Jada Pinkett Smith Says She Was 'Mom-Shamed' Because She Didn't Raise Jaden and Willow in a 'Typical' Way

Jada Pinkett Smith on Red Table Talk 
Jada Pinkett Smith on Red Table Talk 
Photo: Facebook/Sophy Holland

Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris and Willow Smith talked mom-shaming on the latest episode of Red Table Talk.

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The latest episode description, via Facebook Watch’s press release sent to The Root:

“Mom-Shaming: The New Epidemic” | With mom-shaming at an all-time [high], Jessica Alba and Ashley Graham come to the table to share their experiences as frequent targets. Jada shares her own stories of being mom-shamed and Willow reveals how that affected her. Plus, RTT favorite Dr. Ramani reveals the devastating effects mom-shaming can have.

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The Smiths have been a high-profile family for a while now and their moves are still often the “cause of all this conversation,” as Beyoncé sings in “Formation.” (One word: entanglement.) But, if we reminisce a bit, it was the Smith children who prompted a lot of the discussion a few years ago. Since celebrities’ business tends to be everyone’s business (even when said choices don’t affect the general public), Willow shaving her head made headlines and caused debate at one point.

“For me, looking at how my children were being affected, that’s what [counted],” Jada recalled. “When people were like, ‘Oh my god I can’t believe you shaved Willow’s head!’ If they could have seen this child’s expression of freedom, looking at her hair falling to the ground. So me, as a mom, looking at that, experiencing that with her, there is nothing that anyone could say to me to tell me that it was wrong. Not one person, because I was there, I was looking at her. I saw her face. I knew the journey that she and I took together to get to that point. And so, it didn’t really matter what anybody said.”

It’s important to specify the types of intra-community conversations that have happened in the Black community—specifically when it comes to the more “conservative” way to raise our children. There has definitely been an ongoing debate on firm discipline versus the significance of allowing Black children to express themselves freely. In fact, Willow admits feeling the ramifications of this when it came to Black communal acceptance.

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“Specifically with the African American community, I felt like me and Jaden were shunned a little bit,” Willow admitted. “Like, we’re not going to take pride in them because they’re too different, they’re too weird...Even some of our family members, I would feel they thought we’re too different.”

Jada also mentioned that if she had to compare the two, she probably got even more flack for Jaden’s decisions than Willow’s, referencing his gender-bending wardrobe choice for the Louis Vuitton womenswear campaign in 2016.

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“I think as Jaden got older, you know when he did the Louis Vuitton thing and he was wearing a skirt, you know? And then he isn’t what people consider your typical Black man, which is like, what is that supposed to be?” Jada inquired.

Willow scoffed at the thought, asking whether he should’ve been wearing sagging pants instead—would that have made for a more comfortable or acceptable display of Black masculinity?

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“Even in the community we create stereotypes around ourselves and it’s something that we, as a community, really have to learn how to let go of,” Jada added. “I know that people felt like it’s dangerous...you know what it’s like to be a Black or Brown person in this world. You are doing your kids a disservice. I understood where that fear came from, but I also understood, from having been on the streets and having had not been your conventional Black girl in the streets of Baltimore, I knew that self-confidence is what helped me survive.”

The “Mom-Shaming: The New Epidemic” episode of Red Table Talk is now available to view on Facebook Watch.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

I won’t lie: I totally talked about the parenting skills of The Smiths. I don’t take any of it back either.