To My Beautiful Afro-haired Babies

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Hello, my beautiful babies. As many times as I call you beautiful, you must know that it is true. And when you grow up, there may be those who aren't as kind with their descriptions of you. Just know that their opinion matters none, and you are the epitome of all things beautiful. As I write these words to you, I sincerely hope that when you're old enough to read this, it will have eluded you altogether. I hope that this subject won't be a cause of strife when you get to school.

You are natural beauties with your perfect, tight curls and your smooth, brown skin. To you, it may seem that brushing your mane takes too long, or may cause you slight discomfort. But I promise, it is only because your hair was created with extra special attention to detail, and there is a lot to work with! And sometimes, a simple wash and go is what we want. No need for ponytails and hairbows and such. We will let your hair fly as free as it can, absorbing the goodness of the world around you. Your hair is not an animal in the circus; there is no need to tame it. You will wear it however you want.

Hair does not make you. Hair does not define who you are, my beautiful babies. You define you. And I am certain that both of you will take this world and make it yours and leave the less important stuff to someone else. When they make comments about your dark skin and your curly hair, don't be rude in your response. Find your way to let them know this is you, and you are here to stay.

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Photo Credit: Sophie Nathan

My hope is that you will live your life in accord with others. You will recognize your beauty and the beauty of your friends. You will appreciate that you don't all look alike, or dress alike, or have the same hair. Your diversity is a truly positive thing, and you will embrace your differences. My hope is that while you will understand that there is no harm in emulating your friends, you will strive to stay authentic in your own self.

I want you to know these things, because while you grow up there will be several hints and suggestions thrown at you trying to convince you to change who you are. They will tell you that you are not perfect. They will tell you that your hair needs straightening. They will tell you that longer is better. They will strongly suggest that lighter is better. They will flood your senses with other definitions of beauty to make your version seem less. And I want you to use all your grace, and reject their opinions. I don't want you to follow my lead and bend to societal norms of hair. Don't do what I did and allow others to define your personal beauty for you. You take who you are and you boldly announce to everyone who cares to listen that this is how you shall remain: as yourself and no one else.

I want you to love your hair as it is. I want you to rock that afro like a crown atop that velvety brown face. And while I want you to love it, I want you to love all of you. Don't place a premium on hair; we should all be reminded of its true nature as a protectorate. I want you to free yourself of man-created value, and instead concentrate on the divine power of the human body. Free yourself of thoughts of inferiority. Be free of the notion that the way you came to this earth is less than the way someone else did. And when you're free of self-damaging thoughts and actions, you can truly be you.

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Balliet
And that will be perfect. Because you are perfect in every way.

All my love, my beautiful afro-haired babies.