WTF: Mom Straightens 4-Month-Old Black Baby’s Hair—She Is Decidedly NOT Happy Her Girl Is Nappy

You might want to sit down for this one.

Take a good, hard look at this picture. Go ahead—I’ll wait.

Now go back and look at the conversation between the mother of this little baby and her mom’s Facebook “friend.”

Oh no girl—it’s not a joke or a game. That baby, only four months old, barely able to distinguish colors, not yet ready for solid foods, just learning how to say “da da,” has her hair straightened. It’s not clear if said straightening on said 4-month-old was done with skin-burning chemical relaxer, a fire-hot pressing comb or the burning-hot heat of a blow dryer. What is absolutely crystal, though, is that this child’s tender, baby curls were stripped, the child’s hair is damaged and her mother is a complete and total idiot who clearly is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

Hell yes—I said it: This. Mother. Is. A. Dumb. Ass. Idiot.

What kind of sick, low-self-esteem-having, self-hating ignoramus do you have to be to sit your baby—BABY!—in your lap, take her baby-soft curls into your hands and decide that it’s so unmanageable, so unruly, so ugly, that you can’t go on one minute longer until your infant—INFANT!—has straight hair? How many f*cks do you have to not give about your child to pull chemicals/a hot comb/a brush and blow dryer across her tender, sensitive little scalp at just 4 months old?

I mean, I understand it’s hard to know what to do with kinky, curly hair when all you have to work with is a little bit of information, great trepidation and memories of your own Saturday night black girl hair kitchen torture squirm between your mom’s knees. I know this was a huge issue for me when my girls were babies; all of the how-to’s in the parenting books focused on hair and skin that didn’t look or feel like my girls’. I knew everything there was to know about how to care for a baby with thin, blonde hair, and it seemed like every product in the kids’ shampoo section was made specifically for them. But what was I supposed to put in my baby’s hair? What would keep it from drying out? How was I supposed to comb it? What was I supposed to do as the texture changed—sometimes just on one side of her head? Was it safe to braid it? Pull it into puffs? Put barrettes in it? And what was a nice, curt, way of telling my mom’s friends that my kid’s hair was in an Afro, sans braids/puffs/hairclips/lye because I liked it that way and it was actually better for her?

Honestly, there still aren’t any black children’s hair care books out that explain it all, only a few of the bazillion black hair care blogs actually focus on the delicate but thick tendrils of black children (one of my faves is Beads, Braids & Beyond). And only one line of products—Cara B Naturally—can claim to be all natural and, without any question, safe for a baby’s hair and skin. But dammit, lack of information and products should never be an excuse for straightening a 4-month-old black baby girl’s hair. Like, ever. Google it. Phone a friend. Buy a clue. Get your life. Do something—anything—other than torturing your baby and setting her up for a lifetime of self-hate.

I just want to rent a truck, fill it with copies of “Happy To Be Nappy” and “I Love My Hair!” and dump it all out on this fool mother’s front lawn. Something just tells me, though, that the beautiful messages contained in their pages—that African American girls with thick, curly, kinky hair are beautiful exactly the way they are—would be totally lost on her. Totally.

Hat tip to my girl Jennae Peterson of Green & Gorgeous, who spotted the picture and wrote a brilliant piece about it on her natural beauty blog. Check out her dead-on commentary here.


1. The Joys (And Pains!) Of Kinky Black Girl Hair
2. The Attack Against Black Girl Beauty
3. A Beautiful Black Girl Finally Says, “I Love My Hair!” 
4. Learning How To Care For Black Baby Hair

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. This is so, so sad. My heart aches for this beautiful, little girl because as well intentioned her mother may have been, the intention came from a place of ignorance. As a result, this little, girl will wrestle with changing her self image to fit ill-fitted standards of beauty. This type of story is exactly what I’m working to overcome with the Fearless Five concept. In that, I’m trying to provide positive images of young, black kids that see themselves as superheroes. Apparently, I have my work cut out.

  2. Wow, that’s all I can say…

  3. Call child protective services. This is shameful. A baby! Already the picture is posted that she is not enough the way she is. I feel sorry for the mother, because obviously she does not think she is good enough either. Praying for them. So sad!

