Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wig for kids?




Is there anybody out there that has ever considered getting a wig for your hair-challenged child? I *NEVER* thought that this type of thing would even cross my mind, but the older Kendi gets without much hair growth, the more I think about alternatives.




She just loved the yarn braids we had in for a few months over the holiday season. But the yarn braids did not love her. Her hair continues to get thicker month by month, but we see very little growth. She's 3.5 years and has been home for 1.5 years. This isn't just a matter of her "catching up" anymore. Her doctors agree that this might be a real long-term issue for her.




Certainly hair is not considered a "big deal." That is, unless you don't have it. How much do we girls love to have hair options? How many of us love the option to go curly or straight, long or short? I do. My other daughter does. Kendi does too--but she doesn't have options. Yes, she totally rocks her little mini-fro, palm coils, and tiny twists. I figure her heard can handle yarn braids one or twice a year, tops. The child absolutely adores her play wigs. She wants to have pony tails and braids like most other little girls. And I can't give them to her.




Do they even make good natural looking African hair wigs? Would it be completely silly to consider this as an option for Kendi--for those days when she wishes she had longer hair? Just something I've been thinking about lately. I don't know of any other internationally adopted children who have had the issue of no/slow hair growth. =-(




Anita


P.S. To make it clear, *I* do not have a problem with my daughter's gorgeous short hair. But I can see her lack of hair is starting to make her feel self-conscious.

16 comments:

His Hands His Feet Today 8:15 AM  

Unfortunately Madisyn is in the same position. She has been home almost 5 YEARS and her hair has grown very little in length :(

Apparently, it's just the way some kids are I've been told.

Kait 10:41 AM  

With all due respect Anita, how much of her self awareness about her lack of hair is from you? You've talked quite a bit about how much you were looking forward to being able to do her hair - is her awareness because she's seeing it reflected from you (unintentionally)?

I've never heard of wigs for kids but I would start now by praising her hair every chance you get. Point out other black women with short hair and how cute it is. I know you do bows and headbands with her hair but make a big deal over how cute it is with her hair like that. Her self esteem is really in your hands at this age. While I'm sure she does and will long for hair different from what she has (what straight haired girl hasn't wished for curls at some point?) I think right now you should focus on letting her know how beautiful she is just the way she looks right now.

Nadia 10:53 AM  

thats why black women wear weaves! it's a wig...sewn onto their existing hair... short hair. you should look into it.

Sister Beta 12:17 PM  

Um, awesome! I wish I knew a place...I think it's a great idea. I would look up an African/African American salon near you and ask them. Hope you find something.

A. Gillispie 2:33 PM  

Kait, I have a hard time with your comment. It goes to show that it's really impossible for people to know you "just" from a blog. If you knew me you'd know that I praise my children for their inner beauty and outer beauty--very often. I lift them up and encourage them to find beauty in differences.

Kendi does NOT get her self-esteem only from me at her age. She is bright child that sees a difference in herself and her peers. No matter how much I tell her I love her hair just the way it is, SHE dreams of having longer hair.

Every single night I sit with her and massage her hair, putting oils and smell good stuff, telling her how wonderful her hair is.

I talk about Kendi's hair (and my inner feelings about it) on my blog because it is a REAL issue that many parents never have to deal with or might have read about anywhere else.

I hurt for my daughter--that a combination of HIV, malnutrition, and neglect left her with an inability to grow hair like most other people.

I speak about the hurt I feel for my daughter here, but I have NEVER EVER said that I feel like she is less or looks less beautiful because of her short hair.

I want my daughter to feel good about herself. If she was missing a leg I'd get her a prosthetic. If she were horribly scared, I would facilitate her to have plastic surgery.

There are some things I can't do anything about. I can't take the HIV from her. I can't heal her heart from the abuse and neglect she survived in Ghana. But I can help her to feel good about herself.

In the mean time, I have a daughter who comes up to me several times a week and says, "Mommy, I want Dora hair." [Her ideal of long hair.] "Mommy, I want a pony tail like sissy has." "Mommy, can I have bangs?"

If there's a possibility I can help her feel better about herself, why wouldn't I do that?

Kait 3:13 PM  

I didn't mean to offend you Anita. I think you've done brilliantly with having four children from three different countries and being honest about the realities of the health issues within your family.

I was looking at your post from my personal experience with my two daughters, who are 3 and 4. One child has soft, relaxed curls that grow very long. One child has tight, kinky curls that stay close to her head no matter how long her hair grows. Both girls ask on a regular basis to have hair like me or like each other instead of how their hair naturally is.

I, personally, look at it as building the blocks of teaching self acceptance. Their whole lives they will hear that their hair is wrong or their butt is too big or their skin is too dark or they are weird for the way our family as a whole looks. Since they are young and look for their approval and acceptance from us as their parents, we make a strong effort to acknowledge their desires of looking different while encouraging them to love the way they are.

You asked for opinions and here is mine - she is so young and you've got great opportunity to continue building the idea of self acceptance right now, as she is, before looking in to wigs and weaves and other options. I know you'll do the very best thing for Kendi. I know you love her exactly as she is. I did not mean to imply anything else.

abby 4:05 PM  

Anita - I'm pretty sure they do make wigs. I have a friend that has one or two for her daughter. She keeps them on hand when she's late for school and a fresh hair-do isn't an option at the moment.

