Jada Pinkett-Smith is aware of the critics that frown up their noses at the way she raises her daughter, Willow. Willow cuts, dyes and styles her hair as she pleases, a fact that bothers many who feel girls shouldn’t have that much control over their appearance at such a young age.

Jada decided to address the criticism in a Facebook post:

“A letter to a friend…This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this post it will remain incomplete. The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be.”

While you may or may not agree with her choice to give Willow sartorial freedom, Jada’s point about girls being a slave to their mother’s deepest insecurities rings true.

I’ve heard mothers who have struggled with weight loss say they’re going to make sure their daughters don’t gain any excess pounds. There are even mothers who always yearned for long hair who refuse to let their daughters cut their’s.

Of course, both mothers and fathers could be guilty of influencing their children based on their insecurities — and the influence is not all bad. But Jada may have made a case for letting children have some degree of authority over their own look and style.

What are your thoughts, Clutchettes? Do you agree with Jada?

  • isolde3

    So, are we to insinuate from your screed that Jada does not have rules and boundaries in her home based on her daughter’s haircuts and skater punk look?

  • http://gravatar.com/arlette81 arlette

    well i was having a splendid day till i read your ignorant comment, lol. Its so sad that you feel this way/

  • http://twitter.com/obaa_boni M. Dankwaa (@obaa_boni)

    Rebellion is a glorious thing. We are looking for leaders, not stifled followers.

    Also you are a man. Your subject position is different. Jada is brilliant and correct. Women should learn that our bodies are our own ! And that lesson should start from a very young age.

  • Mademoiselle

    Willow’s hair doesn’t bother me, but is she also choosing her mom’s hairstyles? I’ve seen several pictures of Jada with teeny-bopper hairdos and can’t figure out why she’s wearing them.

  • http://poetrynlove.wordpress.com poetrynlove

    I love it!

  • Starla

    I think the bigger lesson she is teaching Willow is that it is fine to go her own path, even if she is only one walking it. That is one of the most powerful things a parent can teach a child. Most of us were taught to go along with the crowd, even if we didn’t understand or believed what they believed in. Now, many still have no clue about who they are, because they were busy following someone else’s program they had no time to build their own.

  • http://tatendarobyn.wordpress.com TatendaRobin

    I think Jada Pinkett has a point, she can raise Willow with all the freedom she gets. She is home-schooled so she does not need a dress code like kids her age. I also think that schooling esp in my country limits what hairstyles a person in school has, but that is just the culture in my country, Zimbabwe. It would be unheard of to expose young children to hair dyes and possible hair damage/risks in my culture.
    This is Jada Pinkett-Smith she can afford to do whatever with her hair and so can Willow. So I think just as much as I would rather choose to not raise my child that way, that is what is right for her. She is wealthy enough to deal with the consequences if it turns out to be a bad idea.

  • Donyell

    leave her be, she is a child and will enventually grow into her own. Let her.

  • Donyell

    excuse me, “eventually”.

  • Karle

    It’s just HAIR..and clothes. People place way too much value and thought upon superficial and insignificant things. If she’s growing into a good human being and respects herself and other, then live and let live.

  • Jai

    Wrong. Your body is not your own. It is the Lords.

  • Gina

    I agree 100% with Jada. What Willow or any of us does with our hair is entirely personal choice and harms nobody but ourselves.

    All that matters is that a child grows up to be smart, and make a contribution to the world, and has good manners (e.g., is delightful company). It looks like

  • isolde3


    No 1 curr about your warm blessings, especially when they’re succeeded by illogical gibberish. I find your concern trolling to be both incoherent and unnecessary, if you must know. Believe it or not, I’m trying my best to keep it cute with you because you really do seem ignorant of the wider implications of what you’re saying. Willow Smith is not dressed in a sexually provocative manner. Her face isn’t caked in make-up. So, at its core, it seems you have a problem with her style because she isn’t performing gender (long hair, head bands/hair bows/ barrettes, frilly dresses, bright colors, twin sets, etc.) in a manner sufficient to your liking. That’s precisely why Jada wrote this letter.

