Hair holds a lot of meaning. It can shape your self-concept and the way other people respond to you - both from a more shallow beauty-related perspective, but also from a racial and gender context. Hair can be a source of discrimination, a source of pride, and a signal of subculture. Needless to say, hair is loaded.
In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for shutting her husband down after he made a joke about their daughter's hair. She wrote:
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 rat'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. 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. I didn't accept his apologies and continued to argue with him. I told him he had no idea what curly hair means 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. AITA?
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.
NTA. Red flag any time one parent does something & then tries to coerce the child in to 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 ‘rat’s nest’ I mean that it’s tangled & 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?
NTA. Sometimes you have to get on someone's culo 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.
NTA - how is telling an 8-year-old her hair looks like a rat’s nest not meant to be offensive? It’d be offensive to anyone of any age but what would possess him to “joke” like that with a child?
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 back pedal on it. You are not over-reacting, the man has the empathy of a turnip.
OP is NTA here, and it's pretty clear by his secrecy that her husband knows he is one, despite his protests.