As Black women, many of us can remember that exact moment when we were painfully reminded that our hair was different.
Mine happened at the predominately white elementary school I attended in the late 80s. All of us students were working on an art project with colored pencils we had to swap out for news ones at our teacher’s desk. I was really feeling myself that day because I had gotten my hair pressed over the weekend.
It was laid, luxurious and smelling like fresh Pink Oil Lotion.
I remember sitting at my desk, tapping those smooth pencils on the side my head as I pondered how to create my masterpiece. When I was done, I returned my pencils, feeling confident that my design was amazing. But a few minutes later that all changed when I heard someone loudly ask, “Why are these pencils so greasy?”
My nemesis, who I will call Melissa, quickly told the class, “That’s because Kellee put them in her hair.”
The room erupted in laughter.
I was devastated. Having that straight hair made me feel like I had finally fit in with the Colleens and Beckies of the fourth grade. And yet in that instant, their cruelty had my facade crashing all the way down.
It’s funny, because it’s been over a decade since the last time I’d even thought about that horrible day. But when I first heard Kelly Rowland’s recent song “Crown,” I was instantly brought back to that time.
See, this collaboration with Dove is an empowering anthem aimed at young girls, reminding them that their hair is wonderful, glorious and amazing as is. And the video includes young girls from around the country who have been punished and even suspended for how they chose to rock their tresses.
Seeing “Crown’s” images and hearing its lyrics made me wish I had something like this when I was younger, a singer to tell that ashamed little Black girl that her hair was “beautiful in every color. Long, short, straight or curly.”
Now if I, a grown woman at 40-years-old, can be inspired by this, I can only imagine the impact it’s having on girls and young women who are coming into their own living in a world of the pressures of Instagram and Snapchat.
This is why what Kelly is doing is so important.
She is using her God-given gift to do her part to help shape the way girls see themselves and the world around them. And for little Black girls (and women), these messages are especially needed, given the complicated relationship we have with our hair and how often our bodies and hair are overpoliced at school, the workplace and beyond.
In addition to the song, Kelly’s taking the message to the streets with community events aimed at bolstering girls’s self-esteem. Last month in downtown Los Angeles, Kelly co-hosted a Dove Self-Esteem Workshop with more than 30 girls from the Boys and Girls Club in attendance.
The special workshop, which took place on Feb. 19, offered numerous confidence tips, an interactive conversation and ended with a runway show with the girls showing off the paper crowns they decorated.
HelloBeautiful recently caught up with Kelly to discuss her personal story behind “Crown,” why representation matters and tips on overcoming our own hair issues.