Musician, model, fashion muse — in terms of celebrity child stars, Willow Smith’s résumé is pretty much front-and-back, single-spaced, nine-point font at this point. It’s a wonder then how she still finds time to practice archery, offer up her face to Chanel Beauty, get six piercings, and constantly change up her hair — the latter of which has kept people talking since her debut hit, “Whip My Hair,” back in 2010.
“Every single one of my dreads is like a stress ball for me,” Smith told Refinery29 at the Nyx Face Awards. “I twist them when I’m nervous, making them longer and longer, and I like the way my long hair moves when I’m performing. But I have tried so many different looks and colors that it’s made my hair a little weak, so my favorite is when I go all-natural.”
That’s why, in 2012, Smith buzzed it all off during the “Whip My Hair” tour. “I had to recuperate it, and it got to the point that I didn’t know what my natural hair looked like because I kept doing all this other stuff,” she says. “I’d look at baby pictures and see what my hair looked like, and I just got curious. Then I ended up bleaching it right after [ laughs].”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course. Change is an ethos loudly embraced by Smith, who’s spoken out against gender stereotypes — an evolved stance to take at 16 years old.
“I’m a Black female in the 21st century,” she explains. “My favorite color isn’t pink; it’s black. I’m not obsessed with getting married or having kids. Gender norms put people in boxes and don’t allow them to really get to their full potential as a human being. Slowly but surely, dudes are starting to wear nail polish and become more in tune with their feelings. Change is happening, and it’s very exciting.”
That opinion is one her famous parents, Will and Jada Pinkett, let her discover on her own. “We’re similar in so many ways,” Smith says, referring to her mom. “When she was younger, she was all about reforming the paradigms. She’s still about speaking for what you believe in, but at the same time, she’s grown and she’s realized that anger and anxiety don’t get you anywhere. She imparts that wisdom on me, allowing us to see what really happens in the world, but also letting us know what we’re loved and have a place to be our true selves. That’s what’s important to me.”