I’ll just come right out and say it:
I think there is something terribly wrong with any product designed to chemically alter a child’s natural hair texture.
It’s not even about bone-straight relaxing anymore, either. With the development of their Texture Softener, companies like Soft & Beautiful (Just For Me) are unashamed in their mission to further perpetuate the notion that “curly” hair is better, and encourage a new generation of little girls and young mothers to covet a hair texture other than their own.
According to their website www.texturesoftener.com, the Texture Softener “is for hard-to manage hair. It mildly loosens curls and kinks that cause hair to tangle and break during combing.” Additionally, it promises to allow your little girl to enjoy “long hair that grows without the breakage from combing” and an easier time achieving fun styles.
I didn’t know you needed loose, curly hair to enjoy fun styles — but I digress.
The Just For Me Texture Softener walks like a relaxer, talks like a relaxer, and pretty much is a relaxer. Within their FAQ Section, they lay it out pretty plainly; the Texture Softener is a permanent process and must grow out of the hair like a regular relaxer. Companies like Just For Me are doggedly determined to recoup their losses in relaxed hair sales, and are trying to find new ways to capitalize off of the popularity of natural hair. Their peddaling of a kiddie texlax kit is both egregious and harmful to the psyche of our little girls.
Ironically enough, under their section for moms, they claim to be fighting against the media-induced war on self-esteem:
Ethnic and multi-ethnic children, especially little girls, realize the values that society places on outer appearances, especially what may make them different, much sooner than you might think. Little girls form their self-image early and are impacted by messages and other influences in their environment. By the time your daughter begins to interact socially with friends or family members or take in the many messages in the media, she will have some idea about her image and how others may view her. In order to ensure your daughter has a healthy self-concept, it is important to begin talking to her about her identity as soon as possible so that you can instill in her a strong self-esteem and a healthy self-image. It is just as important to de-emphasize the importance of outer beauty and communicate to her that her beauty begins on the inside. Because we believe this is crucial for little girls, Just for Me™ Texture Softener™ tapped nationally renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere to offer ways to start the dialogue with your child.
Yes, by all means, let’s start that dialogue on a healthy self-concept by telling girls that there is something wrong with their hair, that it can’t be managed, and will only grow long and be fun to style if it is loose and curly.
I wish the foolery stopped there, but it doesn’t. About three paragraphs down, it continues:
Proactively talk about loving your daughter’s hair. Your daughter’s hair is unmistakably linked to her self-image and self-esteem. If she feels her hair is a problem, she will also think there is a problem with her image. If she believes her hair is beautiful, she will believe that she is beautiful. Your little girl will take her cues from you, her mother. Be careful not to inadvertently pass along negative feelings through the frustrations of everyday grooming.
Let’s stop there. If your daughter feels her hair is a problem, she will also think there is a problem with her image. So let’s ratify the notion that she thinks her hair is a problem by slapping a relaxer on it, and teach her to accept an edited version of herself. Because that makes way more sense than having a conversation with your daughter about her hair, and teaching her to love herself and find value in herself as-is.
I really wish I was making this stuff up, or that this was one of those well-played satirical “news” stories that people pass along on Facebook as being true. But it’s not.
Muddled in all of their marketing jargon disguised as helpful tips for mom, we get to the real root issue: companies like Just For Me really think that natural hair is a problem that needs to be managed. And if I can be really real, they (along with a host of other companies) think that the further you move away from a kinky or coily aesthetic, the better off you are.
This goes far beyond texture discrimination, into a realm of corporate agendas to propogate self-hatred amongst Black women to keep their coffers lined. And now, a meme to further illustrate my point:
For many of us, our journey to natural hair began as adults after years of abuse from relaxers, hot combs, and flat irons. We endured these treatments from a young age — since we were old enough to know when to hold our ears down to keep them from being burned. In fact, during the 90’s, Just For Me had one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns ever seen for relaxed hair — especially for little girls. To this day, many of us can still sing the song from the commercials (myself included). While those jazzy little girls (one of whom is former Destiny’s Child member LaTavia Roberson) danced and sang about hair that was so soft, silky, and free, it was abundantly clear that Just For Me and parent company Soft n’ Beautiful had no investment in the idea of natural hair from the outset.
But a little more than 20 years later, they’ve changed their tune. A visit to the Just For Me website yields a plethora of natural hair care products for children, from five-finger-test shampoos to curl smoothers and edge cremes. In fact, to find the Just For Me children’s relaxer, you have to visit Sally’s, Target, Amazon, or other retailers directly.
Although their Texture Softener and natural hair product line is nothing new, it remains a far cry from cassette tape jingles about silky, flowing, relaxed hair. Just For Me is trying to show up to the natural hair party — way too late, and with the wrong message.
In 2014, the natural hair movement presents a unique opportunity to turn the tide with our little girls. With our big chops and transitions, we inspire future generations to step away from conforming to eurocentric standards of beauty and accept their natural hair as-is.
The natural hair movement threatens to shatter (and has already begun to do so, honestly) a multi-billion dollar industry predicated on a lack of self-acceptance among Black women. And while there will always be a certain segment of the population that maintains they maintain(ed) straight hair for convenience, The undercurrent of the movement will always be focused on no longer accepting any less than our natural selves as beautiful. Product like Texture Softener just make it that much more important to take ownership in teaching our little girls and boys to value and see the beauty in natural hair as-is.
At the end of the day, companies like Just For Me continue to propogate the message Black hair, and by extension Blackness in all our shades, textures, and tones are not welcome within an already limited scope of “acceptable” beauty. This thinly veiled anti-natural agenda is haphazardly wrapped in a “solution” that preys on the ignorance of moms who are unsure of how to handle their little girl’s hair.
Trust me: just put some conditioner on it. She’ll be fine.
Weigh in, BGLH readers! I want to know what you all think about this Texture Softener business!