Celebrity

Christian Vierig/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Gabrielle Union Opens Up About "Releasing" Her Kids From White Beauty Standards

"I want them to be the best versions of themselves without centering Eurocentric beauty ideals..."

Teaching kids about self-love starts at home. For Gabrielle Union, part of that method has been unteaching her children about societal norms of what and who is considered beautiful. In a recent interview with MadameNoire, Union shared she's focused less on white beauty standards and more on teaching her daughters and other Black girls to embrace their authentic selves.

"I want them to be the best versions of themselves without centering Eurocentric beauty ideals and the white gaze, and white validation," Union told MadameNoire. "If you center your own thoughts and needs and wants and desires and fantasies, who could you be? And I will be left to wonder who I could have been had I embraced this my whole life. But I want my kids to have that freedom."

Union is the mother of Kaavia James, 2, with husband Dwyane Wade, who also is the father to sons Xavier Zechariah, 7, Zaire, 19, and daughter Zaya, 13.

The 48-year-old author talked about how she puts this into practice in everyday life. For example, Union shared with MadameNoire that Kaavia swims every day, so she tries not to "obsess over" how her toddler's hair looks at all times. "It’s not going to be picture perfect or whatever people feel that means. I’m human... Kaav is going to run around here during a pandemic after swim class and it’s going to be what it is. You’ll see her natural curls," Union told the outlet. As for Zaya, Union said she likes to color her hair and she teaches the 13-year-old about taking care of it, which includes moisturizing it, combing it, and wrapping it up.

"I was always thinking about my hair," Union told MadameNoire. "... My dad really bought into, you have to assimilate. And the more presentable and respectable we look and appear, the better we’re going to be received by people who don’t want to receive us! So I’m releasing myself from that, and I’m certainly releasing my kids from that."

Union has always been very vocal about representation and the importance of self-identity for her kids. For instance, in a powerful essay to ELLE, she wrote about reaffirming her kids' Black identity in a society that is still anti-Black in many ways. "What I'm trying to do with our two daughters is understand that if I cannot provide a school environment that is as diverse as the global population, I have to do more to constantly make sure the girls are reaffirmed," she wrote in her February essay.

Through her haircare line, Flawless By Gabrielle Union, she teaches her daughters and other Black girls to embrace their curls and coils and be unapologetic about it. "Normalize letting Black girls exist how they want to," she shared with The Cut in an August 2020 interview. "Sometimes that’s gonna be with perfect pigtails, and sometimes it’s afro puffs, and sometimes that’s gonna be a head full of curls that do what they do, and all of it is okay."