Also, I know know that they make nice wigs for african-american hair. My ex-boss used to wear one that was made of sister-locs and I had no idea it was a wig until one day she took it off because she was getting hot. (she also had thin, patchy hair).

Rachel 4:59 PM  

I was thinking the same thing as Nadia mentioned. Many black women I know have short hair and then get weaves or extensions. I don't know much about the weaves but I'm sure you could find info at a black hair shop. I also wonder if the real hair extensions, professionally done, could be easier on her hair? I just know that when I did yarn braids for Cinderella I never made (or even could make) the sections as tiny as I see on the professionally done extensions that many girls have. They are TINY. I think I remember hearing that culturally AA families tend to avoid extensions on young children but I would guess that in Kendi's case there would be leeway.

I really think your key is going to be the black community. Go into a hair shop and tell them what's going on and ask for their help. I've always found AA women to be amazingly willing to help me understand how to do hair.

Let us know what you find out! I am sure that there are other families either now or in the future who would benefit from what you learn.

B 9:13 PM  

I taught a little girl from ghana with Alopecia. She wore a cute hat for all of elementary school. That was just the way it was. The kids all saw her like that from the age of 4 and it was never an issue (except for the one gym day when it fell off...she was devastated). I just saw her last week, she is a 10th grader now. A tenth grader with a beautiful wig. She is stunning. Glows with new confidence (she was always very confident and self assured). I asked her about it and she clearly wishes that her parents had helped her by getting a wig much much earlier...before middle school anyway (so in our district 6th grade). The middle school years were hard. New friends and a tough age as well.

A different situation for sure as she is completely bald but this lovely self confident outgoing girl with high self esteem had been quietly wishing for a wig for more than a decade before her wish came true.

Amy 9:39 PM  

Hugs my friend... I'm sure it is hard to see your little one wish for something she can't have right now. I'm not sure what solution there is, but I know you love her so much that you'll help her through this however you see fit.

Love ya and sending majorly good hair vibes Miss Kendi's way!

Fabu

A. Gillispie 10:08 PM  

Thanks for the comments all. I don't think a wig is anything I'll be moving towards quickly, but the longer she goes without significant hair growth, the more I think about what the options will be in the future. I'm not really very open to weaves/extensions because I know how easily hear hair broke just with the yarn braids. The pros put them in much tighter and close to the scalp than I do. Did you know that some women have permanent hair loss from extensions that have been put in too tight/too long? Yup.

She loves to wear hats (and looks totally cute too), and at any given time she's running around the house with one of her play wigs on. I think having her wear a wig every day at this age would definitely send her the wrong message. But it might be a nice thing to add to our collection of hair options, for those days that she thinks she will just die if she doesn't have Dora hair! =-)

lishoprah 1:17 PM  

Have you thought about doing micro locs? If she is having any hair growth at all, locs would keep you from losing length to daily combing. I know you said you don't want to go to a pro for extensions (and I've never seen them done professionally), but I just did my 9 year old's a couple of months ago for the first time. I left them in for 8 weeks -- just the cheap fake extensions -- and I was shocked at how little hair loss she had when I took them out. I normally lose quite a bit when taking out cornrows or regular braids after just a few weeks, and the extensions just seemed to protect her hair and were easy to take out. I think they would be a better solution for your few times a year long hair dos than the yarn braids :). They were really very easy to figure out also -- basically you take one long section of the extension that is about as thick as the real hair you're going to braid, wrap it around and hold it at the base of the hair while you do a few rounds of the braid. It was easy to do it a little looser too if needed....

lishoprah 1:18 PM  

Have you thought about doing micro locs? If she is having any hair growth at all, locs would keep you from losing length to daily combing. I know you said you don't want to go to a pro for extensions (and I've never seen them done professionally), but I just did my 9 year old's a couple of months ago for the first time. I left them in for 8 weeks -- just the cheap fake extensions -- and I was shocked at how little hair loss she had when I took them out. I normally lose quite a bit when taking out cornrows or regular braids after just a few weeks, and the extensions just seemed to protect her hair and were easy to take out. I think they would be a better solution for your few times a year long hair dos than the yarn braids :). They were really very easy to figure out also -- basically you take one long section of the extension that is about as thick as the real hair you're going to braid, wrap it around and hold it at the base of the hair while you do a few rounds of the braid. It was easy to do it a little looser too if needed....

Nadia 5:13 PM  

I also would NOT suggest professional extensions, they are like scissors and will slice the hair off. a weave is sewn onto cornrows. as long as she had enough to cornrow it would work and I think would be less stress being sewn in as opposed to braided. I asked a Kenyan friend yesterday and she thought it would be a good option(and she knows MY obsession with natural hair!!)

A. Gillispie 7:17 PM  

Nadia, thank you for reminding me of the difference between extensions and weaves! Yes, I think I would feel more comfortable with a weave. Right now, maybe a pro could get her hair into cornrows but I can't. Thanks everybody for all of the options!

Rachel 8:06 AM  

Thanks to those of you who explained the potential harm of professional extensions. I didn't know that. When Cinderella was with us professional hair styling was completely out of our realm financially so I never even looked into it. Cinderella's hair did really well with the yarn extensions and they did seem to protect her hair. But, her hair was much longer and stronger than Kendi's so I can see how even those braids might be harmful in Kendi's situation.