  4. Do we really hate ourselves that much? What is she going to teach her when she’s older? That makes me sick!

  5. Angela Akinniyi

    Another great example of the parents and children of today’s world (and tomorrow’s). Ugh!!! So sad! I run into those types at WalFart with their pants hanging down their legs AND their mother’s walking alongside them. I mean, it makes me wanna holla!!!!!!!!

  6. Oh no! This is sad.

  7. If you hate yourself that much, that’s perfectly fine and I’m no one to stop you. But please remember that you will pass that same self loathing to your offspring…so perhaps you should make the world a better place and not bring children into this world only to handicap them with your self-hate.

    That baby deserves a fighting chance, one that you’ve already taken away. SHAME ON YOU!!!!

  8. Again, this is why the government is soon going to put regulations on who can and can’t have kids. Forget the fact that it’s only “her hair” as she tells one friend, it’s not safe to have straightening combs or flat irons in a baby’s hair period. One wrong move your child could be seriously burned and scarred for life. Not to mention, at four months your child’s hair is still developing and transitioning to it’s natural texture. Applying heat and the wrong products will damage that.

    I wish that parents would get smarter and stop doing stupid stuff like this. Honestly, some people make parenting harder it has to be!

  9. We”ve got BIG work to do, sisters and brothers!! THE SELF-HATRED IS DEEP. What do we have in schools, in churches, in mosques, in clubs, on the street, in electronic media does NOT reinforce the “curse” of our physiognomy? We can’t blame the victims when we are mentally still enslaved. Let’s change the images forced on us for 500 years.

  10. Having a almost four month old in my arms right now, I cannot IMAGINE how she was able to do this without inflicting pain on her child. They jerk and kick and move in unpredictable ways…I’m generally not the “call CPS” type when parents do dumb, but not necessarily dangerous things to their kids. But this is beyond dumb and dangerous. It’s absolutely moronic – and a predictor of other moronic things this mother might do in the future. Call the police for child endangerment.

  11. What state is this and where is Child Protective Services?

  12. As my granny used to say, “Umph, umph, umph!”

  13. Do not ridicule this girl. First she may be on welfare, then she may have some small minded friends who tease her relentlessly about her baby kinky nappy hair. Because, here in the U.S it seems like blacks pay more and care about their hair more than having an education.

    • The ridicule is justified and necessary. Why excuse backwardness and justify stupidity with excuses like poverty? And please, Blacks in the U.S. prioritize hair over education? As opposed to African, Caribbean, Latin American, Asian and European countries? Give me a break! I’ve lived in several poor countries where Blacks didn’t have running water but every man, woman and child had relaxers. You see the same low prioritization of necessities everywhere among SOME poor and middle-class Blacks (people of every ethnicity for that matter), save the generalizations.

    • Im sorry Dee but that was ignorant just as much as the lady flat ironing her baby hair. Ignorant comes in many different forms.

  14. The future implications of this one single act is sickening to me. This beautiful infant will be subject to a childhood of self-loathing.

    Denene, you went in on the mama and I’m not mad at you!

  15. That poor baby!

  16. I weep for this child. I want to fight her mother. I have an eleven month old and it would never cross my mind to do something like this. My daughter has ALOT of hair and my hair combing repertoire consists of Dr. Bonner’s Castile soap, coconut oil, hair butter by POOKA and afro puffs. I never want her to know a straightening comb or the creamy crack. **sigh**

    Most of the time I reserve judgment when it comes to Moms who are doing the best they can…but today, I’m judging. All day long. – TMLG

  17. That is just awful! So sad!

  18. The actions of the person are questionable as to why they would want to change the texture of a young child’s hair are questionable. However the language you use to describe her is completely inappropriate – insensitive aggressive, thoughtless and reactionary to the woman and to actually show the child’s face! Why not give the child anonymity? I notice natural hair sisters are once again acting the hair police! Well I’m keeping my natural fro out of this mess cause you guys are no better than her supposed actions if they are true!

