A video of an adorable toddler enjoying her new hairstyle has set Instagram on fire with debates about raising young girls, celebrating natural hair, and questioning other people’s parenting decisions.
Crystal Harden posted the video of not-yet-two-year-old Aiden feeling her straightened hair back in April. “Straightened my baby’s hair yesterday. She’s so gorgeous.”
At first, most of the comments she received were from friends and followers cooing over how cute Aiden is. “She’s loving it. Bouncing it around showing it off,” wrote one friend.
Then the criticism started coming: “Way too young,” said one comment. “Stop sexualising your daughter,” said another. The attention, both positive and negative, made the post gain traction until it eventually made its way to Instagram account, The Shade Room, where it racked up almost 1.5 million views in eight hours.
“How old were you when you got your first blow out?” The Shade Room asked, and there were more responses than we can possibly scroll through.
“Not this damn young,” Lady.k.blessed answered, and others echoed the sentiment.
“Let that baby be a damn baby!” wrote 13znkittytx. “She should be playing w/ toys not showing off her damn hairstyle. Ughhhhh some mums these days."
“I feel like this is just teaching this baby and other little girls that straight hair is more desirable than their natural curls,” OO_dash worried. "I love natural hair.”
Several assumed Aiden’s hair was a wig, turning it into a conspiracy thread.
Then came the backlash to the backlash, in defense of Crystal and her daughter.
“Take a step back and listen to yourself… can an adorable little girl live for 3 seconds or nah? Sheesh” wrote ntchwaidumela.
“How you too young for your own hair?” Laysiahendrix asked.
Yahoo Beauty reached out to Crystal, who admitted she was taking it in her stride — because she’d heard it all before.
“I received the negative reactions that the majority of people gave me from my own mum,” she said. “She was like, ‘Oh it was too mature to do her hair like that. You shouldn’t have posted that. There are creeps out there.’”
Crystal said Aiden loves to play dress-up and watch her mum do her own hair. So, one day, she decided to let her daughter see what her own hair would look like straight, so she flat-ironed it.
“Initially she was a little scared because she knows about heat,” Crystal admitted. “But then she fell asleep, so I continued to do it while she fell asleep. She loved it. She was swinging her hair. I took her to the park and the wind was blowing. She just loved it.”
But, Crystal would like to tell all the concerned strangers out there, this was really just a one-time thing, and Aiden’s hair returned to its natural state undamaged. “I don’t want her to be preconditioned to think that she has to straighten her curls, because her hair is beautiful curly and it’s beautiful straight,” Crystal said. “I just wanted to see herself in a different light and know that she is beautiful any way that she dresses up or however she does her hair.”
Crystal doesn’t exactly sound like a mother you’d see on Toddlers & Tiaras.
“I hope to teach her that she is beautiful in her own skin, and she can only do that if she genuinely wants to for her own purposes, and not to impress other people,” she said. “As she gets older … probably around 11 or 12, I’ll allow her to make that decision herself, because that’s when I started to do my own hair.”