Willow SmithAny mention of Willow Smith seems to eventually devolve into a discussion of what is “acceptable” black parenting. There’s a myth (heavily fed by the media) that the Smiths are doing something incredibly new and unusual, particularly for black parents. Conversations about their parenting never really touch on the fact that their children are already millionaires in their own right with an even larger inheritance ahead. Willow Smith can shave her head one week and wear an ankle-length wig the next because she’s in an environment where it’s safe for her to explore everything that interests her. There is no need for the Smiths to teach their children the same lessons taught to poor black kids in the inner city, or even those facts of life that middle class black kids in the suburbs might need to learn.

Willow’s situation is unique for a young black girl in America, and the very public nature of her life has a lot to do with the responses to her fashion choices. Those who take issue with lack of boundaries set on her appearance are really reacting to the world in which walking while black can be an invitation for harassment, assault, or death. They live in communities rife with gang violence, police brutality, and institutional racism that would make it impossible for them to have green hair and be gainfully employed. In their minds, the Smiths are allowing Willow to develop habits that could have long-term consequences, and they cannot imagine how these choices could be a good idea.

But this discussion goes beyond the privileged world she lives in, and into those other communities full of kids that are navigating life without privilege. Why aren’t we more concerned that kids in the inner city can’t express themselves safely? Why aren’t we discussing the prejudices that make people afraid for Willow? In every conversation about whether or not her parents should “let” her be herself from her hair color to her attire, there seems to be a resistance to recognizing that Willow is enjoying the freedom that comes with affluence and the relative safety that it creates. When do we discuss the jealous tone of some of the criticism? Or the homophobic thread that seems to work its way into any discussion if it goes on long enough?

For the American black community, respectability politics are rooted in a history that shows us that black people who step outside the lines set by society can end up dead. There is a long well-documented history of individuals being killed, and whole communities being destroyed for being too successful. Yet, America is a country that prides itself on being built by risk takers. Access to the American Dream (definitely something the Smiths are living), requires seekers to go against the grain, to be creative, and relentless in their pursuit of happiness. So how does a modern parent reconcile history like Rosewood, the Red Summer of 1919, and the violence that punctuated the Civil Rights Movement with that dream? How do they prepare their children for a world where institutional racism can still equal death, albeit a death that is more likely to occur at the hands of the police, or someone who claims to be standing their ground?

image

Me in the 8th grade.

When discussing alternative parenting styles, I have a tendency to contrast the way I am raising my children with the way that I was raised by my grandmother. She was born in 1924, and watched the Civil Rights Movement play out in the same places where her brother was lynched for the crime of being uppity. Her parenting style was rough, but it had to be, as she spent 30 years trying to make sure her family members could survive in Jim Crow America.

We butted heads constantly when I was a teenager, because my fondness for male friends (many of them white) and miniskirts struck her as terrible ideas. I complained about her being old fashioned, but to some extent, even in the 1990s, she was correct about the risks I was taking. She was concerned about me being a young lady because she believed that would protect me from predators. I was concerned with navigating streets where my tomboy toughness made me less of a target.

Does that mean that she was doing the wrong thing? No. There is no correct way to parent; all anyone can do is know the child they love and do their best by them. My sons are being raised in the way I wish I had been reared; from the outside it may appear that I’m spoiling them. I’m not. I’m trying to prepare them for a life that will be drastically different from mine. My grandmother faced a similar challenge. After all, I was a child trying to become independent almost 30 years after the end of segregation. She knew how to respond when I was being harassed by a cop on my walk to school, but she had no frame of reference for a girl with wild clothes and wilder ideas who wanted things it would have been dangerous for her to pursue in the 1940s, or for her children to chase in the 1960s.

So why rush to judge the Smiths for knowing their kids and their situation better than any outsider? Yes, in some neighborhoods Willow Smith would be at risk simply for existing in public as a young black woman, much less one who doesn’t conform to the expectations of outsiders. But she doesn’t live in those neighborhoods. In fact, as many of her supporters will tell you, she’s living the way we wish everyone could live, and frankly that should be the focus of these conversations.

Imagine an America where parents of color are free to let their children explore without having to worry that standing out is more dangerous than blending in. Not every parent will raise their children the way the Smiths are raising Willow, but an America where communities aren’t under attack would still be a better place to grow up.

Any discussion of parenting is a discussion of the future, and at some point we have to stop repeating the mistakes of the past and focus on solutions for the present. There are millions of girls watching Willow, and how many of them will do great things if given half the chance? Even if they have to work in the communities where Willow will never have to go, at least they have hope of being themselves and being rewarded for it. Contrary to popular opinion, no one is being raised by the Huxtables or by Madea — in fact many parents are doing their best to give their kids space to develop while keeping them safe, which requires a flexibility that is rarely recognized.

Stop the gender policing and the concern trolling over whether or not good parenting is telling a child how to wear their hair, and talk about why so many people who aren’t concerned for her well-being feel free to attack her for existing. Talk about why the media narratives that fail to depict the diversity of parenting styles in the black community can harm children of color, and in turn their communities. Talk about anything useful, but stop pretending that Willow Smith’s life is anyone else’s business.

 

XOJane

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more  on XOJane! 

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    The entire family are celebrities unfortunately that makes them fair game for public scrutiny. That includes the girl. You can be yourself all you want and raise your children to be that way, but that doesn’t mean society as a whole has to accept you or your kids. And as long as they choose to be famous the public has the right to critique them by societal standards. As for letting kids be kids this writer and many more would be the first to jump against the the free expression of kids today, which includes sagging pants, violent music, distaste for books, appetite for everything electronic, sexting, and gangs. Those are just kids expressing themselves.

  • OMG

    I understand that Jada wants her daughter to express herself and all of that stuff but if I had a daughter that age, I wouldn’t allow her to dress like that or wear her hair like that. I believe in creativity and freedom of expression but I think at 9 years old, there should be limits to that expression. If my daughter wanted to wear makeup at 8 years old, I would be against that because that’s too young. Now if she’s in her teens then I’ll be more open to some of it depending on what it is.

  • JaeBee

    ITA, especially if that child may not know anything about what their “expression” truly means. I think about the time Willow decided to be “trendy” by sporting a tongue ring. Sure it was fake, but given the meaning behind tongue rings I don’t think that was a particular form of expression her mother should have allowed her to sport.

  • Keke

    How people choose to raise their kids is really not anybody’s business. Unless there is a strict school policy about clothing she isn’t hurting anyone.

    Underlying the willow debate is black identity race and class. People have an issue with her because she is challenging the notion of what it means to be black. Some of it is genuine fear but it really just that.

    See black people are allowed to be one thing while whites can be many and to protect themselves tblack try to not bring attention to themselves. But there is this strange thing amongst blacks about somewhat accepting the identities that have been placed on us even if they have negative implications as long as we make it our own. It is sort of the logic behind the n-word. Blacks can call each other that and it’s not sn insult because it a recognition of our shared experience and suffering and thus becomes a term of solidarity. And there is comfort in that solidarity like you are less alone and in it together. We do genuinely fear when a black person steps out of the box because it can have bad consequences but part of it is fear for our own notion of ourselves.

    It’s why when blacks see an educated well spoken black person we think they are acting white. Part of it is fear that they are fooling themselves that they can be like white people. Also fear and anger that they had the guts to challenge the norm forcing us to reevaluate ourselves and why we are not doing that. And what starts out as strategically protecting ourselves becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Black people don’t do this etc.

    Willow incites fear and anger because she isn’t defined by being just black. She cuts her hair because she is willow and not trying to be a white girl. She skateboard because she is she wants to not because she is trying to be a white boy. She manages to be herself and black and this article is right to say the critsm is misplaced because it should be about why can’t more black kids be able to do this.

    And yes being wealthy oes give her the environment to do this but let’s not take this away fom her. It’s one factor. She could be rich and still not have the personality, the parental support or quite frankly the guts to be herself. Just like there are loads of under privileged black kids who could easily listen to all the detractors and their environment and conform. Yes money makes it easier but she is still choosing to be herself in this world.

    People need o give will and jada the benefit of the doubt too that they know what they are doing. Will smith is a black guy that has managed to rise to the top of Hollywood by deliberately crafting an image that isn’t based on his race while not negating it. In his movies he isn’t the token negro etc. he is just a guy that happens to be black. He learnt to speak to both white and black audiences which was the beauty of the Fresh Prince. He learnt early on from giving kids the chance to be creative when his dad gave him a year to make music work for him and in that year got the first Grammy for Rap and didn’t go to MIT for engineering where he would have studied to become an astronaut. Have you heard Willow speak? She is freaking eloquent for her age! Her parents are smart. I think they know what they are doing. All of this is guided freedom.

    I think what they are trying to do us give their kids things that they didn’t have easily growing up. Jada is artistic and so is Will. They had their share of pressures growing up to no do that. Will should have gone to MIT a much safer traditional route. He stuck with what he wanted and his dad gave him the freedom and restriction of one year to do it. Jada is teaching Willow how to define herself as a young black girl with famous parents and deal with the consequences at what age 11. Like seriously grown people worldwide are writing about her for being a kid. Talk about pressure. Also Jada is teaching her to be a confident girl especially a black girl when people tell you who you are. You don’t think Jada got that growing up and saw guts like her die from listening to other peoples opinions. That is all this and at the end of the day who is she harming? No one. I know black women are crazy about hair but it’s haIr.

    We should be praising the smiths Obamas and jz for creating challenging notion of black. Now it is black to be educated well spoken a business mogul and whatever you wanna be and work to make that a norm of black identity instead of tearing it down ehen someone else does it

    “don’t ever let anybody tell you there is one thing you can’t do, not even me. When people can’t do something themselves,they wanna tell you can’t do it. If you want something go get it. Period”.- will smith

    I know he got it from his movie but it was inspired by his dad advice. And they are passing it on to Willow. I think it sums up people’s reaction to her. Those can’t do tear others down. Period.

  • AM

    Praise JAY Z?!

    The same one who raps. “I rape and pillage your village, women and children” LAWD!

    He has NOT challenged any notion of blackness,at all. if anything he has sold out and fed right into the stereotype. Shoot me.

  • Anthony

    My only hope is that the Smiths give their kids a solid foundation because there is guarantee that life will turn out as well for them as it has for their parents.

  • Pseudonym

    I saw Willow Smith speak in an interview with Oprah a few years back. I have no opinion on her physical appearance, but it did strike a chord with me that she expressed doing poorly in school bc she was putting too much energy into pop stardom. She expressed feeling embarrassed at school bc she wasn’t able to read and perform other tasks at the level of her peers. THAT’s where the “Will and Jada” parenting method drew a side-eye from me. It just doesn’t make sense to me that two rich celebrities can’t equip their child with the educational tools that she needs tone successful. If Willow stays in show business or decides to live off her parents’ money, perhaps she won’t need to use her education (Though it pays to be able to read, analyze, and comprehend your contracts on your own.), but she should at least have the option to be competitive enough for a top university or challenging career if she ever decides to go that route. Also, it just feeds that mentality that all black kids can grow up to do it play music or sports.

    Hearing her sound embarrassed and express shame and anxiety about poor reading skills while sitting near her two rich parents who were defending her right to shave her head made me think they’ve all got their priorities out of order. BUT, of course that is their life and child and not mine.

  • TT

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • The Revolution is going to be televised!!!!!!!!!

    Well, I just want to say that if we “buy Black” and keep the money in our communities, more young girls can be like Willow. We could all do our thing and not worry about what other groups think of us. Because for one, we would eliminate the need to beg for jobs no one wants to give us anyway, and we would be able to wear our hair and clothes however we want, expressing our culture without fear of losing our employment! We would no longer have to be one person outside and someone else behind closed doors. You get what I am saying. Let’s take back our power and put it where it belongs going forward!!!!!!!! Please, because it is only going to get worse!!!!!

  • olar

    I really like both jada and will and feel that they probably taken alot of thought into how they bring up their children and many of the critism at the smiths maybe judgemental, however i believe all children rich and poor are everyone concern. The dangers in life affects all of us. The rich and famous are not extempt from abuse, explotation, and drugs for example. If anything they are more open to it. So all children need to be protected. Not to say that Willow is heading down this path but when a child is doing things at age nine what other children doing at teenage then what are they going to be doing when they reach teenage to express themselves. Isnt there a case sometimes of been there and done that i need a greater high.

  • ChillyRoad

    Couldnt agree more. Just like this kid be the child of multimillionaires. They were never going to have a “normal life.” She has two parents who love her to bits and money to boot.

  • binks

    Boom! couldn’t have said it better myself. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Willow maybe because I grew up with a friend who dressed, acted and was sort of raise like Willow and Zoe Kravitz without the spotlight so I never got the fuss!

  • Eme

    But you have to ask yourself, where did this come from? If you look at old photographs of Willow Smith, she looked like a little black debutante. She dressed in a traditionally feminine manner (dresses/skirts, long braids, cute hate, etc). It wasn’t until she released her first single that she became this skater-punk with a shaved head. If this is who she truly is, her previous photographs would reflect that because, really, how different is the mindset of a 7/8 year-old from that of 9/10 year-old? How many children do you know abruptly abandon one form of expression for another?

    I have a healthy skepticism for image in Hollywood. Guile and deception, smoke and mirrors is the rule of the day in Hollywood, and Willow Smith, IMO, is no exception. I am not saying this because she is a girl or Black. She has two famous multi-millionaire parents who are using their clout to provide a career for their child. They have expended an enormous amount of resources to create an image that would get people talking, and it worked. We bought it hook, line, and sinker.

    It isn’t a coincidence that Willow started dressing this way at the time that she released her first single. This is all for the creation, development, and maintenance of that little girl’s career, make no mistake about that. It baffles me that people are jumping to her parents’ defense. They are deliberately creating controversial image of Willow so that she can remain relevant.

    Ok, I’m done now :)

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    And I do remember on Oprah that Willow said it was her _mother’s_ idea for her to shave her head, not hers.

  • mEE

    I get where the author is coming from but I think she puts too much emphasis on the comments on a blog site. you have to realize that on certain sites, even this one, there’s a certain amount of trolling that occurs when it comes to controversial figures. I guess then maybe the argument is why is Willow controversial. it’s because ANYTHING outside of the mainstream is. the way Willow chooses to dress or wear her hair is outside of the mainstream for any American child, black or white.

    sure we technically have no business commenting on the style choices of a 9yo or parenting choices of Will and Jada…but really we have no business commenting on anything that doesn’t concern us, whether that be Kim & Kanye’s future baby or this Sisterhood show I’m currently smh at. I can understand the apprehension when a child is involved, but as someone stated above, when you’re in the public eye, you open yourself up to that kind of scrutiny.

  • isolde3

    “But you have to ask yourself, where did this come from? If you look at old photographs of Willow Smith, she looked like a little black debutante. She dressed in a traditionally feminine manner (dresses/skirts, long braids, cute hate, etc). It wasn’t until she released her first single that she became this skater-punk with a shaved head. If this is who she truly is, her previous photographs would reflect that because, really, how different is the mindset of a 7/8 year-old from that of 9/10 year-old?”

    @Eme

    According to whom, you? Are you really questioning the “authenticity” of this child because she’s not rocking the same clothes and hairstyles she was when she was 7? The only reason why her style is controversial is because you and her critics have deemed it so.There’s nothing sexually precocious or provocative about her clothing. So, you can’t claim that she looks like some kind of Lolita. For all you know, Willow’s always used a stylist, even when she was 7/8. Only after her most recent transition were people suddenly concerned about her image. So, let’s talk about why people like you are really mad. You’re upset because she isn’t performing gender sufficiently enough to your taste, the short dyed hair, the baggy button downs, the stone washed, boyish skinny jeans. . . Yeah, she doesn’t look like “a little black debutant”anymore, which is what you think a girl her age should look like.

  • Eme

    Isolde3

    Did you read my comment at all? No where did I state that her clothing was sexually precocious or provocative. No where did I state that she SHOULD look like a little black debutante. This has nothing to do with her Blackness or her femininity.

    I am all for self-expression and not allowing oppressive societal standards from preventing freedom of self-expression. I am simply questioning the authenticity of this radical change. There is nothing exceptional about her appearance. Walk the streets in any major city and you would be tripping over woman and teens who look like her, of all races. The controversy derives from the fact that she is a child whose parents shined a hot, white spotlight on her at a young age.

    Lets not feign ignorance about how Hollywood works. Image is EVERYTHING. Many artists deliberately do things against the grain for the sole purpose of gaining attention. Lady Gaga in the meat dress, Nicki Minaj in everything she wears, Katy Perry with candy-colored hair. Most people can agree that that is their persona, is part of the package that is those artists. You seem upset that I implied that Will and Jada are simply following suit with Willow.

    What I find unsettling is the possibility that someone is superimposing an identity onto someone so young then thrusting her into a spotlight. As poised, eloquent, and confident as she may seem, she is still a child. This article says that we should not criticize Will and Jada for how they are raising Willow. I am saying that we shouldn’t rush to defend them. We have seen what Hollywood does to child stars.

    This website routinely speculates about the lives of celebrities, but the closing sentence for this article curtly tells us to mind our business…about a celebrity.

  • Medusa

    I have to say I disagree with the idea that people’s discussion of Willow is about “concern” for her. They want to control her body and dominate her, the way they want to do with all black women; really all women. Seriously, how is her style of dressing “inappropriate” for someone her age? Is she dressed in a miniskirt with a visible thong and lucite heels? How is her hair inappropriate for someone her age? And how the fuck is it putting her in danger? She doesn’t dress revealingly, she just wears cool clothes and I fail to see how any black girl who dresses like that is putting learning to put herself in danger, regardless of whether she’s a rich Hollywood multimillionaire, or a poor girl from Compton. How exactly is a girl or a woman supposed to dress and wear her hair in order to not be a target? Oh, that’s right, there is no way, because no matter what we do, it’s always our fault if we’re on the receiving end of harassment or assault, even if we’re in a a baggy sweatshirt and jeans or if we’re in a 3-piece suit or if we’re in a pair of six-inch heels and a strapless mini-dress. I’m not even remotely concerned that Willow is sending a bad message to other kids by shaving part of her head or wearing a wig for fun (sometimes). I think the bad message is that black women, black men, any women are inviting hostility just by existing the way we were born.

    Basically what Keke said but without the “Praise Jay-Z” nonsense cuz he is full of some misogyny for real.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rochee.jeffrey Arghh

    I agree with you that Willow is in the spotlight, so she will face far more scrutiny than other children. But, I will say that there are black celebs with kids who are inarticulate and will never do anything productive with their lives, and they don’t receive the same level of scrutiny.

    I honestly feel that a lot of the criticisms of Willow are rooted in homophobia. Although I do agree that there are some choices that the Smiths have made regarding their children that I don’t always agree with. I find it troubling that so many comments about Willow are along the lines of “Oh, she’s going to be a lesbian”, or “her parents better be careful or they’ll turn her into a lesbian”. And who wants that? Isn’t being gay the worst possible thing in the world? *sarcasm*

    Let’s consider the reality that there are young black girls who wear braid extensions to make their hair longer and sometimes even weaves or clip ons – that does not bother us – but if a girl cuts her hair short, we are up in arms. I am confused by that. Why is that so problematic? Willow wears crazy clothes. So? It is no different that a lot of white parents allowing their kids to wear any combination of costumes when they leave the house. And it is no different than any number of black parents who allow their sons to dress like miniature thugs.

    The reality is that girls and women who choose to express themselves or dress in a way that is counter to what is considered traditionally feminine, threatens our sensibilities. Boys who dress in a way that is counter to what is masculine, inspire the same scrutiny. Willow is the female manifestation fo that prejudice.

    And the kind of expression you described in your last paragraph are all destructive. Sagging pants puts young black men and boys at risk for being mistaken for a thug and getting gunned down like Trayvon, distate for books = lack of education, violent music = desensitization of violence throughout our community. Wearing leopard-print pants and shaving your head = a young girl experimenting with her appearance – it’s innocuous.

  • Treece

    I don’t find anything wrong with Willow’s style and I think Will and Jada are doing a darn good job raising an eloquent, intelligent, “head on her shoulders” daughter. She is definitely given the space and opportunity to express herself freely and I don’t think its inappropriate at all. she doesn’t wear clothes that are sexually suggestive or that carry violent messages. so what she wanted to shave her head? its just hair, it grows back.

    I think the black public’s response to Willow has more to do with Black people’s sense that children who are free to express themselves in the way they dress are somehow being disrespectful. We sometimes have very rigid ideas of what a “good kid” looks or acts like. We can’t imagine one of our own “letting” her daughter dress so out-of-the-box or dye her hair the colors of the rainbow. Those forms of expression are seen as too grown….yet, some of us ignore when our daughters are doing the really grown stuff (like having sex at 12, being disrespectful to teachers at school, etc.). Let kids be kids. Part of being an adolescent is exploring and experimenting with identity and styles. Go ahead and let them try new things. Of course we want them to be safe, but I don’t think wearing shoes that look like space boots and dying your hair pink with blue extensions is hurting anyone….

  • http://www.facebook.com/rochee.jeffrey Arghh

    I agree with you that Willow is in the spotlight, so she will face far more scrutiny than other children. But, I will say that there are black celebs with kids who are inarticulate and will never do anything productive with their lives, and they don’t receive the same level of scrutiny.

    I honestly feel that a lot of the criticisms of Willow are rooted in homophobia. Although I do agree that there are some choices that the Smiths have made regarding their children that I don’t always agree with. I find it troubling that so many comments about Willow are along the lines of “Oh, she’s going to be a lesbian”, or “her parents better be careful or they’ll turn her into a lesbian”. And who wants that? Isn’t being gay the worst possible thing in the world? *sarcasm*

    Let’s consider the reality that there are young black girls who wear braid extensions to make their hair longer and sometimes even weaves or clip ons – that does not bother us – but if a girl cuts her hair short, we are up in arms. I am confused by that. Why is that so problematic? Willow wears crazy clothes. So? It is no different that a lot of white parents allowing their kids to wear any combination of costumes when they leave the house. And it is no different than any number of black parents who allow their sons to dress like miniature thugs.

    The reality is that girls and women who choose to express themselves or dress in a way that is counter to what is considered traditionally feminine, threatens our sensibilities. Boys who dress in a way that is counter to what is masculine, inspire the same scrutiny. Willow is the female manifestation fo that prejudice.

    And the kind of expression you described in your last paragraph are all destructive. Sagging pants puts young black men and boys at risk for being mistaken for a thug and getting gunned down like Trayvon, distate for books = lack of education, violent music = desensitization of violence throughout our community. Wearing leopard-print pants and shaving your head = a young girl experimenting with her appearance – it’s innocuous.

  • I got sense!

    How is cutting and dying your hair a high? And if it is I’d take that over drugs and sex any day. Sorry but your comparison is exactly what the author is talking about and it seems that willow just doesn’t fit into some black people’s idea of how a black girl should dress and wear her hair. She doesn’t cuss, doesn’t post provocative pics, wear provocative clothes, flip the bird in her pics nothing. Can anybody tell me of one thing that she has done that was actually bad and not just things you don’t like? Anybody?

  • I got sense!

    If you were a certified ECE teacher or taken a few child and adolescent psychology classes you would know there is a world of difference between 7-8 & 9-10. The other thing is that you don’t know how she dressed at home. You are making nothing but assumptions. Also, jada said (watched her in a vid) that willow begged to get her hair cut b/c she but especially Will was adamantly against it. They had the exact same feelings that most of the critics do but realized that was their problem not willows. Again this is what jada actually said not just what I think. No different from how jada used to dress or Lisa bonet. Ain’t nothing new and if people spent just as much time worrying about the kids that actually ARE doing something inappropriate/bad (like so many young black kids are evident by the teen pregnancy, high school drop out, and incarceration rates) then we would have a better community but when it comes to those kids that we ACTUALLY see on a regular basis we are to busy to help or my favorite “them ain’t my kids”.

  • Pseudonym

    (Sorry for all the typos. Autocorrect dependence FAIL!)

  • Ange B

    I agree with the author. Different lifestyle, different parenting experiences and situations given the high profile life of the Smith family. As the daughter of wealthy parents who frankly would not have to work ever she has the opportunity to be and learn about herself in a creative expressive way that just happens to be public sometimes. Willow is still a child and frankly I think we can all think of things we were into when we were younger and no longer hold the same interest now that we are older.

  • B

    Did someone break into Willow’s personal dairy? No, she and her parents put this stuff out for public fodder. What people don’t want to recognize is Willow is being sold as a packaged product to young girls.
    If an 11 year old black girl from around the way had posted a twitter pic of herself in a club on a stripped pole we would have 1000 “what’s wrong with black parents”? So how come it’s Lena from Different World and the guy from MIB movies it’s acceptable? Will and Jada can raise their children anyway they please however when they are trying to “sell” her as a product to kids it’s a problem. It’s wasn’t the public who put Willow on a YouTube show crying and saying if she could change anything about her life it would not to be famous, it was Jada. It wasn’t the public who told the child if you weren’t famous you could not help people…. which is a lie. It wasn’t the public who has Willow sending out this depressing tweets. It wasn’t the public who told Willow to say she barely goes to school. All these things would be unacceptable for regular run of the mill parents.
    As I said, when you try to market a child to other children it’s not longer just your business.

  • http://cutekinks.blogspot.com CuteKinks

    I don’t see how we (the public) are taking how this child dresses and using it to make assumptions about how Will and Jada parent as a whole. Let me just comment on her fashion and hair style choices. If you can’t dress crazy and dye your hair all kinds of colors at 12 years old, then when can you? Nothing about the way this little girl dresses is inappropriate. It may be tacky, “weird”, and “out there” but surely not inappropriate and I think that’s all that matters. Kudos to her for stepping outside the box, even if part of it is just an “image” used to sell her music. How many 12 year old girls want to look exactly like their peers? Most and I think that’s a shame.

  • isolde3

    @Arghh

    Nicely parsed, especially the last paragraph

  • Get Free

    You can’t put bearings on one persons self expression. If its her, or if its not her. Hell, I’m 24 and it took a lot of growth and art achool for my masters, to start becoming the person I wanted to be and dress like.

    She’s ahead of the curve where black kids tend to figure out what path they want to go in life.

    Black expression is so dictated by our peers that you have to envy them for having the ability to let their kids be who they want to be.

    We can’t get free that way, we can’t dream that way. “White kids get to wear whatever hat they want / When it comes to black kids one size fits all -Donald Glover.”

    Willow aint hurting nobody, and most parents don’t k ow how to allow their children to express themselves because the parents were too cowardice to express themselves.

    - Get Free

  • http://facebook/tearist Mary Phillips

    Willa is being herself. Why box her into a world of conforming? Individualization is what makes people productive and creative. What do you mean by implying she can’t be herself? Shame on you. We live in a world where kids are refusing to be what we want them to be. Black kids have been told for years to keep quiet, don’t do this and don’t do that for the sake of the race. Are you kidding me? This is a different world from yours and your grandmother’s. Parents rear children, not society. Willa is not responsible for what anybody else wears. Parents are the ones who must step forward and create standards, not an eleven year old child.

  • http://gravatar.com/stardancer2008 stardancer2008

    As for the comment that Jada and Will are selling Willow as a packaged product to young girls; if that is indeed the case, just don’t buy it! No one is forcing you to raise your daughter the way the Smiths are raising theirs. You do not have to buy everything that is offered to you. What the Smiths are dong is good for their business; do what is good for yours.

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

    You kind of have a point. I am on board with the critique contained in the above article. But I also think that much of Willow’s private business is out in the public domain because of deliberate choices made by her and her parents to put the information out there.

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

    I think you missed the point of that comment. The person who made it wasn’t lamenting about being forced to consume a product. He or she was pointing out that Willow and her parents actually put her personal information in the public domain, then act surprised when people discuss it. If you put information in the public domain, it will be dissected and interpreted every which way, and many of the comments will not be positive or supportive. If they don’t know that after dealing with life in the public eye for over a decade, then they are in the wrong business.

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