Black Hair Rule #1

Hi Meltingpot Readers,


Babygirl with messy hair

Now you know you’ve never seen a photo of my kids here on this blog, and you never will. Some things — not a lot, but some — remain sacred. But I can’t do justice to this post without sharing a shot of Babygirl. That’s her up above in the photo.

Well, at least the top one-third of her. What I want you to get a look at is her unruly hair that is clearly a hot mess and in her way. So, part of the reason her hair a hot mess is because she just ran strained pears through it and before that, she’d been outside sweating, so sweat + pears = hot mess. But the other reason Babygirl’s hair is mildly problematic is that it’s always in her face. I try to put it up in ponytails, but Babygirl has hair like chicken feathers. It’s soft and thin and won’t hold a style for more than two minutes. El esposo keeps begging me to let him at least trim her bangs, but he knows I’m going to say no, because everybody knows that Black hair rule #1 is that you never, ever, ever cut a Black baby’s hair before she turns one! That’s like biblical law. Like 100-years-of-bad-luck-or-else law.

I did an unofficial survey of random Black women and they all confirmed that you don’t cut a Black baby’s hair before age one. When I asked why, the reasons varied and included:

“I don’t know, you just don’t do it.”

“If you cut it, their hair will never grow.”

“Cutting a baby’s hair is just bad luck. For the baby and the mother.”

“I’m not sure exactly, but I know it has something to do with the baby’s skull not being fully hardened.”

And as Babygirl’s godmother said,  “You might just invite bad spirits if you touch her hair too soon.”

Okay then.

The way I look at it, Babygirl has less than two months before we can trim some of those locks so she can actually see. I think she’ll survive. I don’t know if I actually believe the legends, but it’s a tradition I’ve followed with my boys and so I’m going to keep it up, for tradition’s sake. We have so few of those left anyway. And while I’m 99 percent sure that bad spirits have better things to do than hunt us down because of an early hair cut, that one percent would probably keep me up at night.

What do you think, dear readers? Have you heard that you should never cut a baby’s hair before age one? Is this really only a Black thing? What are the consequences you’ve heard for early cutters? And I know Black people can’t be the only ones with wacky traditions around a child’s first year of life. Let’s hear yours.


You know I’m listening.



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