Black hair basics for Brangelina

by guest contributor Meera Bowman Johnson, originally published at Our Kind of Parenting

Sisters are miffed about about Angelina Jolie’s upcoming starring role in a film about part Afro-Cuban journalist Marianne Pearl. Many resent that a white girl would even attempt to use self-tanner to portray a woman of color. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down with the neo black-face, either. But it’s hard for me to completely blame the actress when I find it highly conceivable that within the multi-cultural, Jolie-Pitt clan, love has become color-blind. With a beloved brood that resembles a mini model U.N., it’s quite possible that racial differences are the furthest thing from the Brangelina radar.

What I do find problematic is the couple’s clear lack of clues about styling their daughter Zahara’s hair. Recently, the beautiful Ethiopian toddler has been spotted sporting a slightly matted, slightly uneven twa. Other photos feature the Jolie-Pitt Princess riding regally atop her proud papa’s shoulders…dressed like a mini Aunt Jemima. Not entirely, she was wearing pants, not a hoop skirt. But that kerchief was the clincher. I’m sure the styling move wasn’t intentional, but no Hollywood child can keep their spot on the toddler a-list without being appropriately coiffed.

Even if peace and love has eliminated race from the family’s equation, that still doesn’t mean it’s not there. Zahara Jolie-Pitt is almost two years old now. It’s high time for her hipper-than-thou humanitarian parents to sit her down and learn how to make a straight part. So before I jump on the “See, that’s what happens when white people adopt black babies…” bandwagon, here’s a primer for Angie, Brad, the nanny or whoever is responsible for that child’s hair. At least they can’t say they weren’t told.

1. LET HER CRY
Nobody wants to see their child suffering, let alone be the one to cause it. But shedding tears while getting hair done is just a rite of passage that all little black girls must endure. From Harlem to Hollywood and beyond, tenderheadedness is just a part of life.

2. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
It’s not your fault that the Ethiopian orphanage failed to provide Angelina with hair instructions and a goodie bag of Blue Magic, plastic balls and barettes when she signed that last adoption paper. Accept the learning curve by investing in one of those giant Barbie heads and teach yourself to cornrow.

3. ADOPT A FEW AUNTS
It can be pretty lonely being the only black child, even within one’s own family. So it might be wise to have a few “aunties” of African descent on speed-dial for Zahara to look up to. Halle Berry would make a decent option, provided she’s herself, not in character for an upcoming role. Queen Latifah is a worthy choice too. Steer clear of Naomi Campbell, unless you plan to teach Zahara how to fight.

4. KNOW THE POWER OF THE PUFF
Effortlessly cool, the afro puff is perfect for meeting the paprazzi or just grabbing a plain slice of pizza. Zahara could rock one, two or three puffs, but four or more and you may get criticized for dressing her like a pickanniny. I wouldn’t go there if I were you.

5. PUT THE SCISSORS DOWN
Cutting hair is completely off limits for a little black girl for reasons I’m not even fully aware of. But no matter what, don’t do it. Yes, the Mohawk looks cool on Maddox, but a ‘frohawk on Zahara will not.

6. A PRESS AND CURL CAN BE YOUR FRIEND
Learn how to use a hot comb, every fabulous female needs styling options. Don’t be afraid to use it, Oprah could probably show you how.

7. FIND ZAHARA SOME GIRLFRIENDS
It may not seem important now, but Z will need some friends of color as she matures. Please don’t let her grow up thinking she looks just like Shiloh Nouvel. Iman and David Bowie have a little girl, and Eddie Murphy has a bunch to choose from. Have your people call theirs and set up a play date.

8. DON’T OVER DO IT
Big ups to Brad for the huge shout out to sister-owned Carol’s Daughter in Esquire Magazine. Just don’t get over zealous with those – or any – hair products. The daily shampoo schedule used for Maddox and Shiloh Nouvel won’t work for your brown baby girl. Once a week is fine.

9. REMIND HER THAT SHE’S BEAUTIFUL
There’s really no such thing as too much.