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FEATURES Jan 7 2013 8:20PM
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Skya and her head full of beautiful locs.

Encouraging My Little Sister to Go Natural

By Cassidy Blackwell, Natural Selection Blog

I don’t think that I’m alone when I say that until the ripe age of 12 or 13, my mom was the one calling the shots on my hair care.  For you it may have been your grandmother, auntie, older sister or cousin, but for many of us we were not the ones responsible for making decisions about our hair.  For me, this resulted in a perm around the age of five and a variety of other braided and barrette-laden styles.  Sure I may have gotten to choose the colors of my accessories, but I was otherwise very removed from the conversation surrounding the hair on my very own head. 

This trend of kid-free hair talk was recently broken in my family with my younger sister Skya.  Let me start by explaining that I am 17 years older than my sister and often our relationship is more like that of an Aunt/Niece than sisters.  Either way, around the time when I started hair blogging my natural hair journey, my mom was beginning to have that ‘what do I do with her hair’ itch.  Like any good naturalista, I swooped in, encouraging my mom to let Skya wear her hair natural.  I made a special summer trip home to Minnesota to assist with the process: removing the braids, deep conditioning her curls, and styling her in a wash’n’go.  For a while, things were good and it seemed like Skya was happy with her new style.  That is, until winter started to creep in and the subzero temperatures and dry air made the style seem less realistic.  As a result, Skya’s hair became less manageable than in the summertime and as a tenderheaded 7-year old girl the detangling and styling processes fell to the wayside. 

Skya arrived to visit me in San Francisco for Thanksgiving.  After an initial assessment, I realized that the situation had become pretty grim.  Her coils were dry and matted because she had refused to sit for any styling.  I knew that her options were pretty minimal and basically involved going for a big chop.  But what 2nd grader wants to clip her hair down to less than an inch?  Certainly not my little sister and I didn’t want her to have to endure any teasing or taunting. 

When I explained the situation to her, she began to tear up at the thought of cutting her hair.  “But aren’t there any other options?  What about locs??” she pleaded.
Locs.  I hadn’t thought about that idea. 

I immediately thought of our Nana and our Aunt, both of whom wear locs.  Surely Skya had noticed their minimal hair care regimen compared to the one necessary for her wash’n’go. 

“Cass, I really want locs,” Skya insisted.  And it was her suggestion that ultimately became her reality.  Two years later, Skya is still happily wearing locs.

I share this story because my sister’s self-advocating proved to be the only way we were able to find a natural hair style that not only suited her lifestyle, but made her happy.  Kids are extremely observant and definitely know a thing or two about their own wants and needs.  If you have kids (or little sisters, cousins, nieces or a special girl in your life), try to engage them in conversation about their hair care and styling, rather than imposing your own ideas upon them.  This way, they’ll learn not just to love their hair, but also grow to care for it on their own as well!

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