeth. After her teeth are clean I ask her to show me her smile, and I tell her she’s shining the sparkliest diamonds in the world back at me. She smiles more from that, obviously. Then we comb through her curly brown hair (which is often tangled — she has three wild brothers), and sing a little made up song about how beautiful she is. At the end she picks the bows, headband, or clips she wants in her hair and we’re done, but the positive effects last all day. One day she’ll be out of my house and living her own life, and like most girls, she’ll likely feel pressured to look or act a certain way to be perceived as beautiful, but my goal is that she feels so much inner beauty already that whatever happens on the outside just isn’t major to her.
It took me till well into my 20s to feel confident about my own super-thick, curly brown hair (imagine that?), but now I can’t imagine life any other way. Although I often blow it out in the winter (it’s just too cold for me to air dry before I head out the door in the morning), I long for the days of summer when I wear it curly just about every single day. There’s a freedom in being my realest self (if that makes sense), and I love that my daughter and me share this. I love that we match in this way, and even when the world of dolls and kiddie TV characters don’t necessarily match, we do — and I hope my smiling, confident face with all that hair on top of it is enough for her to wake up each day for the rest of her life feeling happy she was born the same way.
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If you have your own daughter, I hope you share some hair-positivity with her today too — even if her hair is nothing like yours, or if her hair (or yours) really is just like the dolls on every toy store’s shelves.
You can visit LoveYourHair.Dove.com to make your own cutesy #LoveYourHair video using an image of you and your daughter together, and share it on social media or save it for the future when she has one of those “I wish I was different” days — because her hair is completely perfect the way it is, just the way you made her.
This post was sponsored by Dove, but these are my real thoughts and feelings. The routine with my daughter is also 100% accurate, and I’d love if you passed a similar one onto your baby girl as well.