If you suddenly feel like it’s 2014 again after reading that headline, I’m not surprised. The exact same texture-shaming conversations people were having about Blue Ivy when she was 2 years old are now being had about Gabrielle Union’s daughter Kaavia who hasn’t even seen her second birthday yet.
In an interview with People magazine, Gabrielle Union talked about how she and Dwyane Wade work to affirm their kids’ beauty as Black children, especially 20-month-old daughter Kaavia and 13-year-old stepdaughter Zaya. “It is always pride and live your best life and live your best Black life. And let your curls do what they do,” she said.
In the social media-driven world we live in that’s a conversation that will have to be reiterated over and over again. And, sadly, the very anti-Black sentiments Union is attempting to shield her children from are already being thrown at her youngest.
“I’ll see comments and people are like, ‘Why is her hair never done?’ And I’m like, ‘She is a year and a half.’ “I don’t want to give her a complex about what is an acceptable style.”
Just earlier this month, a conversation spread across Twitter and Instagram about biracial child fetishisation and how that complex showed up in the contrast between how North West and her curls were embraced by the masses while a mean-spirited petition was launched on Change.Org to encourage Beyoncé to comb Blue Ivy’s hair. Both girls’ hair was simply out and free, but because of North West’s looser curl pattern and finer texture, her look, to use Union’s words, was deemed “an acceptable style.” It’s that same conditioning that has led to questions as to why Kaavia’s hair isn’t “done,” which, years after the Blue Ivy debacle and the shaming Gabby Douglas was subjected to, is disappointing to say the least. We can’t push for the mainstream to accept the totality of Blackness and all its beauty if we’re still upholding such a limited view of what’s acceptable among ourselves.
Ignoring the disparaging remarks that pop up in her comments section, Union said she lets her daughters decide what they want to do with their hair, not society.
“Some days Kav will hand you her brush and she’ll want a little afro puff. And some days she just wants to wake up and go. And Zaya went from pink hair to blonde. If you want to switch it up every day, great. What you do with your hair is your own personal choice. For me, the focus is on healthy hair, not on what you do with it.”
With the revival of her haircare line Flawless coming next month, her girls will obviously have the tools to take care of their hair and style it however they choose. And for Union that means embracing the Blackness that shapes who they are internally and externally.
“Your hair is a part of you and it’s an extension of you, but it has to start with self-love and pride in your Blackness and Afrocentric features, whether that be your hair, your nose, your lips or your body.”