Kelly Rowland: “I Should’ve Popped My Mama’s Hand When She Put A Perm In My Hair At 5 Year’s Old”
Nearly every Black girl has a “my first perm” story and, just like us, Kelly Rowland wishes hers went a bit differently. We recently chatted with the singer about her new campaign with Dove, #MyHairMyCrown, and in addition to telling us about the significance of the song that she wrote for the initiative, we also talked to her about her own hair story which, again like most of ours, has had many twists and turns.
From getting her first perm at five year’s old to being inspired by Mama Tina to chop her hair during her Destiny’s Child days, to cutting her hair short again for her wedding, and then experience a growth spurt and subsequent hair loss during and after pregnancy, Kelly’s hair has been through it all. Check out our Q&A with the 38-year-old as she talks about embracing the many changes her hair has gone through and instilling confidence in her son to love his texture and various hairstyles.
MN: Do you think Black celebrities have a responsibility to showcase natural hair more?
KR: I do think that you do have a responsibility to be your most authentic self because when you do and other people see that in you, they want to do it too. And you don’t want them to be like you, you want them to be like them and they’re inspired by you doing that. I think sometimes that gets lost and people just want to look like somebody and now people are understanding, let me do me. I can’t look like that person, that’s going to turn out all bad.
MN: Is it weird for you when websites (like ours) make stories out of you showing your natural hair?
KR: Yes! (laughs) It’s a thing. I was in Maldives over the holidays and I posted a picture and I felt free, but you saw it. I felt so good, the wind’s blowing on my scalp. I felt amazing and you saw that and people wanted a piece of that, like that’s really dope. And [my hair’s] still growing so I decide to wear extensions one day, the next day I don’t. I color my hair next week and the next I don’t. I feel like you’re able to have this freedom with hair now that is so fun. That’s why the song “Crown” is so fun because it allows you to feel like that.
MN: A lot of women worry about how their partners will receive their hair when they switch it up. Was that ever an issue with your husband, Tim?
KR: He wishes my hair was short. I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my son and I got married, for him I did my hair short. I cut it short, then my hair started to grow super fast during my pregnancy and I was like, look dude, I just feel really happy right now and I might just add some extra in here and he said, ‘fine, you’re carrying my son. Do what you want.’ I feel like it doesn’t matter. Guys know it’s in there or it’s not.
MN: A lot of women lose their hair due to hormonal changes after giving birth, what was your experience?
I struggled with that. I struggled with that a great deal. Everything changed. My hair definitely changed, my skin changed. You know what I did? I got a cute little banged wig and it was just as cute as what was going on underneath that wig. It was fine. In that time, after I had my son, I was literally trying to create an easy situation for myself so I braided my hair up and I just rocked my little banged Super Bowl girl and I was cute. I woke up and I felt good and I let my hair grow back in but it was quite a process for sure.
MN: Have you started talking to your son about his self-image and embracing his hair?
KR: It is quite a battle with my son’s hair because he has so much of it, but he’s a good boy. He sits still and gets it done. My sisters seem to think that it creates discipline for them to be able to sit down and be still so I was like okay, let me just keep doing it. But the day that he says, I want to cut my hair — which he has, but then he’ll wake up the next day and say I want my braids — it’s his choice. But we talk about how cool his hair is.
On New Year’s he had this little Two Chainz look, we tied a scarf around his head and he walked in the room and he knew he was cute! You know what I mean? So it’s instilling confidence in them now for their hair and who they are and I think that’s really important.
I think that’s another thing, you have to allow kids to have this really easy experience because when they’re sitting down you want them to have fun. So you have to incorporate fun and creativity. Having fun starts the confidence young and you start to change the dialogue about their hair.
MN: What’s one thing you know about your hair now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
I should’ve popped my mama’s hand when she put a perm in my hair at five year’s old. I should’ve popped her hand! She was so busy popping mine when I was like, “ouch!” Really, I should’ve been like, “I don’t want that.” But I was so young and she was trying to create an easier situation and solution for herself which I understand because my hair was long and thick and it definitely changed after that.
I hear so many Black girls tell that story. Five is the age like, alright I tried everything that I could, but I think I probably would’ve said no I don’t want to do that and just asked her to braid my hair up and be able to go.