  • http://fromthoughtsintowords.blogspot.com/ rkahendi

    On the whole, I have no problem with the way Willow styles her hair. I don’t have any fundamental hangups about short, dyed hair. I think she actually looks beautiful- she would probably look beautiful whatever she did to her hair. Furthermore, it seems relatively harmless as far as “rebellious,” youthful statements go. I don’t think the issue is the way she styles her hair. The question (for her family) is why she styles her hair that way. Is she acting out and looking for attention? Or is she just being creative and expressing her individuality in a fun, harmless way?

    If she’s acting out, then obviously the reason for her unhappiness needs to be addressed. Maybe she does need more boundaries. Maybe something else is going on. If she’s just being creative, then I think she should be left to do her thing.

    I think Jada’s words give us food for thought. But it also seems to me to be a bad idea to keep track of what fans are saying about your appearance or to communicate with them through Twitter or Facebook. Perhaps the whole family is overexposed to the media. It’s hard to be emotionally healthy when you’re always having to factor in how the world will respond to your choices. It seems to me that the celebrities who remain sane are the ones who keep much of their lives private.

  • SH

    They are a family that has removed the “societal” box, stepped out to truly live and love!!! Not much room to do that in a “BOX”!!! Do the damn-thing JADA!!!! Empower your children!

  • AM

    I think that you my friend several hugs!! I am here to give you ALL of them!

  • Kristi

    I think it is awesome that Jada feels secure enough to let willow step out and make some decisions on her own. It is important to let kids embrace thier individuality and make some choices about thier appearance on thier own. I highly doubt that she lets Willow do anything inappropriate/disrespectful. She is just allowing her space to express herself. Willow really seems like a good kid. We often get so wrapped up in rigid ideals of what parenting is (children should be seen and not heard; a child should stay in a child’s place…). We forget that children are just little inexperienced people who have to try things out a few times before they settle into thier own. We are merely here to help guide them through. Not to stifle thier growth.

  • Sweetles

    Jada’s letter was well written. Although she has a right to raise her kids the best way she sees fit, her approach wouldn’t work for my family. It is called child REARING for a reason. I feel you can empower your children and set reasonable boundaries at the same time. Call me what you want, but I feel that the decisions that Willow have been allowed to make at her age, aren’t appropriate, but I am an outsider and I know very little about that family. At the end of the day, I prefer to focus on raising my own beautiful little girls and not concern myself with people who don’t even know I exist.

  • http://gravatar.com/ceecollegegal CeeCee

    Whattt? -_-

  • victoria

    As long as Jada is not abusive nor neglectful, it’s not my business.

    However, my parenting style will be to set boundries concerning dyeing the hair and how my daughter dresses. No, my daughter will not be aloud to wear whatever she pleases.

    And concerning insecurities. I do think too many women have insecurities concerning their body image. But I dont think that allowing children to always do as they please will erase or help improve insecurity. From my experience, how I was raised, having an involved mother who set boundaries and who guided us in the right direction is what provided me with a strong since I self worth.

  • EST. 1986

    I don’t agree or disagree, but what she said makes perfect sense to me.

  • Joy

    Jada is so beautiful. Looks like she’s had a little botox (it’s a Hollywood thing). Jada please don’t go there with botox

  • binks

    Exactly! I really think people are pressing Will and Jada on how they raise their kids is because they aren’t use to black folks stepping out of the box in terms of Smith kids appearance and the parent’s philosophy on raising them. Let these parents raise their kids how they see fit and Willow is going to be the one to watch when she comes of age.

  • isolde3

    I think you have an incessant need to troll little girls and their mothers on women’s websites, as evidenced by the fact that almost everyone of your comments has been obstructed from view, and yet, you continue to spam this space, regardless. Now surely someone as eloquent as you (sentence fragments and all) can “find balance” elsewhere and come up with another way to gratify yourself with one of those typing hands.

    Peace and Blessings

  • Brave

    She cut her hair. She dyed her hair. She wears clothes that cover her body. You hardly ever see Willow Smith on anything. All day everyday you see commercials, videos where there are girls, young ladies and adult women wearing weaves, dyed hair and showing barely legal clothing for tv. Just because Willow and Jada aren’t doing the “norm” they are going to far. You hear nonthing of Willow Smith who has some control of her life. How much have you heard of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie them Kardashian girls. WE need to pay more attention to OUR own kids and let the celebs do there thing.

