By Alexzenia Davis
I curled up with a cup of hot chocolate to watch Lenon Honor’s new video. A husband and father of five, Lenon is one of the brave souls who takes to YouTube to share his advice and opinions on an array of topics. His area of focus for this “session” titled, Natural Hair and Natural Beauty—A Responsible Father’s Perspective, centered on his two daughters (ages 5 and 7) and their natural hair.
Over the course of the 7-minute clip, Lenon stressed the importance of instilling in his young daughters a sense of esteem, self-worth and value. He credits his wife—who sports her natural hair as well—for serving as a great example. However, he notes that it is vital for fathers to also provide additional security. “So many young girls have hair issues and as they become adults, they continue to have hair issues. But the question becomes, ‘Where do they get these hair issues from?’” Lenon’s words cross the screen for extra emphasis. “Why do they believe that their hair is not good enough?” His questions parade on: Why do they believe “…that their hair is not beautiful,” “…that it needs to be changed somehow in order to be accepted by society,” “…to be loved or desired by men?” Lenon proposes that in these instances, a strong self-image has not been established. “I want fathers to understand that it is your responsibility to be there in your daughter’s life so that she is clear that she is beautiful just as she is.”
I refilled my mug and took a moment to collect my thoughts on the swift, but saturated, lecture. I was once told that when listening to any type of critique, you often learn more about the reviewer than the item they are discussing. In analyzing the core message, Lenon seems to place a lot of value in self-confidence: his appreciation of his wife’s self-confidence; how a father’s presence impacts the confidence of his children; his affinity towards his daughters; and his desire to preserve their love for their natural beauty—particularly their hair.
I have often swayed between indifferent and highly opinionated when it comes to the natural hair debate. I have always been natural. Part of this was due to the fact that taming my coils via relaxer just wasn’t an option growing up. Yes, I was the tender-headed soul, locked in between my mother’s legs screaming for mercy as she combed through and styled my unruly mane every few weeks. So when my mother asked if I wanted to lock my hair, it was as though Jesus himself came to bless my strands with new beginnings. I have always been happy with my hair. I adore my locks and wouldn’t want to imagine myself without them. My locks were never intended to symbolize my self-worth. They were not birthed out of some life-changing decision; we more so grew together. But for those who may want to appreciate my layers of depth, self-awareness, or overall Baduism, having locks is pretty much a fringe benefit.
I was young when my hair-story began. However, I have countless friends whose journeys are significantly more conscientious. I’ve had a friend transition from her stylish natural afro-puff to extension braids and relaxers. Another friend recently made the bold transition to begin her locks after years of weave. I have seen many-a-friend go from relaxer to natural to relaxer and back again. The myriad of reasons that I have been given over the years for these do-shifts have included ease of maintenance, damaged hair, and embracing oneself.
I could always tell when a friend decided to forego their natural hair due to some underlying insecurity. It is a sad reality, but many people still have a complex when it comes to black hair. Even so, complexes can be faced on both ends of the spectrum. To polarize these groups—even indirectly—is risky. Not every “natural” woman possesses a healthy level of esteem. Likewise, not every sister with a weave is suffering from an identity crisis.
If I could call anything into question about Lenon’s video, it would involve his ability to remain flexible. If his daughters decide to experiment with their hair once they reach their 20s, would they feel as though they are breaking some sacred vow? Will they feel as though they have some moral obligation to maintain their kinky tresses? Will Lenon’s otherwise amazing message translate correctly?
Lenon is right. A father should be present. He should be a prime component in his children’s quest towards personal fulfillment. However, I do believe that this support should not only be undoubtedly unwavering, but tailored to fit each child. Image issues typically speak to something more deeply rooted. So whenever self-perception and hair is brought up in the same conversation, I’d bet money that it’s deeper than the roots.