Stephanie Hollifield adopted her daughter Haley at 8 months old. Now that she’s 2, the toddler has a lot more hair, and until recently, Hollifield — who is white — had no idea how to style the African-American girl’s hair. But that all changed on Sunday thanks to the kindness of a fellow mom she’d never met before.
It all started when Hollifield posted a plea on her Facebook page to her “Black Friends of Social Media,” writing “This clueless white momma is humbly coming to you to ask your help with Haley’s hair.” The Georgia woman explained that she had asked both friends and strangers for grooming tips but came up empty. “I’m still not getting it,” she confessed, rehashing her desperate ritual of taming her daughter’s short hair. “We wash once a week. We do the water, leave in conditioner, oil, and hot towel every morning … We are gentle as can be, but she still requires at least 6 minutes of cuddles after the trauma of her daily hair combing.”
The open letter worked because the post soon caught the attention of Monica Hunter, another Georgia mom who is African-American and happens to have three school-age daughters of her own. So she reached out to Hollifield on Facebook Messenger with advice. “I applaud her for reaching out and asking for help, because that’s not easy at all,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I told her about different products she could use on her baby’s hair. Then I said, ‘If you ever need help, I’ll come over and help. I’m serious. We’ll style Miss Haley’s hair!'”
So Hollifield took her up on her offer, and Hunter stopped in on Sunday afternoon armed with combs, headbands, hair product and advice. “It was important to me to touch Haley’s hair,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Some hair is really soft, some is really kinky. With some, the coils are loose, with some, they’re tight.” Hunter said little Haley’s hair was “clean, soft and manageable,” but that styling had to be kept simple because the girl is still so young.
Hunter learned that some well-meaning people had recommended Hollifield get extensions for Haley. “I was like, ‘No ma’am, shes’s 2!” Hunter said. Instead, she used oils on the girl’s hair, then parted it, created little ponytails, and finished off the style with a headband.
“Her curls are really tight, so I did a protective style to encourage her hair to grow,” Hunter told Yahoo Lifestyle. She also advised Hollifield not to wash Haley’s hair as often as she might wash Caucasian hair (“You’ll strip the oils out”) and to use protective styles for weeks at a time instead of daily combing, which is too difficult and uncomfortable.
Hollifield was overwhelmed with gratitude for the abundance of help from a person who was a virtual stranger until Sunday. “This lady, Monica Hunter, who I had never met in person before today, offered to come to my house and walk me through exactly how to style my daughter’s hair,” Hollifield wrote in a follow-up post, accompanied by a photo of all three ladies looking radiant. “She asked for nothing in return and wouldn’t accept my money. By the time she left I had a little more confidence in fixing my daughter’s hair, and most importantly I felt supported by my new friend,” the mom wrote. “In a time of so much hate and division, our world needs more people like this.”
The post has gone viral, and commenters are inspired by this tale of two women from different cultures bonding over a universal concept: motherhood. “Takes … kindness and compassion to a completely new level! How incredible to get this support and help!! This is amazing!,” one person wrote. “This moved me! We all belong to the human race,” another said. And a third put it perfectly: “I’m not crying. You’re crying!”
Hunter told Yahoo Lifestyle she immediately bonded with Haley and her mom. “You all have no clue, that little girl Haley — and Stephanie — blessed me more than I blessed them,” she said, adding that this definitely won’t be the last time they all get together. In fact, Hunter said when her three daughters found out what their mom had done, they were jealous to have missed out — especially since Hollifield has another daughter closer to their age. So the moms have agreed that a playdate will happen soon.
“I think this opened up an opportunity to create positivity for everybody,” she said about the impact this story has had on the people who’ve learned about it. “We will definitely be seeing each other again!”
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