For mom and blogger Lauren Casper, doing her daughter’s hair is something she thought about even before she brought her baby home. Arsema, now 3, was four months old when Casper and her husband adopted her from Ethiopia. “Prior to her coming home, I had researched as much as I could about black culture and raising black children,” Casper, who is white, tells Yahoo Parenting. “For raising a girl specifically, I was learning how important black hair is in the culture. And while I was well-versed in my own hair, that is obviously very different.”
In an essay posted on Today’s community blog this week, Casper writes about watching YouTube videos and scoping out Pinterest boards to learn to style her daughter’s hair, and the mother-daughter bonding time that has resulted. “As the white mother of a beautiful black daughter, hair care has been a steep learning curve for me,” she writes.
“I want my daughter to love her hair and be proud of the springy black curls that cover her head. I want to be able to care for and style her hair in a way shows I understand that her hair is different and I celebrate her unique beauty.”
Every Saturday evening, Casper and Arsema have their weekly styling sessions. “We do the big shampoo and condition and she picks a style from my Pinterest board,” Casper says. Arsema settles in with a movie on the laptop, while Casper gets to styling. “The shortest amount of time it takes me is 30-45 minutes with the detangling and the parting, even just for braids or puffs,” she says. “The longest we have ever done is two hours – that one stayed in for two weeks.”
Casper says she loves this special mother-daughter time, especially because she’s always loved doing her own hair. “I like doing hair. And when Arsema came home, I recognized I was in over my head for a little while. But it’s fun for me and I wanted to do this with her,” she says. “It’s like when I’m getting ready in the morning and doing my makeup, she pulls up a chair in the bathroom and does lipstick, too. They are fun moments.”
But for this pair, the hairstyling is about more than just getting primped. “I’ve learned from talking to my friends and doing research into black culture that hair is really important. And so I want to do everything I can to celebrate and enter into the culture that my daughter is a part of,” she says. “I realize that I’m still on the outside looking in and will never fully understand, but I want to do everything I can to keep Arsema connected to that as much as possible. I want her to love everything about herself. I want her to love her hair, her skin, and part of helping her love her hair and have that positive body image is caring for it and making sure it’s healthy and that styling it is a fun and a positive experience.”