Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Her Hair

You may recall me mentioning the babe's amazingly awesome black hair.  My daughter was blessed with hair from her father's side of the family and while it has a few red streaks from my side, it is mostly just stunning black hair.

Last week as we were driving home from school (she is in the "extended program"), the babe asked me when she would be able to dye her hair.  We were at a red light and I had to turn my head around to look at her and see if she was being serious.  She continued, "when am I going to be old enough to dye my hair, Mama?"

I took a deep breath and asked her why she wanted to dye her hair.  She told me she wanted it to be blonde like a lot of the girls at school.  My heart sank.  I told her what I just told you above, "Sweet heart, you have amazing black hair and you are lucky to have it.  You don't need to look like everyone else."  

This all reminded me of an independent film my husband and I watched recently called Shades of Ray. The 2008 film is about a twenty-something American man raised by his white mother and Pakistani father.  Throughout the movie he questions his identity and struggles to figure out a way to "fit in" despite the fact he is from a mixed family.

The film struck a chord with me.  It had me wondering if my kids will have similar experiences growing up in a pretty white culture and if they will struggle with their half and half identity (my husband is of Indian descent - the South Asian kind).  Is the babe's desire to dye her hair blonde at age 5 just the beginning of a longer process or was it just a one off experience?  I have a feeling it may be the former.

While Washington, D.C. is culturally diverse and there are a lot of kids of mixed descent, you can still easily find yourself in a room full of only white people.  Is that something the babe is starting to notice?
I suppose all I can do is help guide her as she starts to figure out her place in the world.  I truly hope both my kids realize how cool it is to come from such a rich background and that they'll be able to use that knowledge in positive ways as they become their own people.  

1 comment:

Kim Palmer said...

This is so interesting, Christine! I worry about the same thing. Actually, that's one reason I decided to stop highlighting my hair as soon as I had a daughter. Not sure it will help, but I figured I could at least set an example of loving my naturally darker hair :)
(Also Tina Fey talks about this in her book, as the mother of dark haired girls- she makes a point of changing "blond" to "yellow" so it doesn't sound special when she reads them books) :)