What to do when your kinky-haired child wants to look like Elsa

We’ve watched the movie Frozen so many times in my house that I know every word forward and backward.

It’s almost always my 3-year-old’s choice for our weekly movie night.

The first movie she ever watched was Moana, and she quickly got attached to our new family favorite.

I also introduced her to Princess Tiana, since princesses were high up on the list of things she admires. She didn’t like Disney’s first black princess as much as Moana, but, hey, Moana was a great character to look up to.

But somehow, she caught the Frozen bug.

Anna’s cute little smile and Elsa’s distinctively white hair were on every little girl’s sweater, backpack and lunchbox. The sisters were hard to miss. My daughter fell in love with Frozen long before we ever watched the movie.

I was cool with her choosing Princess Anna over Tiana, no biggie.

It wasn’t until she threw a whole fit in the middle of the floor about wanting hair like Elsa that we had a problem.

It was hard to soothe my temperamental child that day. I couldn’t believe we had reached the point of explaining the differences between her curly hair and other types of hair. It hurt me having to convince her that her hair was beautiful as is.

So I dove in, luckily having the groundwork to support me. We have always complimented her dark, kinky locks.

“Princesses with bantu knots bake a lot”

I immediately turned to one of her favorite books: Princess Hair. I had to show her concrete examples of little brown girls with brown-girl hairstyles. Thank God for Princess Hair.

She enjoyed seeing the princesses with bantu knots, fro-hawks, twistouts and braids, as she always had. Phoenix gets a lot of hair inspiration from these pages, too.

Next, I gathered a few of her dolls to show her how they share her same curls, and I could see the excitement glint in her eyes. I used these representations to positively reinforce how beautiful, versatile and all around badass curly, kinky, nappy hair is.

If my daughter saw a “friend” on any of our outings with afro puffs or braids, she quickly noticed. I also reminded her that the girls in her family — her loving grandmothers, the cool aunt and the adorable cousins — have curly hair. That put her over the moon.

I remained consistent. I became more intentional about which programs we watched and which books we borrowed from the library. We always, always bring home books starring little black kids.

When they say representation matters, this is why.

Today, Phoenix, who still wears her Princess Anna nightgown and plays with her impressive collection of Frozen toys, undoubtedly love her hair. She expresses a tender affection for the dolls and characters who look like her.

While I’m glad to offer her some representation, it’s not always enough. When we get a kids’ cup at a restaurant or see a cover of an educational DVD, I find myself begging the question: “They couldn’t have put one black kid on here?”

The Elsa meltdown was the first of its kind. Since, the only hair problem we have is when I haphazardly cram wash day into our Sunday lineup.

One day, I would love to see a fierce, kinky-haired princess that takes our breath away. Until then, it’ll be as much Princess Hair as Phoenix allows.

Nappy princesses are happy princesses

Sharee Miller’s Princess Hair

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