By Josh Saunders
A little girl has embraced becoming a ‘pink princess’ after being told she was ‘ugly’ and had to play ‘The Prince’ because of her short hair.
Adorable McKenna Cuilla, four-years-old, from Hollister in California, USA, struggled to deal with her lack of locks for two-years and would cry because she couldn’t be like other girls her age.
Having adored Rapunzel and Disney princesses from a young age, at night she would pray to have hair like her idols, but it remained less than three-inches long.
At preschool, other kids would tell her she couldn’t be a ‘princess’ due to her difference and she was even told her she was ‘ugly’.
After mum-of-two Jannelle, 31, noticed her daughter becoming withdrawn and upset from the bullying she started to think outside the box.
Remembering her daughter’s love for her own colourful hair, she decided to dye it bright pink three weeks ago and since then she’s been the envy of her friends.
Now instead of feeling insecure, the little girls calls herself ‘pink princess’, makes up songs about how beautiful her hair is and gets excited whenever she sees it.
Jannelle, a teacher’s aid and stay-at-home mom, said: “Her hair has only grown two and a half to three inches, she didn’t notice at first but as she got older the more aware she became.
“The older she got, she saw her little friends dancing with long hair, curls, pigtails and braids, she asked me ‘Momma, can you do that for me?’
“I tried to make tiny braids but even being a hairstylist, I can’t braid hair when there’s nothing to braid. It left her in tears, and me feeling so helpless.
“When she started preschool and a friend started pointing it out to her, it all went downhill.
“Then there were incidents, one when her friends were playing princesses they told her she couldn’t play with them because she didn’t look like a princess.
“They told her you don’t have the hair to be a princess and that she had to play a prince, it was heart-wrenching for her.
“I remembered her looking at my dyed hair and asking, ‘Moma when can I dye my hair, that’s so cool when can I do that’ and thought it’s summer, let’s have a bit of fun.
“I hid her face away from the mirror until it was done, when I turned her around, her face just lit up.
“She was so excited she was hopping up and down, got teary eyed and was singing, making up songs about having pretty hair and how beautiful her hair looked.
“The next day no kid was mean to her, they told her how pretty her hair was and that they wanted hair just like hers.
“She sees herself as a pink haired princess, Rapunzel is her favourite princess, often she would go to bed and pray that god would make her look like Rapunzel.”
McKenna’s insecurities around her short hair developed when she was younger, commenting that she wished she had hair like Disney princesses.
Since starting preschool, the naïve comments of other kids her age led her to believe she wasn’t beautiful because of her hair.
Jannelle said: “Kids will be kids, I’m not saying it’s an excuse them to be mean or bully her, but at a young tender age you never know what will come out of their mouths.
“They don’t mean to be hateful or mean, they just talk about whatever they can see.
“I began to see her withdraw, pull away and was upset, which is not like her at all.
“She started to become very aware of her looks. My husband and I are very positive people, we believe in building kids up from the inside out.
“To value people for their personality and strengths, not their looks, which is what we have done since she was a baby.
“We built both of our kids on positive affirmations not related to looks, but she was getting more aware of it and she felt left out.”
To help her McKenna look like the other kids at her dance recital, Jannelle bobby-pinned a hair piece onto her head and her reaction left the mum knowing she had to do more.
Jannelle said: “She was so excited that it made me realise I needed to think outside the box to help her more.
“I was lying in bed one night, I’m a hairstylist but due to young hair being so fine it can’t handle pressure and I didn’t want to damage it.
“After another two more incidents, I hit my breaking point and decided to let her dye her hair pink.
“I thought it’s summer, let’s have a bit of fun, I didn’t care what people would think because I knew I needed to show my daughter how important it was.
“After we dyed it, it was a total 180, her personality came back, and she was the little shining star I always knew was.
“She was so proud that as soon as she got home she told her daddy, ‘All the girls want hair like me’ before she never had a reason to because she want proud of how it looked.
“We call her our little pink haired princess, I’ve told her she doesn’t have to be a princess to be beautiful and that she could eb anything from a mermaid to a unicorn, warrior or anything.
“This is something we’ve struggled with for the past two years so to have relief for her is amazing, she can be herself again.”
Jannelle also had short hair as a child, but believes the struggles are much harder today for children due to social media, filters and societal pressures.
The experiences have even made her reconsider how she sees herself and her own body positivity in front of her kids.
She said: “She’s so young, she’s only four-years-old and shouldn’t have to worry about her looks, it’s crazy, so I feel very relieved now.
“When I was growing up the world was a lot different and not as consumed with looks, we have filters that changes the way you look so you can pretend to be someone else.
“Our world is so fixated on the outside, I remember being disappointed that I didn’t have long hair but I think it’s a lot harder for kids today.
“Even as a parent I need to check myself and make sure I don’t put myself down or wanting to change how I look.”
Jannelle took her daughter to the doctors to ensure her short hair wasn’t due to an underlying health condition but was told her daughter was ‘normal’ and it would grow.
This would eventually lead her to think outside of the box to empower her daughter, and while she knew her decision may not be ‘popular’ she knew it was the best thing for her child.
Jannelle said: “I encourage parents whose kids are struggling with insecurities that just because it’s ‘normal’ doesn’t mean you can’t be there for them.
“To try to talk to your children, be there the best way you can and to be creative, sometimes that means doing something a little out there.
“It may not be popular but if you stand by your child and show them you don’t care what others think it will encourage them to embrace their true selves.”
Since posting online about her daughter’s experiences, other parents have been in touch to congratulate but others have also criticised.
Jannelle said: “Most of the feedback has been supportive, I’ve been told I’m an awesome mom for thinking outside the box, which brightens my day and I don’t care about the haters.
“I knew people would give us looks and was willing to deal with that, I don’t let it bother me, as those people don’t understand and can’t judge our situation.
“Now I get butterflies from the excitement I feel for her, when she sees herself she feels good about who she is.
“She sees what I have always seen within her – that she’s a beautiful, bright individual and I couldn’t be happier, I feel like the world is hers, she can go out there and do anything.”
To follow their family online, visit: www.facebook.com/SoCuilly