Gabrielle Union is speaking out again about self-love. Specifically, teaching her daughter Kaavia, 20 months, and step-daughter Zaya, 13, about loving themselves and by extension having pride in everything “afrocentric” about their hair and features.
This is not surprising as Union has been vocal about the struggles that black actresses experience due to lack of black hairstylists and makeup artists on set. She also recently opened up about her struggle with hairloss after IVF treatments.
Promoting her haircare brand, Flawless by Gabrielle Union, Union says she wants her daughters to be focused more on healthy hair and hair as self-expression versus how hair SHOULD look. She states that growing up as the only black girl in her school, she felt othered because no one had hair like hers. This led her on a years-long journey to hair acceptance.
“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,” Union says.
Union adds that she and husband Dwyane Wade “are constantly reaffirming our kids, especially now, when there are so many external forces that are anti-Black. It is always pride and live your best life and live your best Black life. And let your curls do what they do.”
Union’s also brushing off the haters on social media who make disparaging remarks about her toddler’s hair.
“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.”
Union is determined to let Kaavia and Zaya be the decision-makers when it comes to their hair.
“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,” Union says. “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.”
Her hope: that “more folks are going to lean into really celebrating how we are, naturally, because it’s all dope and amazing and beautiful and there’s no one right way or wrong way to exist.”
It comes as no surprise that Gabrielle is taking this tack in raising her daughters. I believe that encouraging young girls to love their natural selves makes them formidable voices in the world. When the focus becomes more about inner strength and self-love it translates into outer beauty and pride.
As far as mom-shaming women for not “combing” their black daughters’ hair, let it be. Children rough house and play, which makes doing their hair every day a fruitless and tedious task that both mother and daughter will grow to hate. Teaching them to love their hair no matter what removes the need for perfection and is indeed the very definition of “hair love.”