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Latina Mom Confronts White Husband After He Compares Daughter’s Curly Hair To ‘Bird’s Nest’

Young girl with curly hair
Complexio/Getty Images

We’ve all heard jokes that obviously were not really jokes, even if the person who told them insisted they had the best of intentions when telling it.

But when the joke is at another person’s expense, especially when it relates to their natural appearance, then that non-joke is especially un-funny, argued the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Still-Ad3011 was suspicious when she noticed that her daughter was upset, and when her daughter said her father had told her a joke that she didn’t find funny.

But when she heard what the actual joke was, the Original Poster (OP) was furious about the message her husband was sending to their daughter.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for continuing to argue with my husband after he made a joke about our daughter’s curly hair?”

The OP recently noticed that her daughter was deeply upset.

“I’m a Latina woman married to a white man. We have an 8-year-old daughter with curly hair. I love her hair, and she loves it too.”

“Last weekend, I noticed she was upset and quiet.”

“I asked what happened, and she didn’t want to tell me.”

“I insisted, and she started crying.”

“She told me her father had made a joke about her hair. He said her hair looked like a bird’s nest and that she should straighten it or cut it.”

“He said it was just a joke and that he loved her hair, but she shouldn’t tell me about the joke.”

The OP lashed out at her husband for the joke.

“I was furious and confronted my husband. I started arguing with him and said he was being prejudiced and had hurt our daughter.”

“He apologized and said he didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

“He said he was just trying to make a joke and didn’t see any issue with her hair.”

“He said I needed to stop dwelling on his mistake and that I was overreacting.”

The OP did not accept her husband’s responses.

“I didn’t accept his apologies and continued to argue with him.”

“I told him he had no idea what curly hair meant to our daughter and our culture.”

“I said he should respect it and not make such jokes.”

“I said he was foolish for making our daughter feel bad and for making her hide the truth from me.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some side-eyed the husband for telling his daughter not to tell her mom about the joke.

“NTA. The fact that he explicitly told your daughter not to tell you about his ‘joke’ shows you he knows how wrong and hurtful it was.”

“He can’t just say things like that and claim, ‘Oh, it was just a joke so you’re not allowed to get mad.+”

“Clearly his joke, regardless of his intention, was hurtful, and instead of sincerely apologizing to both you and your daughter, he’s treating it like you’re being over-sensitive and shrugging you off as being ridiculous. He doesn’t get to decide what does and does not hurt someone else.” – ittybittyclutter

“Hey OP, I know that you’re already rightfully upset about your husband’s behavior, but I think it’s really important to teach her that there is no keeping secrets from her parents, especially from each other.”

“A kid taught to keep secrets from their parents becomes very vulnerable to several kinds of severe abuse. There are lessons online about how to teach your kids not to keep secrets (but that planning surprises is okay, for example) because it can be dangerous.”

“Your husband shouldn’t be teaching your daughter to keep secrets from you.”

“NTA.” – Dontdrinkthecoffee

“NTA, but your husband is a major AH for teasing his daughter about her looks, for telling her not to tell you (which means he knew it was a mean thing to do when he did it), and for then trying to gaslight you about it.” – Auntie-Mam69

“We taught that surprises are things that will likely make someone happy when we surprise them with them (examples of birthday parties and various gifts are used).”

“Secrets are things that can hurt people or make people feel bad. If anyone tells you/does something that makes you feel bad, you should tell a trusted adult.”

“What the father did definitely falls under the secrets category (YTA), and the OP is NTA.” – Dragon0se


“Red flag any time one parent does something and then tries to coerce the child into not telling the other parent about something like this.”

“I don’t know what his meaning is, but if I say my hair looks like a ‘bird’s nest,’ I mean that it’s tangled and I clearly need to brush it or wash my beach spray out of it.”

