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Girls and Long Hair: What Message Are We Sending?

I grew up hating my hair. Mousy brown (that’s right, I was not born with this vibrant ever-changing grey red hair), super fine, lifeless… I dreamed of having bouncy, shiny hair like those orgasmic beauties in the shampoo commercials. It’s probably why I’ve had no problem trying so many different styles throughout my lifetime — no matter how bad it gets, it can’t be much worse than the hair I was born with.

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Photo credit: Renee Bowen Photography

So when I was blessed with my daughter, I latched onto her black, thick, shiny Asian hair like she was Rapunzel and I was desperately climbing for my one chance to experience long, flowing, gorgeous locks. Seriously, her hair is perfect.

So when she started talking about cutting it short several months back, I would nod and smile and know that it just wasn’t going to happen. A few months ago, she stepped up her game, telling anyone who’d listen how she wanted a Mohawk. As I do when she asks for something that’s absolutely out of the question, I told her she could have one when she was 14.

I was pretty confident in my decision… until the doubt began to creep in. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t she have super short hair that she could style into a “fauxhawk”? Sorry, I don’t do Mohawks with my boys either — it’s not happening. I realized that I was projecting my own self doubt and insecurities onto my strong, sassy daughter. If she wants her hair cut, who am I to stop it from happening? Yes, kids might tease her… you know it happens. But the only thing worse than that is teaching her that she should make choices in life solely based on how other people (not even people she cares about) might perceive them.

Around the same time I had begun to doubt myself for being so rigid, I read an interview that Jada Pinkett Smith gave to People. While I’m not one to usually jump on what celebrities do or how they parent their children, Jada’s words about her own daughter Willow’s hair really moved, and stuck, with me.

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.

Willow cuts her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. 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.

She’s so right. We try to teach our daughters to love their bodies, no matter the size. We want to empower girls to respect themselves and not give their bodies away in exchange for a few minutes of feeling accepted and loved. But how can we teach them to make strong, independent decisions about their own selves when society, peers (and yes, even parents) are sending mixed messages that it’s okay to be yourself but only if you fit into what others deem beautiful?

I realized I was absolutely wrong and I told my daughter just that. I explained that while we weren’t going to go for the buzzed on the sides, long on the top full Mohawk, we were absolutely okay with her going for the short “pixie” type hair that she can then style into a fauxhawk when she feels inspired to do so. I told her that she was beautiful, inside and out, and it’s more than okay — it’s important — for her to be able to express who she is in creative, positive ways. If that means chopping off her hair, her dad and I were all for it.

But we had only one request. Since her hair was already so long (yet not long enough to meet the donation requirements) we asked that she wait a few more months to get her locks to a length that could be cut and donated to Wigs for Kids. I explained how there are kids who have no hair, for a variety of reasons, and would be so happy to receive a wig made from my daughter’s beautiful hair.

With a big smile on her face, she agreed — she was in.

So she waited… and it grew… and grew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It grew so long, it was constantly annoying her… in her face as she slept… the pony tail flopping around during gymnastics. She couldn’t wait for her hair to be cut. So this morning, we headed out to make it happen.

haircutI was worried that she’d regret cutting it all off but the smile on her face told me otherwise. It was bittersweet, seeing her so happy yet knowing that it was me and my stuff that kept her from feeling this for way too long. It was as if a weight were being lifted off her shoulders — I was finally seeing her for who she is and it felt so good.

Of course it wouldn’t be a hair post without the dramatic “after” shots. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present… my daughter.

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Weigh in: When I asked on Facebook whether parents would be willing to hand over control of their kids’ appearance, most of you said absolutely not. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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10 Ways to Pay it Forward

It was a tough week. I had a flu/strep throat combo that kicked my butt and forced me to rearrange carpool, postpone important meetings and cancel previously scheduled play dates, leaving my kids stir-crazy and frustrated. My daughter was also sick and my house was a wreck, with laundry taking on a life of its own and dirty dishes piling up on the counter (no longer fitting in the sink). I couldn’t even make dinner, never mind actually meet a deadline. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and needed a sign that it would all be okay… or at least a life-preserver.

Then I saw it.

The envelope sat in my mailbox like many had before, with just a name — no address — evidence it had been dropped in and not actually mailed. I grabbed it along with the rest and tore it open as I walked up the driveway. Was it an invitation to something in the neighborhood? Maybe pictures from a recent party that someone dropped off? I didn’t give it much thought. But then I opened it. Inside, it said…

“Jackie takes care of everyone! Time to take care of Jackie!”

payitforwardAs I read the words, it was like time stood still. Could it be there’s someone out there who understands? Does she know about my never-ending list of things to do? My unpaid bills? Can she relate to the chaos that accompanies my feeble attempt at being a good working mom? Tears immediately filled my eyes. There was someone out there who “got” me.

