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Brazilian Hospital Recommends Straightening Toddlers’ Hair to Make it “More Beautiful”

Avatar • Dec 10, 2013

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First we must note that this story is not new, the advocacy blog Black Women of Brazil broke it back in September, but we wanted to share it because it’s so shocking. Last year the Brazilian hospital, Santa Joana, posted an article on its Facebook page recommending that mothers straighten their toddlers’ hair to make it “more beautiful”. According to the hospital the article was intended as an alternative to formaldehyde-based Brazilian blowouts, which are a popular treatment for Brazilian children. Black Women of Brazil reports;

A post directed at moms who want to straighten the hair of their small children “to make the children more beautiful”, as an alternative to those “born with cabelos crespos (kinky/curly hair)” or hair that is “unmanageable”, caused outrage on Facebook, on Thursday (24) among netizens (web searchers) who considered the publication racist and prejudiced.

The text, entitled “Minha filha tem o cabelo muito crespo. A partir de qual idade posso alisá-lo? (My daughter has very kinky/curly hair. At what age can I straighten it?)”, was published on the Nov. 16 blog of Hospital e Maternidade Santa Joana (Santa Joana Hospital and Maternity), with three paragraphs at the top of which appears the photo of a black child with cabelos crespos (curly/kinky) hair.

After outrage from Facebook users, the hospital apologized and took the post down. You can read the whole story here. It’s hard to say what’s more shocking; the fact that toddlers are being given Brazilian blowouts, or that a hospital would recommend hair straightening for kids.

Ladies, what are your thoughts?

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Courtney
Guest

After outrage from Facebook users, the hospital apologized and took the post down. “ I’m happy to see this type of behavior isn’t tolerated by the natural ( and other) communities. If we don’t tolerate this mindset it puts us steps closer to dissolving it.

Valerija
Guest

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lulu
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lulu

According to the hospital the article was intended as an alternative to formaldehyde-based Brazilian blowouts, which are a popular treatment for Brazilian children”

wait, wait WAIT A SECOND…WHAT?!!!! Please tell me this is not true…just WOW!

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

I know I had to reread it myself.

MsKat
Guest
MsKat

Interesting to know that Americans aren’t the only lazy ones when it comes to kids’ hair. What ever happened to just learning your kid’s hair and actually dealing with it until they get old enough for you to safely do anything to it, if it still needs it by then? Kids’ hair really isn’t that difficult, with few exceptions, and if you actually take time to learn a routine for their hair it gets even easier. I was a cosmetologist for years, and even then I only had one client that could be classified with unruly hair. Adults are already… Read more »

dmalikat
Guest

At first glance, I’m on the band wagon of being outraged. But what are WE outraged about: Brazilian society. Whereby mothers of daughters with kinky hair feel that straight hair is the only perspective of beauty and ARE currently using DANGEROUS chemicals on their children during critical formative years Or The hospital. It’s attempt was to REDUCE the number of parents who are putting DANGEROUS chemicals on thier own child’s scalps to achieve that society’s level of beauty — by offering parents alternatives to straightening the hair. I’m in support of reducing the number of children who will have exposure… Read more »

Laura Truesdale
Guest

I agree…ok we know the problem…and my concern is the solution. There is ample info & numerous products that adhere to the “adult” natural hair community but as far as our little ones who will inherent the same hair we have…there isn’t a lot sources…unless I’m missing something

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

There is a white lady that has a black daughter that has a great website and her daughter is natural. She can braid like no other and she has some great tips. Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care. I really like that site.

LBell
Guest
LBell

Having read the BWoB post, I believe the problem lies with the phrasing used by the hospital employee who responded to the mother’s question: namely, the association of straight(ened) hair with beauty. The hospital did the responsible thing by removing the post and apologizing. The fact that they even did that is a testament to how far black empowerment has come in Brazil, a country that has more black people than any other country outside of those on the continent of Africa. That black empowerment thing though…you know that saying “It takes a long time to turn a big ship”?… Read more »

ManeOrigins
Guest

I agree with you on the fact that the hospital may have been trying to promote a potentially safer alternative but did not have the right deliverance.

smile
Guest
smile

TThe solution is a parents workshop.It will teach parents ways to deal with their kids hair ;and find routines and styles they can successfully carry out.

Kellz
Guest
Kellz

Disgusting!! On a more positive note…What a beautiful baby!!

Tisha
Guest
Tisha

it is absolutely ridiculous that this hospital is forgetting its role as a promoter of HEALTH to suggest such a dangerous practice. Did they specify an age at least? or can this be done on newborns…better yet, do they provide the service right IN the hospital, you know, right after they cut the umbilical cord?!!!..This goes to show how brainwashed people are. Kinky hair= bad hair and they need to get rid of it at any cost. These kinds of articles make me even more thankful for the natural hair movement!!

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

Well reading it, it didn’t quite state what age etc. You popped off too soon ( being a little over heated) I think that the person was going for giving them healthier alternatives to the Brazilian Blow out, and unfortunately the way they wrote it was just wrong, but what I could read it didn’t seem like they were meaning straighten her hair so it looks beautiful. using beautiful so close to the phrase to straighten her hair, should not have been put so closely together. I’m glad that they took it down and apologized. No matter where you go… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Digusting, absolutely disgusting. But we must keep pushing forward and letting people know that we will not ‘conform’ to their beauty standards. I am so tired of hearing these stories and people picking on our babies and children about their hair!

Laura Truesdale
Guest

What would you recommend for older babies/toddlers with “cabelos crespos” hair? I know there is info out there for our mini kinky hair offspring but not enough. My son has a twa that’s growing out of control month by month…now he’s almost a year old. I don’t want to cut it of course…I would like to incorporate a curly hair routine for him as well.