  • Ummmmm

    Jada has said just as much, she sees her kids as miniature adults not children and allow them to do as they see fit.

  • isolde3

    “Jada has said just as much, she sees her kids as miniature adults not children and allow them to do as they see fit.”

    @Ummmmmm . . . no

    I believe the quote from Jada was

    “I see my children as little PEOPLE, not necessarily people to control. You’ve got to help them develop and become individuals. You have to find out who they are but ENFORCE BOUNDARIES to keep them safe.”


    Willow Smith in W Magazine

    “I can’t do whatever I want,” she explains. “Mommy has to say it’s okay.”

    Read more: http://www.wmagazine.com/celebrities/2010/12/willow_smith#ixzz2DB2Aj9yC

    Aw Sis, you tried it tho . . .


  • Nic

    I love it…I get so tired of hearing black women who obsess over their own hair or the length of their daughter’s hair. People take pictures and put them online and I guess we’re supposed to gush over how long it is. Big deal. You have people who wouldn’t care if their teenager got pregnant but act like somehow cutting her hair is a crime against humanity.
    Willow isn’t her hair and I wish more grown women would stop buying into the idea that having longer hair makes them prettier or better. Say what you will about the Smiths’ style to parenting, I like that Willow is all weaved and hoochified and feels okay having her hair cut off (as well she should). I’m sure they spend a lot more time working on what they put in her head rather than what she wears on it, which is probably why she has so much more sense than a lot of black adult women.

  • Caramel

    Really?!?!?!? Jada dresses like a rocker chick and so does her daughter. I believe someone is influencing her daughter’s taste. Just saying…

  • Bree

    Why are you comparing Willow to Lindsay Lohan or the Kardashians (even the younger Kardashians are older than Willow)? She is a child and they are adults. You shouldn’t compare the two.

  • Katie

    You should listen to Willow’s song I Am Me. She’ll tell you right in it: “Your validation is just not that important to me.” Jada is 100% right on. Women’s bodies and their choices are their own. They do not belong to anybody but themselves.

  • Comeagain

    think that old school style of ‘I’m your parent and I’m greater than you’ doesn’t work. What I establish with my children is a partnership. I’m not necessarily dictating what is happening in their lives.

    Jada Pinkett

  • http://www.ignantintellectual.tumblr.com The Ignant Intellectual

    This is an article that i penned a few months ago. I personally sent it to Jada, Willow, and Will in an attempt to show solidarity. Unfortunately, they havent responded. But in the meantime i would be honored if you would read it!! http://ignantintellectual.tumblr.com/post/27192250346/to-the-adults-tearing-willow-smith-down

  • Jessi Jess

    Are the Smith children really doing things out of the ordinary? Picking out their own clothes, 2 ear piercings, deciding their hairstyles… all seem normal to me. Are hair color choices/cutting ones’ hair crimes against society? Is that the basis for our indictment of their parenting? It seems as though society believes that kids with colored hair will be become drug addicted felons. People think Jada should step in and what…. make her daughter match her clothes??? Ridiculous. They seem to be imparting the most important lessons on their children. It’s actually refreshing.

  • apple

    banksy said it best. “A lot of parents will do anything for their children, except let them be themselves” i commend jada on letting willow be herself and follow her path.. i often wonder what kind of person i would have been had my mother not controlled me and destroyed my happiness.. i probably would be a much more happier, successful person who had hope for tomorrow..

  • bluefacedangel

    I support Jada 100%. When my own daughter wanted to dye her hair pink I said no. In a very respectful way she challenged if I really had something against pink hair, or was I saying “no” because that’s what MY mother would say. She was right. I realized that she is a 15 year old “A” and “B” student. She’s not looking for a job. THIS is exactly the time in her life she could have pink hair without repercussions. I let her dye it, and it was adorable.

  • Perspective

    I agree with Jada – However, I do worry about those who seek to be PROVOCATIVE FOR THE SAKE OF BEING PROVOCATIVE – only to get bent out of shame when others (namely men) do not find it appealing. When you are underage and you shave the sides of your head off and dye your hair pink (BEFORE) the era of boys – AND – you are the daughter of celebrities. Rock On!