“I wasn’t clocking it as anything weird until he said, ‘Don’t tell Mummy.’ Has he explained that?” – spoiledrichwhitegirl

“NTA. He upset your daughter about something that was important to her; plus he told her not to tell you. He knew his ‘joke’ was inappropriate and now he’s trying to backpedal on it. You are not overreacting; the man has the empathy of a turnip.” – toosheeptheorist

“NTA. Your husband knows he’s in the wrong, he even tried to convince your daughter to not say anything. He made her cry and that’s not okay.”

“What was he expecting? ‘Oh, I’ll make my daughter insecure about a trait she likes about herself, that’ll be funny.’ If he doesn’t have any issues with her hair, why did he insult it?” – BarbarianRose

“NTA. Sometimes you have to get on someone’s culo (butt) to make them really understand the error of their ways. He was making your daughter feel ashamed of who she was and what she looked like, things beyond her control. And then he encouraged your daughter to lie to you.
Bet you he won’t do that again.” – DontAskMeChiit

Others were furious about the message the father was sending the OP’s daughter.

“He’s started your daughter on a path she’ll be forced to travel because of others’ perceptions of what is acceptable and attractive. Especially in this day when ethnic hair is forcibly altered illegally by strangers like cutting, straightening, coloring, etc. because their hair doesn’t meet ‘certain’ standards deemed ‘normal.'”

“It’s especially problematic because this was at the hands of her loving? father. It’s akin to the first time a child hears a racial slur used towards them! It’s life-altering! She will remember this for the rest of her life!”

“He has no clue what he started or the future repercussions!” – Dlbruce0107

“The issue isn’t entirely the bird’s nest comment (which meant messy hair when I was a kid); it’s the fact that he compounded that with ‘you need to brush it or straighten it.’”

“You’re not supposed to just brush your curls anyways he certainly doesn’t need to be pushing her to change herself completely by straightening it.”

“The ‘Don’t tell Mom’ command just made it 10 times worse.” – leah_paigelowery

“As a woman with curly hair who grew up during the 90s and 2000s stick straight hair trends, I know that nobody should be telling girls with curly hair that they need to tame or straighten it.”

“I burnt my hair to a crisp for years trying to straighten it to appeal to some bulls**t Western beauty standard and finally learning to shed (no pun intended) that as an adult has been liberating.”

“Telling young girls they need to straighten their hair is problematic at best and racist at worst.” – fromafarawayplac3

“NTA. As someone who was the only curly girl in a family of people with straight hair, I cannot tell you how many times I got demeaning comments about the way my hair looked.”

“For years, well into my adulthood, I had family members telling me I should straighten, relax, or cut my hair. It wrecked my relationship with my hair and my appearance.”

“You’re doing the right thing by standing up for your daughter. Don’t let anyone tell her that curls aren’t beautiful or that she needs to ‘brush her bird’s nest’. Make sure your husband understands just how harmful those comments can be.” – PrincessAmpersand

“NTA. Little girls adore their daddies. And this one just shot her confidence level WAY down. He needs to beg for her forgiveness as soon as possible.” – deutschHotel

“Daddy needs to read articles about girls and their hair! There are devoted dads out there who help their daughters style and care for their hair. Maybe he needs to do some daddy-daughter styling time!” – Dlbruce0107

“I truly believe that the only reason I ever had the confidence to begin with was because my dad instilled in me from the very beginning that I was always worthy.”

“And he was a very hands-on parent. He got me ready for school. Made my lunches. Even went to PTA meetings.”

“This was in the 90s and he’d be the only man (young and brown too) in a room filled with middle-aged white ladies who adored him. My dad was my hero and protector.”

“I’ll always be grateful for his love and support. I feel so bad for this little girl. Like this is not the way, Dad. Do better. Be better.” – Due-Topic7995

The subReddit was totally appalled by the joke that the OP’s husband had told their daughter, only to try to silence her by encouraging her not to tell her mother about it, and then to gaslight the OP into thinking she was overreacting about his ‘joke.’

A joke should be funny to everyone and absolutely should not be something that needs to be hidden or argued about. All this joke proved to be was a problem and a message to the daughter that at least the OP did not want to send.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit