Lifestyle

A Lesson in Style and Daddy/Daughter Bonding

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When my sisters and I were children, in our household, it was understood that all hair and wardrobe decisions were immediately deferred to my mother for approval. Styling our hair was a particularly arduous challenge for my mother, because prior to having children, the extent of styling knowledge was limited to manipulating her own wavy to curly textured hair. It was only after having three naturally curly daughters, that she realized the full extent of nature’s curly diversity.

Every morning, my mother awoke at the crack of dawn to organize her arsenal of hair styling products and tools, in anticipation of taming our naturally curly manes. Beyond selecting a hair bow, we were rarely given any say on our preferred style for the day. She had a designated signature look for each one of us, and compromising her routine with too many demands and opinions often resulted in mild punishment, usually losing any and all bow picking privileges. I was so sick of wearing the same hairstyle to school, every single day. Though unable to eloquently articulate my thoughts on this issue, my little kid brain definitely resented my mother’s unwillingness to creatively experiment with my hair- that is, until the first time she went out of town for a week, leaving us in the care of our father.

I remember initially feeling excited about her exodus. The absence of the hairdo dictator meant I would be free to propel all my stifled creative energy into the fantasy, fashion forward hairstyle I had always wanted (which was pretty much anything, other than a low ponytail with a oversized hair ribbon). Plus, I knew Daddy was a pushover and I assumed he would spend the week spoiling us as he always did, during his brief babysitting sessions.

But Mama was no fool. Fully aware of Dad’s lax approach to parenting, she spent an entire afternoon performing live hair styling demos, on each of us. She even composed a meticulous childcare manual, specifically tailored to each of our needs, including detailed, handwritten tutorials for styling our hair, as exhibited in the demos. Of course, Dad did not pay attention during any of Mom’s demonstrations, and lost the manual within hours of her departure.Clearly, the week was not a total disaster without my mother’s manual, as I’m still here to tell the tale, but mornings without Mom’s styling expertise were absolutely horrible. Our poor father was totally clueless about brushing our hair.

Standing before my mother’s bathroom mirror, I witnessed my father’s poor attempt to suppress any signs of anxiety fueled panic, as he unravelled my entangled hair elastic. I flinched and shrieked as his giant, gruff man hands aggressively combed through my delicate curls, and I watched as the color drained from my father’s face, with every loop made around my curly, voluminous ponytail. He yanked and pulled a prickly paddle brush through my dry, tangled curls, and I screamed and cried at the top of my lungs, as tufts of broken hair fluttered to the floor. Unable to tolerate the high-pitched wailing of little girls, our dad would eventually wave the white flag, dropping the brush in the sink. But he wasn’t done yet! Determined to prove to my mother that he could take care of us, without being micromanaged by a manual written on infantile, brightly colored construction paper, he began lathering excessive amounts of EVERY product sitting in my mother’s medicine cabinet. By this point, I could care less about how I looked or even choosing a bow; I just wanted him to quit trying to smooth down my hair with toothpaste and to never go near a hair brush again.

However, my wish did come true that week. I never went to school with the same style, twice in a row- some days I looked Rick James, other days I looked like a long lost member of Sly and the Family Stone.

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Source: slystonemusic.tumblr.com

At least my father’s time as the family appointed stylist was only temporary. When Miko and Titi were children, their father was primarily responsible for tending to their hair.

“Typically, it was Daddy who took on the hair and wardrobe job in the mornings. It fell on him to get Titi and I ready for daycare- this big man with big hands who just didn’t have the skills. He used to pick out our kinks with a metal pick that had a wooden handle, and it hurt like hell when he pulled it through our hair, stinging our tender scalps. […] While he was busy with my sister, I used to try to beat him to it, rushing to the bathroom to wet and grease down my hair, and pull it into two pigtails to avoid his torture- hence my early interest in hairstyling.”

— From Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch—Naturally.

The silver lining of this childhood experience is it helped inspire Miko and Titi to pursue careers in the beauty and hair care industry, ultimately putting them on the path to discovering the vast collection of curl styling solutions Miss Jessie’s currently has to offer. Thanks to Miss Jessie’s, dads no longer have to struggle or be intimidated by styling curly hair, because the moisturizing and detangling properties of the products make managing curly manes a breeze.

Source: Miss Jessie’s

Though Miss Jessie’s certainly can simplify the styling process, I’ve noticed this fatherly frustration and fear surrounding styling their daughter’s hair, is not exclusive to dads of curly haired cuties. Most fathers in general seem intimidated by the notion of  styling their daughter’s hair, and this apprehension has nothing to do with hair texture, but more so with lack of experience and fear of the unknown. Just like my mother’s styling experience was limited to only dealing with her own hair texture before my sisters and I were born, most men’s only frame of reference for styling hair, comes from their own personal grooming experiences. A grown man’s grooming routine is obviously going to deviate greatly from an adolescent girl’s styling rituals. Even dads donning long hair may understand how to eliminate tangles with minimal pain, but that does not mean they also possess an innate ability to weave up a Frozen inspired “Queen Elsa” braid. Hair styling is a skill and like all other skills worth having, it requires practice and focus.

I recently read about a Denver, Colorado hair salon that hosted a special event, specifically organized to educate fathers on how to style and braid their daughter’s hair. Aptly named Beer and Braids, Envouge Salon invited fathers and daughters to come together for an evening of brewskies, professionally led step-by-step hair braiding and styling tutorials, and fun. Using their daughters as models, dads were challenged to learn and execute three different hairstyles, in one hour. Afterwards, the participating little kiddles paraded their daddy designed ‘doos in a mini fashion show, which was judged by the salon’s stylists. The father voted with the best styling skills was then awarded a six-pack of beer.

Envouge Salon owner, Calli Hueble-Bodilis, described the success of the event, to FOX31 Denver reporters, “It’s so special. It’s way more successful than I ever thought it would be. Clients love it. Moms love it, dads love it. And it’s such a special memory for the daughters.”

This evening not only taught fathers how to master the delicate art of creating easy, “OUCH!” free hairstyles, fit for a princess, but this 101 crash course in creative hair styling was an opportunity for fathers and daughters to experience quality daddy/daughter bonding time. The happy memories from this event are sure to stay with these daddies and daughters, for the rest of their lives.

So to all you dapper daddies who doubt your styling abilities, there is still hope for you to learn something new! And even if you never master a fishtail or an intricate, “Queen Elsa” inspired braid, know that your daughters will always look up to you and love you.

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Branch, Miko, and Titi Branch. Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch—Naturally (New York: Amistad, an Imprint of HarperCollins, 2015), 11-12.

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