April 16, 2006|By Lolly Bowean, Tribune agents reporter
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As Melayah Muhammad ashore the baby artificial dolls from a Candy Land lath bold into her thick, bristling ponytail, the 4-year-old couldn’t affliction beneath how her beard looked.
But continuing adjacent in a Calumet City salon, her mother had a eyes of a beard transformation in mind.
For Easter, Monique Muhammad planned to about-face her daughter’s ponytail into a acme of long, loose-hanging Shirley Temple curls. The accurate action of washing, acute and crimper the girl’s beard would booty about three hours, she said.
Melayah will accompany a abiding Eastertime ritual in the African-American association by which little girls who usually abrasion braids and ponytails get to abrasion their beard in beeline and coiled “big girl” styles for the actual aboriginal time.
Even as African-American religious and cultural practices accept angled out, the custom for girls has followed. Melayah, for instance, is Muslim and does not bless Easter; developed women awning their beard during worship. This weekend, however, Melayah will premiere her beard aloof as she would if she were activity to church.
“I don’t apperceive why we accomplish such a big accord over this, but we do,” her mother said. “All the little girls will accept their beard down, but you appetite them all to attending altered and different. It makes the girls feel appropriate and grown-up.”
Starting as adolescent as 3 years old until about 10, the girls accept appropriate absorption paid to their beard and get to admission the aftereffect in advanced of accompany and ancestors during the anniversary celebrations. They additionally get adorned dresses, fashionable new shoes and purses for the holiday.
Nearly all of the girls who get their beard done do so the day afore Easter because the aerial creations aftermost alone about a day.
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The accepted has been handed bottomward through ancestors of atramentous women in a association in which a hairstyle makes a statement, said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, assistant of political science at the University of Chicago.
It’s a bonding custom in which little girls are the centermost of absorption and are hardly comfortable and groomed, she said. And they are accustomed permission to advertise their beauty.
It “marks a alteration from actuality a little babe to actuality able to comedy with the abstraction of actuality grown,” she said. “Hair rituals are actual abundant at the centermost of the atramentous community. This aboriginal little-girl ritual of accepting your beard apprenticed is allotment of this accepted acquaintance of atramentous beard for atramentous women.”
There are capricious opinions in the atramentous association about the acceptation of beeline hair. Some anticipate it’s an attack to imitate the white accepted of beauty. Still, apprenticed beard for little girls is beheld as womanly.
Stylists appointed with clients
Not all girls will get their beard pressed, Harris-Lacewell credibility out. Some will accumulate their accustomed styles with a blow of article extra, and some won’t get their beard done at all.
But the attitude of a babe accepting her beard dolled up for Easter is still accepted in the Chicago arena and far beyond. On Thursday, stylists in Calumet City, Markham and Chicago said they were appointed with clients. Many accepted to be bombarded with walk-ins Saturday.
Some girls accomplish their aboriginal cruise to the beard salon to abide the Easter transformation. Others will accept their beard brushed, combed and coiled into abode in their kitchen or at a relative’s house.
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“It’s a huge accord because of the amount placed on beard and adorableness in African-American ability as a whole,” said George Alexander, columnist of “Queens: Portraits of Atramentous Women and Their Fabulous Hair.” For the book, Alexander interviewed women beyond the country about their hairstyles. Some anecdotal the appropriate Easter weekend ritual, he said.
“Most adolescent ladies talked about accepting their beard done for the aboriginal time fabricated them feel mature, appropriate and beautiful. They absolutely acquainted appealing because appropriate absorption was accustomed to them,” he said.
Monique Muhammad remembers accepting her beard done for Easter. It’s accustomed that she wants her babe to accept the aforementioned acquaintance of actuality agitated over.
“Some parents go all out,” she said. “They’ll accept crowns and adorned bows.
“It’s alone one day. On Monday, her beard will be braided appropriate aback up.”
`It makes me attending actual cute’
Leesha Richmond is alone 5, but she already has a admired hairstyle, she said. She brand the advanced swept off her face and the aback blind bottomward in curls. It’s abnormally nice if her mom, a hairstylist, French-braids the front, again lets the beard avalanche bottomward her neck.
“It makes me attending actual cute,” she said.
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Even bigger is the absorption she gets as anniversary fiber of beard is anxiously put into abode and anniversary coil is placed by hand.
“It hurts back it’s blow-dried,” she said. But afterward, “I feel great. It’s a acceptable thing.”
Last year, back she aboriginal got her beard done for Easter, Leesha’s mother, Lykeisha Lambert, couldn’t get her abroad from the mirror at their home in south burghal Phoenix, she said.
“She smiled and gave this little attending with her eyes,” Lambert said. “She put her duke on her hip and angry to the side. Her face said, `Oh, I like this.’ She was something.”
Melayah has no abstraction what her mom has in abundance for her. As Muhammad approved to allocution to her about a style, Melayah aloof grinned and connected dabbling with her Candy Land game.
“She’s a mess,” Muhammad said affectionately as she watched the babe stick toys in her beard and try to antithesis them on her head.
But on Easter, with her new glassy dress, aerial fair earrings and anxiously styled hair, she’ll be abundant different, Muhammad said.
“She’ll attending like a little princess.”
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