Jada Pinkett-Smith has declared that her daughter Willow Smith is “not her hair.” In an open letter penned to fans via Facebook, the star addressed the growing public sentiment that enough is enough regarding Willow’s hair. Not surprisingly, most of the criticism comes from the Black community. In her letter, Jada challenges the term “LET” (as in, “why did you let your daughter cut her hair that way?”) and how she will not subject Willow to the restrictions on self that plague young girls today. Here is a snippet of the letter:
“The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair.”
While many parents in the Black community have posted their own views countering what Jada has offered as self-expression of her daughter, some do agree that it’s just hair–it will grow back. In a world where Black women are often the target of hurtful criticisms regarding their hair, one might think there would be a sense of empathy for the young star’s freedom of identity through her hairstyle choices. Instead, once again, it’s Black women who have spoken out the loudest and most negatively about how Willow has chosen to wear her hair for the moment.
“What if she wants tattoos…body piercings…to experiment with drugs and/or sex?” Some parents have openly wondered how far the actress is willing to allow her daughter push the bounds of self-expression. To that end, others have offered a less ominous retort–it’s just hair. Sure, Willow’s outfits and style are unconventional to say the least, but if Jada’s letter is any indication of the direction she’s trying to go with her parenting style, then Willow will grow into a woman who knows herself, her style and, most importantly, her boundaries. Many women can’t say that they had the freedom to learn the essence of who they were until well after they left their parent’s care. If Mrs. Pinkett-Smith’s parenting style produces a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the trappings of success–drugs, crazy parties, wild relationships, etc–would all be avoided because there would be less of a need to “find oneself” through those experiences?
As long as Willow continues to push the boundaries of style and radically change her hair, the debate will rage on. But, to echo the sentiment that Jada has offered–it’s just hair!