“I Can’t Cornrow” And Other Confessions Of A Black Mom Doing Black Girl Hair

December 27, 2012  |  

Like many little black girls in the 90s, my mom would braid my hair into box braids about every two months or so, effectively cutting down the amount of time she had to spend tending to my hair. It kept me and my sisters looking presentable and she would get a reprieve from the shrieking and crying we’d do as three “tender-headed” children.

Hair just wasn’t a big deal to my mother and as a result, it’s not that big a deal to me.

But now that I have a daughter myself, there’s incredible pressure to make sure my girl looks not just presentable, but impressive. I was used to seeing pigtails on little girls, a couple French braids here and there if you want to get fancy. But nowadays when I go out with my daughter I see little girls with elaborate updos, tiny two-strand twists, and cornrows making shapes, words and more.

There are a slew of blogs—from Beads, Braids and Beyond to Untrained Hair Mom to Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care—giving advice on how to care for black girl’s hair and I read them all. I love how much knowledge they have to share and I’m glad these resources are out here. But I’ve got a few confessions to make:

  1. I don’t know how to cornrow. I can do some mean two-strand twists, though.
  2. I don’t have the time nor the money to try out every new product with the “hot” ingredient of the moment (whoever is pushing this “argan oil” agenda is really raking in the dough).
  3. I don’t have the desire to make my daughter’s hair look “fancy.” It is what it is. As long as it’s healthy, I’m good.
  4. The detangling process makes me want to scream. My daughter’s thick, curly hair is beautiful, but it will tangle up on you if you even look at it wrong.
  5. I feel like the only one who isn’t concerned with battling frizz. My daughter’s hair will never be “sleek” unless we chemically straighten it. There will always be stray curly hairs that won’t be “tamed.” I’m cool with that.

Overall, I love my daughter’s hair. It’s strong and beautiful and responds well to my low-maintenance hair care routine. I could do more and “baby” it into growing longer, but her head full of hair is already bordering on Troy Polamalu status.

I’m a black mom who doesn’t care that much about hair. Am I alone?  

Words: Tara Pringle Jefferson

Tara Pringle Jefferson is the founder of TheYoungMommyLife.com and the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave. Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog for her insights on what it means to be a mom, wife, student, writer, and about three other labels she’s too tired to remember.

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  • I heard that a lot. I liked my daughter’s natural hair just fine, until she got to about 15 months. It started to change, and look dry and wild.

  • I have to agree here. I really don’t do much with my daughter’s hair, but it’s mainly because she’s about 3 months from 2, and her hair is transitioning, meaning she has baby ends and toddler roots. Her braids frizz and curl on the end, making it hard for me to keep beads or barrettes on the ends. She pulls them off anyway. Once she got a chunk out, and I quit with the fancy stuff. Her hair is still curly and this makes her ponytails small and braiding them makes them stand up. I don’t use many different products because she still uses no-more-tears shampoo. That’s not suitable for rinsing out chemicals and will leave a residue. I think it’s because my SON was born with long, flowing tresses that he wore braided until the end of elementary school. And then, here comes the girl. She has a ways to go…

  • Charity Johnson

    same here. & I loved doing that because it was quick and easy, but still super cute.

  • Guest

    Same with me. I loved putting a headband around my daughter’shairbecause

  • Tara

    When she was a baby, she had a halo of soft curls that I absolutely adored. I would put a cute headband on her and bounce. But some relatives insisted that her hair was not “done” and would offer to do it for me. I’m like, “Her hair IS done. She’s six months old!” The pressure is REAL

  • I don’t know where you live, but that certainly isn’t the case in my part of town. My nieces and their little friends all wear cornrows and there isn’t a ghetto in sight. #Africans.
    Also, as long as your children look neat, what difference does it make what style it’s in? The worse is when you see mothers leave the house dressed and done up to the nines and their children look like orphans.

  • fool of a tooke!

    Cornrows are wack anyway. The only purpose for cornrows in 2013 and beyond is when these women get a weave. Other than that, I only see little ghetto children with cornrows.

  • Charity Johnson

    I’m on your side. I love doing simple and quick hairstyles for my daughter. All that elaborate time consuming stuff >> “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” But I always feel like everyone puts enormous pressure on me to do high class hairstyles to her hair, all the time.