Jada Pinkett-Smith went from teen star to one of the most talked about mothers in Hollywood. For some she's a beacon of progressive parenting but for others, her decisions around her kids, particulary 11-year-old daughter Willow are questionable. Never one to be swayed by public opinion Pinkett-Smith sat down with EBONY.COM to talk parenting, Willow’s dramatic hair cut and why she stands by it 100% because at the end of the day, “it’s just hair."
EBONY: Hair is always such a touch topic for Black women and after the pictures of Willow’s newly shaved head went up, there was a lot of reaction against her assumed freedom regarding her hair. As a Black mother, how did you feel about this?
Let me tell you something…this is really important. Let me tell you what I was proud of with my daughter. She knows that her hair is not her identity. And she knows that she’s beautiful and [she is] everything that she needs to be with or without hair; that hair can’t make or break a woman. The other thing I was proud of is that she didn’t give two hootie who’s about who thought what about it. She really didn’t and then turned around and dyed it green! I call her my 'little miss radical'. She’s truly my child.
EBONY: So you weren’t at all upset or in any shock when she decided to cut her hair off?
I can’t even be upset in any form but I want to tell you what I feel we, as women in general, must do. We have to understand that we should at all times, have the right and the power to make decisions about our bodies. And that is an idea that must be taught at a young age. You can’t wait until a person is 18 years old and say ‘now you have the right’. You have to start that form the gate. So what I am trying to show Willow, is that it’s her hair. I might not want her to cut it, but guess what? It’s not mine. And at the end of the day it’s not for me to make that choice for her. So I need her to be empowered now, with that. At the end of the day, it's hair.
EBONY: It’s been said that she actually wanted that style because her Grandmother had it. Is that true?
Will’s mother’s hair is the same way as well as my mother’s hair and I'll tell you what’s interesting. When she first got her hair cut, she wanted that style. She said to me, ‘I want my hair like Gammy’s!' So we went step by step by step, till we got to the day, three years later, when she said, “I told you, I want my hair like Gammy’s'.
Willow is on my hip, I'm watching every step.
EBONY: It’s amazing that a young teen her age could be so forward and confident with her appearance.
She wanted that style. And it took everything I had. I was like okay, why don’t we start with one side. She was like “okay!” Then she was like mom, I really want to cut more, so I said okay let’s do the other side. She’s like “okay!” So she rocked that for a little while till finally we got down to that little strand. And she still landed on what she had wanted from the beginning! I had to give her props on the fact that she ain’t let it go, and she knew what she wanted. And after she did the BET Honors, she looked at me and she was like ‘Mom I’m sick of it! I want to cut it off! I was like, all right. When she saw that hair fall to the ground she was like “Yes, now I am going to bleach it and make it pink!” So there you go.
EBONY: Young Black men can learn a thing or two from her confidence!
Here's the thing, men have to also mature in how they see women too. Because they need to understand that it’s not just about how we look, it’s about who we are. And I am going to tell you like this if you cant love me with short hair, and you telling me I got to have long hair to be loved, guess what, I ain’t the one for you.
EBONY: And women have to learn to raise their young girls to think the same way.
And you know I just think as women, we have to give ourselves room to be individuals. So when a woman makes a decision for herself, we as women shouldn’t set those hardcore boundaries for another woman. Just like we don’t want men setting hardcore boundaries for us. We as individuals should be able to say if we want to keep our husbands [last] name and also say we don’t, and