We posted the following quote from actress Jada Pinkett Smith on Facebook recently. This was her answer when asked why she had let her daughter shave her head.
When Jada Pinkett-Smith was asked why she let her daughter Willow shave her head, this is what she said: “The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be. More to come. Another day.”
This was posted this on our Facebook page because it is exactly the kind of message we support and love to share at SheHeroes. We expected a handful of you to like and possibly comment on it. What wasn’t expected, at least not by your truly was over 800 of you to like, over 160 of you to share it over 9,000 of you to see it and over 60 of you to comment on it.
Not just comment, but this post and quote from Jada Pinkett stirred up one the liveliest debates I had ever seen on our Facebook page. I poured through and kept up on the comment throughout the day. I commented as SheHeroes and even commented via my personal FB account.
This debate has been on my mind all day. It finally occurred to me why. The fact that we felt the need to debate a girls’ hair is a statement in it’s own right. Some of you applauded Jada for allowing Willow to shave her head and the reasoning behind it. Others came down on her saying Willow is too young to know better and that it’s easy for a mom to shrug off the potential for bullying when your family is both rich and famous.
But the bottom line is, that it’s hair. Shaving her head hurts nothing and no one. Her hair will change a million times throughout the course of her life. It is not permanent, it will always grow back.
When I was 12 I desperately wanted to dye my strawberry blond hair, black. My mom let me. Dying my hair such an extreme color may not be exactly the same as shaving it off, but it was still pretty crazy. It took two years to completely grow out. But during that time the change in how people treated me and judged me was huge. And it wasn’t nice.
When you are 12 and decide to step out on that ledge of what’s socially acceptable for a girl, it can be lonely. But something happens to a girl on that ledge. What happens is, she doesn’t fall off.
After stepping out on that ledge I suddenly felt fearless and tough and strong. I was the kind of girl who was not afraid to be different. I was the kind of girl who did not base my identity or self worth on my hair. I was the kind of girl who could dance on that ledge, and not fall off.
Even today as a grown woman traveling the backside of my thirties with two kids of my own, inside that wild child with the black hair is still there. Strong, free, and ready to challenge anyone who dares to box her in.
It’s a feeling of empowerment and freedom I wish every girl could experience. A feeling I hope my daughter is able to someday experience. Imagine, all that over something as stupid as hair. And that is all it is, hair.
So after thinking on this story of Jada and Willow Smith, from the point of view of a woman, a 12 year old girl and most importantly as a mother of a young girl, I have decided the question should not be “Why would you let your daughter shave her head, but why wouldn’t you?”
“I just don’t believe it’s fair to judge a girl by the length of her hair” From the 1970s song “Hair” by Larry Graham