ggold Dec 4, 2012
Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with hair, eyeliner and lipstick. The girl who rose to fame for whipping her hair back and forth is in the news for making another bold move with those legendary locks. Twelve-year-old Willow Smith, daughter of Hollywood power couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, recently posted a photo online of her newly shaved head. Critics immediately sounded off on the look, questioning the parenting skills of a mom and dad whose youngest child is already well-known for her alternative grunge-meets-punk sense of style characterized by hot pink hair, funky nail art and platform combat boots. In response, mom took to Facebook and posted this powerful reply: The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It's also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother's deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be. Over 40,000 likes and shares later, it's clear that Pinkett Smith's message resonated with a lot of women. After all, how many of us have been told how to do (or not do) our hair, makeup and nails, whether during our girlhood days or as adults? Why do young women who experiment with untraditional expressions of beauty experience such backlash? In reading through the online commentary, it seems there are two overall reactions. In one camp are those who feel that while girls should be free to explore their identities as they grow and mature, parents need to set boundaries of guidance. Too many parents are primarily concerned with being friends, they argue, and need to remember to be parents, too. Wendy, a reader on my Facebook page, agrees with the above stance, but has her own wisdom to add: "That being said, it's all about what is important enough to fight. If it doesn't harm them or anyone else, I say go for it! Don't sweat the small stuff." I'm guessing there's more harmony in Wendy's home than in most with young kids! In the other camp are folks who don't understand what the big to-do is over a girl shaving her head. They believe the social boundaries that make this choice of style appear odd aren't fair to begin with, and only serve to support outdated gender notions of what it means to be a girl. To them, there is nothing outrageous or even questionable about Smith shaving her head. What do you think? Is this much ado about nothing, or do you believe in social beauty boundaries?

Photo: Getty Images



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