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby


      What is insensitive, aggressive, thoughtless and reactionary is a mother using a pressing comb/blow dryer/chemicals to straighten a 4-month-old’s hair. Quite frankly? The words you see in this post are WAY more kind than the ones I originally wrote. I actually edited this one twice before I posted it, seeing as this is a family site and I do my best not to curse. And you know what else? I hope to high hell that the mother sees this so she can really understand just how nasty, destructive and foul her actions are. I don’t give a rat’s ass what she does with her own hair. But good God, as a lover of brown babies, I DO care about the mess she’s heaping on that baby. (P.S.—SHE put the picture of her child on Facebook.)

      • “(P.S.—SHE put the picture of her child on Facebook.)”

        Yea but in fairness, you are re-sharing it to a wider audience. I totally get your anger, just wanted to point that bit out about the baby’s identity.

  19. You are kind, you are smart, you are important and you are a BEAUTIFUL baby girl who will grow into all of that in a woman. Despite what your mother is doing right now, I’m speaking words over you, prayers over you that God will keep you, protect you and raise your spirit.

    This entire story breaks my heart, as Beautiful Black Women trying to empower our Beautiful Black Girls, I feel the tearing down of spirit beginning at the precious age of five months.

  20. She should be arrested for that crap. How can you straighten that babies hair and NOT burn her tender scalp!!!! Her stupidity pisses me off. If I knew her I’d call Family Services on her.

  21. Do you know that a Black woman “perfected” a “permanent wave machine” in the 50s so that white women with straight hair could get waves and curls? We are still our own worse enemies! The worse part of this story is the negative comments and the assumptions made. We don’t allow for differences. Please give that mother a break. Straightening with a comb is much healthier for the hair than the weaves, relaxers, tight braids, etc. Poor Janet Jackson has lost hair back to her ears from years of processing. My mother sent me to the beauty shop because it was a time saver for her. (She worked 2-3 jobs per day.) She also wanted her only girl, with hair down her back, to wear the styles of that time. I did not “need” my hair straightened. Growing up I was bullied about my hair in my segregated world by black people. Negative comments: “You think you’re cute because you have long hair!”; “You think you’re cute because you’re light skinned.” Was it curly or kinky?! (Just curious) No one is born knowing how to care for any type of hair. Whether it’s bone straight or “bad to the bone” (I know … bad joke! 🙂 I had the pleasant experience of a young, white, mother sharing hair care tips with…this young, black, grand-mother. 🙂 Her baby girl is very black/beautiful with beautiful faux dreads prepared with loving care by the young mother. She even shared information on the store “Precious” which specializes in “black” hair care. Precious is owned/operated by a first generation African immigrant. I really enjoyed the interaction as she told me her family is from Cleveland and shared how hard it is to get things here that are readily available “back home.” Let’s stop the knee jerk reactions to provocative information like this. Oh yes, my hair stylists are three, white female barbers who help keep my “natural” hair looking good! Thank you.

    • @ Zona…yes, girl, I heard those comments too about how I thought I was all that because of my light skin and long hair.


  23. yall need to stop it.

  24. Wow,wow…..i am stunned. Judging by mother’s name, she is Hispanic. She need to stop fronting like they don’t come out with all types of hair texture. She needs to be reported. Baby scalp and skin is so sensitive. Lord knows if she burned that baby or not.

  25. I am ashamed of being a BBW , black beautiful mother now. Why do our women behave this way??

    • Why would you be ashamed…. We as parents not just Blk either.. are responsible for our own choices in life. We chose to put the work into being wonderful parents. It’s not a color thing.

  26. I think it looks cute, however, how she was able to keep the baby still for that long is a miracle. I wish there was a before and after. As long as she didn’t harm the child and all turned out well, what’s the big deal? I myself would have waited till she was 1 or 2, but to each their own.

  27. Addressing the comment, “There aren’t any black children’s hair-care books that explain it all.” Actually, there now is! Rory Mullen and her daughter just published their first book “Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care; A Parent’s Guide To Beginning Natural Hair Styling.” Rory has a blog by the same name and she is passionate about natural hair care! And if I may say so myself, has designed many natural styles that are absolutely adorable and work WITH the hair, rather than against it! Good news for parents of kids with fabulous curly/nappy/kinky hair!

  28. Ignorance on the mother’s part….but this post is cruel as well.,….ugh

  29. I don’t see what the big deal is. Tons of people pierce their baby’s ears and no one bats an eyelash?! But this is somehow worse?

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