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

My sister-in-law used water and light conditioner and she spritzed it on her daughters hair and it worked great. Carol’s Daughter has some hair stuff for children give it a gander see if there is anything that grabs yeah.

Marta Daniels
Guest

This is utterly ridiculous! Not to mention dangerous, and completely immoral! I was thoroughly disgusted when I read this.

Don't worry
Guest
Don't worry

Curly kinky hair is beautiful!!! She’s adorable, I wouldn’t change her if they paid me to! If you like straight hair thats fine, have straight hair but Don’t alter ones natural beauty. I wouldn’t want this little girl to feel any less of herself):
& to be honest if I had one wish that was 100% guaranteed to come true it would be that we all come together as one. no judging, no hate, no violence, no tears just happiness and acceptance. Sounds crazy huh? Ha I know… but it shouldn’t have to.

I'malearning
Guest
I'malearning

With the criticism of Blue Ivy’s, Solange, and Gabby Douglas hair African-American’s should be the last to criticize the Brazilian’s quest for caucasian standards of beauty.

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

I know my friend did security for Jay Z’s concert a couple of nights ago and Blue Ivy was there. She had the nerve to say (black woman) “Someone needs to do that child’s head”. I asked if it was all poofed out? She said “yeah”. So I said, “Ahh that’s when she looks the cutest”.

Elle
Guest
Elle

You’re equating the ignorant comments of SOME people towards a celebrity to represent that of an entire group? Excuse me, but I’m American and never criticized any of the above and have every dang right to step in and comment on anything negatively impacting my diaspora.

We need to all advocate for each other! Every group, every country, that is what makes a strong union. No one anywhere has all the answers, but when we see wrong we damn sure need to be loud and call foul instead of sitting back and holding our tongues.

sweetladykinks
Guest
sweetladykinks

As someone had already stated above,the hospital is actually trying to promote alternatives for the initial blow out. So eventhough it still is against natural hair, they are thinking about the toddlers health.
and something else: Brazil is not an overly black country. So no it doesn’t surprise me that they aren’t very natural kink minded…

SuZQ
Guest
SuZQ

Actually, Brazil has the highest concentration of people of African descent outside Africa- far greater than our own numbers in the US as well as a large indigenous population. However, the slave trade proliferated there as well and the beauty standards are being dictated by a minority group of people with more European features.

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

Every time I go into the Mercados I always get Latin people asking me what part of Brazil or Dominican Republic am I from? Technically I’m Spanish, Born in Madrid.

Elle
Guest
Elle

@sweetladykinks

What SuzQ wrote, please read up on it, it’s easily accessible, Google and all.….

ManeOrigins
Guest

My question is if you are outraged by this…Are you then outraged and and protesting the countless manufactures of “kiddie perms” that can be found in thousands of beauty supply stores here in the US that feature little brown girls with silky straight hair on the box?

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

Great point. A lot of young black girls in the states get perms too.

Tabatha
Guest
Tabatha

Well they said recommend they didn’t say that you had to do it. The mother was the one that asked the doctor ( I use that title loosely) I guess gave her better alternatives to a Brazilian blow out. I wouldn’t even use that on an adult, so I don’t know why its popular to put in a toddlers head. Well its just like our kiddy pageants here in the states. Giving them spray tans, French tips, hair pieces, flippers if their missing teeth and adding so much make up that they put Drag Queens to Shame. I mean watching… Read more »

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

I know this sounds crazy, but it’s because the American acceptance of kinky/coarse hair textures is better than many other countries. We’re not perfect, but I know a woman who is Nigerian and she put braided extensions on her one-year old’s head. I hate to tell someone what is right or wrong for their child, but seeing a baby (who had a lovely head of soft, kinky hair) with extensions made me cringe. It’s crazy that an institution such as a hospital would advocate that for infants. The fact that they blow out children’s hair is even crazier. However, what… Read more »

linda
Guest
linda

This article is really outrageous but I’m not really surprised. Brazil is a country well known for its plastic surgery and cult of the perfect look and body. What is sad about this story is that this article was posted by an hospital which is supposed to be the reference when it comes to what is healthy and safe and what is not. This hospital should instead educate mothers on how to care for their babies hair instead of finding better ways to alter it. I hope that the advocacy Black Women of Brazil will go further into their action… Read more »

youngin girl
Guest
youngin girl

Who are they to tell someone what to do with their child’s hair or anyone’s hair? It’s just hair. There’s no such thing as bad or good, managable or unmanagable, beautiful or ugly. It’s either healthy or it’s not. If you let a ignorant person from a hospital where people get treated tell you to straighten your daughter’s hair than there goes your mindset. If an ignorant person wants to post stuff like that on a public forum than why don’t they get a brazilian blowout? Post your photo on Facebook and lets see if we are making you out… Read more »

Kan
Guest
Kan

I’ve had about enough of Brazil and their constant attacks on African hair. Why do they think they have the right to tell folks how their hair should look? Since Blacks are the majority there, why are they letting the non-Black population set the standard and put them through all this ridiculousness? BE THE RESISTANCE! Just like here in the US, they need a civil rights movement. It’s not perfect here AT ALL and racism still runs rampant, but at least the majority of us don’t battle folks telling us what to do with our hair and face serious hair-related… Read more »

Dabney
Guest
Dabney

If anyone ins interested in why This is such a big issue in Brazil, please take the time to watch Henry Louis Gates Documentary series Blacks in Latin America. The Episode about Brazil, was EYE opening. He thoroughly went into this subject. I was not surprise, by this after watching that episode. Racial injustice is epic in Brazil. Please watch it!

http://video.pbs.org/video/1906000944/

Kiara
Guest
Kiara

I loooveee Louis Gates, and that documentary is so good! There is an episode on haiti and the domincan republic as well for those interested!

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