Then I noticed another envelope inside. I tore it open with my thin, broken nails wondering what could be inside. There, with my name written in black ink at the top, was a gift certificate for a pedicure. I swear I heard my chipped toes giggle with excitement! But I couldn’t help wonder “why me?” I mean, come on, isn’t every mom’s life jam-packed with constant insanity? Am I such a mess that this person thought I, above all others, could use this pick-me-up?

And who is this anonymous do-gooder, making such a kind, thoughtful, supportive gesture without sharing her identity (at least I assumed it was a “her”)? My mind began to race, quickly making a list of possible benefactors. But I found most interesting while I was wracking my brain, was that I wasn’t puzzled over which of my girlfriends is that generous (I’m so lucky in the friend category), it’s that I just couldn’t figure out who would do it without adding her name to the card.

It made me wonder: how many of us could go above and beyond for someone else and be okay with not getting the credit?

While some queried said they often do kind things and don’t want anything in return, others admitted that one of the main reasons to do something nice is to let the recipient know you care and value their friendship, something that can’t be done anonymously.

Whether it’s out loud or in private, my experience with the secret Santa was a great motivator. In fact, I felt so good during the days that followed that surprise in my mailbox that I noticed myself needing to pay it forward as much as I could. And the more I did, the more I noticed it coming right back, not necessarily in gifts and grand gestures, but little random acts of kindness that can enhance an ordinary day. (Here’s a special shout out to the woman at Toys R Us who moved shopping carts when she saw I was trying to pull into a parking space!)

I never did find out who was responsible for the generosity that day. But I hope she’s reading this and knows that not only did she give me the gift of pretty nails, she inspired me to pass on her message and pay it forward, something I hope I can inspire in those who read this.

What’s one way you can pay it forward? Share in the comments!

Win It: Arrojo Hair Care Gift Set

Rituals Colour Salon celebrates launch of PSJackie.com with a giveaway that will make you gorgeous!

My friend, Renee Kaehny, who owns the fabulous Rituals Colour Salon along with hubby Mike, has just announced their partnership with Nick Arrojo, that adorable celebrity hair stylist and television personality from TLC’s What Not to Wear.

To celebrate, Rituals is offering you — my incredibly fantastic readers — a gift pack of Arrojo hair care products! Pssst… you can also meet Nick Arrojo at a launch party happening at Rituals Colour Salon on June 21 (click here).

How to enter: Leave a comment! Yup, that’s it. Of course you’re welcome to leave one expressing your love for the new site… sharing your summer plans or suggesting a topic for me to write about… but all you have to do is comment by 11:59pm on June 9th, 2011. Good luck!

Note: Any reviews or giveaways I do are for products I love and recommend, unless clearly stated it is sponsored.

Big News for The Silver Whining

Four years later, celebrating the little adoption blog that could and kicking off the next phase in one mom’s online journey.

Four years ago today, I launched a little blog called Taiwan Lucy. It’s purpose? To be an online journal for me to keep friends and family updated throughout our adoption process.

Over a year later, I was amazed at the amount of support (and readership) the blog had, Lucy was becoming quite famous as the little lady whose court case kept us waiting for an entire year since being matched.

After Lucy finally came home to her parents and big brothers, the name of the blog was changed to Taiwan-On (about half of you will get the humor behind that name) and I continued to blog about life with three kids.

Eventually, it was time to let go of the adoption process and focus on the here and the now, which is when the blog was changed to The Silver Whining — a name that actually came to be by accident during a conversation with my husband when I actually went to say ‘Silver Lining.’ TSW, technically seen as a ‘mommy blog,’ has been a place to share personal stories as well as talk about topics in parenting and beyond.


In addition to my blog, I have been contributing to several other sites, helping to build readership, create more engaged fans through social media and writing about topics that create active conversation. In doing so, I’ve found a way to not only tap into my own voice and experience, but also building strong relationships with experts who are tops in their field. After three and a half years of that, I have finally come to the conclusion that I need to stop spreading myself so thin and dedicate my professional energies to projects that work for me — mentally, emotionally and financially.

That’s where P.S. Jackie comes in! It’s the next step in my blogging journey; a place to share information and resources on topics from parenting and special needs to news and pop culture. Toss in some travel, health, beauty and food… (with a sprinkle of giveaways) and we’ve got a well-balanced, entertaining destination for some interesting conversation!

Welcome! I hope you’ll stay awhile.