    Have fun, do what you want.

    But in the real world – we all know that stuff doesn’t fly. I don’t know many people with money and are successful who aren’t in entertainment who look like Dennis Rodman

    I have come across women who want to promote their individuality, feminism, and climb to the top of a tree and proclaim, “I’M FREE!”

    “Free your ass away from me, because I like a girl that looks like X, Y, or Z,” and then they have the nerve to get pissed off as if I don’t have the RIGHT to have a preference or disqualify a woman based on my own standards.

    You can’t force people to ACCEPT what you are on – even if you feel that THEY are only conforming to the status quo. Its their perogative to be conservative while its your perogative to be RADICAL AND PROVOCATIVE – let and let live. Don’t get angry because they reject you.

    If they accepted you, you wouldn’t be as RADICAL as you think. There wouldn’t even be a word for RADICAL – at that point.

  • Courtney**

    Goddamn dude. Does EVERY post you make have to be a referendum on the evils of feminism and your grievances against “independent women?”

    Topic at hand: Jada Pinkett-Smith advising that she lets her daughter have autonomy over her body and her being because of VERY REAL cultural pressures, messages, and influences that tell females – and FEMALES ONLY – that they must always be accomodating to others’ preferences and strive to make everyone around them comfortable, even at the expense of their own individuality and personal expression.

    General example: random men telling random women and girls on the street to “smile.”

    Random personal anecdote: the last time I saw my step-grandma a few months ago, she was sure to ask if I’m seeing anyone and made sure to tell me that I always need to “behave in a ladylike fashion.”

    Your response: “yeah yeah yeah, but WOMEN ALWAYS SAY THEY WANT INDEPENDENCE AND BLAH BLAH BLAH (…tired same old monologue you make on almost every post).”

    You’re like a white guy who comments on race-based blogs and whines about white oppression/reverse racism/affirmative action instead of actually caring about whatever might being discuss, shutting your damn mouth and opening your damn ears. I can almost predict with 100% accuracy what comments you’ll have to make about any given topic because you always beat the same damn horse. Do you actually care about black women? Do you actually RECOGNIZE and RESPECT the unique ways in which the world views us, and the resulting obstacles we have to face? Or do you just want to make sure that we realize that the concept of “independent black women” is moronic, feminism is the root of all evil and we’re wrong about almost everything? Because I think by now, WE GET IT.

  • Jessica

    Growing up, my mom was severely overweight. She was suffering from undiagnosed PCOS and weight loss was impossible. She projected her feelings on me. Always nitpicking me about my appearance, my food choices and my exercise schedule. Even though I was a healthy, active and beautiful , I was convinced that I was overweight and hideous. I went from 5’6 at 145 lbs, down to 115 (thanks to anorexia) , then ballooned up to 245 When I developed PCOS.

    I know (now) that she didn’t mean to hurt me. She was unaware of what she was doing and like most women trying protect me from her hell. I feel like Mrs. Smith is doing the right thing. As long as her daughter is smart, well behaved and healthy, I don’t see why she can’t do whatever she wants to her hair.

  • Angelica

    I was never a huge fan of Jada. Not for any particular reason, I just didnt get it. But I will say that her quote in this article is fantastic. I have no children, too young to have children for myself, and this is one philosophy that I’ve believed in for years, as a feminist, and I know will be a part of raising my future daughters (if I have any). I love seeing real women actually believing in and practicing this kind of philosophy concerning gender and beauty. It’s very encouraging and inspiring and for someone as high profile and in the public eye as Jada to stand for this speaks volumes about her in this respect, in my opinion. And the way she articulated this is pretty fucking awesome.

    Love it.

Latest Stories

Columbus Short’s Wife Files for Divorce After Alleged Murder-Suicide Threat


33 Telltale Signs You’re Turning Into Your Mother


Reports: Rapper Christ Bearer Severs Penis, Attempts Suicide, But Survives


Girl, Bye! Are Some Terms of Endearment Off Limits to White Women?

More in hair, jada pinkett smith, parenting
5 Relaxed
Five Relaxed Hair Oils

Celeb Hairstyles
Celebrity Hairstyles We Covet