Four moms share the love for their natural hair and how they are passing on that deep appreciation to their children.
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One thing that 16-year-old Chloe appreciates most about her natural strands is that her curls are not damaged. “[My mom] has never done a perm or anything, so I appreciate my hair a lot,” she says. Sabine Toussaint, 47, of Jackson Heights, New York, says she let Chloe, who is a dancer, start doing her own hair when she was 10. “The first thing I did was try to heat-straighten it, and then it started breaking, so I was like, never mind,” Chloe says. Thankfully, her mother, whose family hails from Haiti, isn’t a stranger to styling options. When Toussaint was young, her mom, a nurse, didn’t believe in using any chemicals on the head. However, Toussaint did get a weekly press and eventually a relaxer that left her with scalp burns. That was her turning point and she decided to go natural. Since then, the CEO of Caribbean Entrepreneur and Innovation Lab’s mission has been to encourage her daughter to take care of her curls and not to take her hair too seriously: “Do what you want with it—chop it off, let it grow, however you feel.”
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Six-year-old Cameron doesn’t like sitting for a long time while getting her hair braided (with extensions). But when it’s done, she adores her look and all the compliments that come with it. “Right now we love cornrows,” her mother, 37-year-old Nia Lawrence, says. “It’s a great protective style that lasts for weeks. Cam’s hair is very delicate and breaks easily, so I try to avoid daily styling as much as I can.” Lawrence, founder of the Web site Mocha Mommy in the City, has been perm-free her entire life. For the past 15 years, she’s worn dreadlocks. “They are so versatile and low-maintenance,” she explains. “I’ve freed up so much time and money by learning how to care for my own hair. I like to be able to get up and go.” Lawrence says when she was growing up in Chicago, her parents—whom she describes as hippies—encouraged her to love her mane’s texture, and now she’s doing the same with Cameron by exposing her to hairstyles that match hers. “There’s very little representation for little girls with 4C Afros, so we scroll the Instagram pages of women like Lupita Nyong’o and Janelle Monáe,” says Lawrence. “I also point out beautiful styles that we pass daily on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. There’s so much inspiration. We always make it a point to tell women when we love their hair.”
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LaTonya Yvette of Brooklyn says her children, 7-year-old daughter River and 4-year-old son Oak, love her natural hair. “We are a family of curls—their dad also has curls. I think they feel connected to my hair and their hair more because mine is wild and crazy, too.” While her children, who are half Black and White, have always been natural, Yvette, 28, says it wasn’t until she gave birth to River that she decided to give up perming her locks. “I got my first relaxer when I was 11, after I begged my mom endlessly for it,” she says. “Looking back, I [realize I] didn’t need it.” Now Yvette, a fashion stylist and creator of the lifestyle blog latonyayvette.com, describes her natural tresses as “an extension of who I am.” She and her kids wash and style their curls together as a family. At one point, “I noticed Oak was getting frustrated when I did River’s hair in the morning, so I started including him,” she says. “He puts cream in her hair, and I comb. Then she puts cream in his.”
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Eight-year-old Samarah compares her natural curls to fireworks, because when she jumps around “it’s like pew!—everywhere,” she exclaims. She says her mother, 31-year-old Lakesha Charles, gives her great hairstyling tips. Charles, a freelance makeup artist, made the decision to go natural after finding out she was pregnant with a girl. “I always knew I was never gonna relax my daughter’s hair,” she says. “I felt like I couldn’t teach her to properly love herself as she is if I wasn’t doing the same thing.” After Samarah turned 1, Charles did the Big Chop one day in the bathroom. While the mom-and-daughter duo’s love for chemical-free locks is consistent now, there was a point when the family lived in Arizona that 3-year-old Samarah came home from day care upset about her curls. “[Samarah] was crying and pulling her hair straight. She was bawling her eyes out, because when she let it go, it would spring back up,” says Charles. “She was so sad and asked, ‘Why isn’t my hair straight?’ ” Charles says Samarah wanted straight tresses because no one else in class looked like her. Charles did everything she could to empower her daughter, and Samarah’s outlook started to change positively. Since they moved to New York City, Samarah doesn’t have those issues, says Charles: “She’s like, ‘Mom, I don’t want a ponytail. I want it just like yours.’ That’s what she tells me every day now.”
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