When I was growing up, I wanted black hair, like Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years. I wanted straight, black hair that glimmered in the sun. However, I had a head of dark blond, wavy locks. And there was no way my mother would let me dye my hair.
At the time, I couldn’t understand it. Wouldn’t she want a daughter with beautiful, dark, flowing hair? Now, as a mom of three girls myself, though, there is no way I would let them color their hair until they are older – much older.
As a child, I couldn’t understand adults’ fascination with that long, dark blond, wavy mane of mine. In the summer, strands of it would become blonder, leaving me with perfect natural highlights.
But what did I see? Frizzy brown hair that hurt when my mom would brush it. I didn’t appreciate what I had. I couldn’t; I was a kid. I thought dyeing my hair would somehow make me beautiful and “cool.”
My daughters are 10, 8 and 4 years old. And my husband and I are doing everything we can to instill confidence in our children. We praise their hard work. We encourage them to try difficult things. And we tell them they are beautiful. Allowing them to dye their hair at such a young age sends the message that maybe they aren’t perfect as they are. We don’t want them to get the idea that they’d somehow be “better” if their hair was a different color.
There’s certainly a societal component, too. While we probably don’t want to admit it, if a 16-year-old kid with hot pink hair shows up for a job interview, she’s going to be remembered for her hair – and not necessarily in a good way. If judgments are going to be made, I want my child to stand out for her personal strengths and accomplishments and not the color of her hair.
Each of my daughters has a different type of hair. It ranges from thick and straight to fine and wavy. All of it is healthy. Adding chemicals and color to hair can strip it of the natural texture and condition, and that’s something that can’t be replaced. If my daughters changed their minds and wanted to go back to their natural hair, the damage would have already been done.
Not to mention, my kids can barely decide what they want to do each day. Making a decision about destroying their hair as tweenagers is not something I feel they are prepared to do. There is plenty of time for them to have dry, stringy hair. There is plenty of time for them to have to worry about touching up roots and maintaining the artificial color. When they become adults and want to spend their time and money on upkeep, that is a decision they can make.
My mom protected my hair from harsh hair treatments as long as she could, but I still got gray hair early and have felt the need to cover it for years. There is nothing I wouldn’t give to go back to that hair I had as a kid – the hair my children have now.
Oakland County mom Jessica Schrader thinks it’s OK for kids to dye their hair. Read more about her viewpoint here.