Behind the Mask: Is Willow Smith Too Young?

Tamar-Kali – Boot

Willow Smith, the daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, is known for her eccentric fashion sense, which I love. Yet lately she has been turning heads with her hairstyling and a possible tongue piercing. The Daily News has reported that her piercing is fake, but many are still questioning Will and Jada’s parenting styles and the fact that WIllow is only 11-years-old.

I must admit when I see Willow, I sometimes forget that she is only a pre-teen, but does that mean her style is inappropriate for her age. Jada had said that as parents they allow Willow to own her own body, something that I actually appreciate. But only too an extent because she is still 11 and growing. I am okay with it as long as they do not give her too much free reign and have discussions with her on some of her choices, and Jada said it herself. Her clothes are no problem and neither is shaving her head, which I read some criticized.

This has a lot to do with cultural customs, norms and taboos in terms of fashion. I think that some people are jumping at her for her style choices because they think she is not acting like a stereotypical “girl” who likes to wear and do “normal girl” things. They associate a rocker style, a female with a shaved head and piercings with being deviant and with delinquent behavior. However, in of themselves these thing do not mean anything.

The reason I placed Tamar-Kali’s “Boot,” is that the video portrays a young girl who likes to dress in a punk rock fashion and I guess it represents Kali’s own difficult with her style. In the Afropunk documentary, she spoke about her experience with teasing and bullying because of how she looked, but found it ironic that the people who did this did not realize that their ancestors did some of the same things she did. And it is true. In many indigenous cultures all over the world, tattooing, scarification and piercing, which some of our population feel represents trouble, are used as parts of rituals and as signs of maturation, beauty and different stages of life. Even in our own society, it is often normal for young girls to get their ears pierced. But any other place is considered strange?

At the end of the day, I am not Willow’s parent; it is up to her parents to decide with her on piercings and other seemingly adult actions. But I do want people to not think that her style immediately means that she is a bad or troublesome kid. Social norms change all the time because they are not actually normal or natural. Those things are not going to inherently ruin her life if she does have them. So, is Willow too young for a tongue piercing? Whether it is real or not, the answer is not so clear.

3 thoughts on “Behind the Mask: Is Willow Smith Too Young?

  1. Thank you for aligning my work and experiences to the conversation of style in the African American Community. As a self styled bush woman and a former worker in the piercing industry, I think education is the key.

    Here is my opinion from a piercing nerd’s perspective:
    Professional Salons will not pierce minors without parental consent for legal and health reasons. It is a general concern that a body grow to maturity before it is modified with the exception of ‘flap piercings’ ie. ear lobes, nostrils etc. – parts of the anatomy that have a front and back. The chance of rejection or piercings ‘growing out’ is higher in a still growing body.
    In addition, oral piercings can have a devastating effect on tooth enamel further driving home the point of physical maturity + emotional maturity to meet after care requirements.

    A bit clinical but important to know I think.

    Peace. Tamar-kali

    1. Hi! Thanks for the information. Based on that, it seems that she would probably not be able to get it anyway and her parents would have discussed this with her, since she is only eleven.

      1. Again that’s ‘professional salons’ there are tons of InstaPunk shops willing to take minor’s money. It’s still not regulated, so you’ve got to do your research.

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