Grown Folks and “Baby Hair”

I post at least five or six selfies a month on social media. Usually, I’m on my way to work, at work, on my way to a sorority function, or at a sorority function; 90% of my selfies are taken or posted before 10 am. Weird, I know. Recently, I posted the following elevator selfie on my way to work:


After posting the photo on FB, one of my best friends and fellow blogger, Mishia (Check her out at: http://dress2theninesonadime.weebly.com/), posted the following message:


By the way, “Doll” is my mother’s nickname, and from time to time (especially since I’ve big chopped), people call me “Doll Jr.”. It was Mishia’s second statement, “And you got the ‘baby hair and Afro’…” that made me think about Beyonce’s popular “Formation” lyrics and how baby hair has always been a very distinct hair “thing” that belongs to Us.

There are countless articles about how “baby hair” has somehow been assumed by mainstream European (white) fashion and media as a “new” phenomena. Check out: http://jezebel.com/the-problem-with-baby-hairs-urban-and-the-fashion-indu-1635947700 or http://www.theroot.com/blog/elle_uk_says_baby_hair_is_a_new_trend/. However, We (black women) all know that the combed, brushed, slicked, gelled, or (God forbid) saliva-licked tendrils around the edges of ANY hairdo, as a kid, is not only acceptable, but expected as the final accompaniment to styling the perfect ‘do. Somehow, the hair is not exactly pristine and properly styled if a baby hair or two is not adorning the crown of any child, ages birth to 12 years old.

Having taught high school for over 18 years, when a child, more specifically-a young woman-enters high school, usually at the age of 13 or 14 years of age, the application of baby hairs can look a bit ridiculous, if forced, superficially created, hard-edged, or much too exaggerated. The young fashionista even may find herself the subject of childish ridicule and bullying about an outdated hairstyle. In high school, “edges on fleek” replaces the age-old term “baby hair.” As such, peer disapproval may center on the actual style, in general, rather than the application of the baby haired edges.

Technically (and biologically), when you’re no longer a baby, you really don’t have “baby hair.” A baby has “baby hair.” After a certain age, it’s difficult to distinguish what baby hair is-even if you’re 50 years old with “baby hair.” Is it a result of hair breakage along the hairline? Is it new growth along the edges from replenished follicles? Is baby hair really just a figment of our imaginations? If you must gel, brush, comb, or otherwise finesse the hair around the edges of your hairline, can you really call it “baby hair”?

If you’re grown, working a full-time job, paying rent or a mortgage, state-licensed to legally drink or drive, served in the military, or buying toilet paper for the home in which you live, more likely than not, your edges are gelled or otherwise forcibly compliant when it comes to “the look” of baby hair. Growing up, Chilli from TLC was the “Baby Hair Queen” and try as you might, Chilli’s innate hair texture lends itself to enviable baby hair, no matter the occasion:

Photo Credit: shatterproofglassdolls.com
Even some notable male R&B singers, like Ginuwine, donned ridiculously exaggerated “baby hair” gelled edges meticulously styled for his concerts and appearances. Alas, we thought Ginuwine (and his androgynous edges) was “fine as wine,” and we just wanted to ride that “Pony” with him. I miss the 90’s.

Photo Credit: madamenoire.com
It’s not uncommon to see grown folks with baby hair, and it made me think about my own daily hair routine. While I do not consciously comb down or use gel around my edges to perfect “baby hair,” I will confess to using a soft brush to smooth my TWA edges and brush down the hair just above my graying and wiry-haired temples. Any appearance of “baby hair,” is pure coincidence. Those two areas at the crown of my head are oddly shaped (see picture below), so I tend to brush my hair slightly forward in those two areas. At almost a half a century in age, baby hair isn’t exactly the look I’m going for…at all:

So, what’s your take on “baby hair” beyond 15 years of age? How old should one be when you stop creating “baby hair” or elaborately gelled and swirled edges? Does the profession matter? Is baby hair appropriate as a styling element for those who work in a conservative workplace? What if your best friend dons gelled, swirled, and glistening “baby hair” no matter where you two go; she is baby hair-ready? Do you make fun of the 40-something baby hair-ers? What if your boss has the baby hair from the 90’s and just won’t let it go?

Hard to say. It’s just grown folks and baby hair…

5 thoughts on “Grown Folks and “Baby Hair”

  1. My brother’s mom used to create her baby hair back in the late ’70s. She used some type of pomade though. I remember Chilli and Ginuwine…that made me laugh. I think today some women slick that hair down best they can because of hair damage. I tried it several times but my hair ain’t going. I got that “good hair”. Lol. To answer your question if I would say something…to that person no only because I wouldn’t know them. And secondly who I am to dim a light on a fashionista and her greatness. Lastly…I’m going to sip on this tea and wonder why my edges won’t stay down. Lol….just like every fashion…it repeats itself at some point but at a different level. Thank you for this interesting take on “baby hair”.

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