'It was crooked and awful but she smiled like you wouldn't believe': hair styling 101 for dads

Male caregivers learn the basics of ponytails and French braids in one-day courses or continuing competitions.

Ponytails and braids strengthen father-daughter bonds

Ross Bragg styles the hair of his young daughter at a workshop in Vancouver. (Ross Bragg)

David Weaver's first attempt at putting his daughter's hair in a ponytail was, in a word, "terrifying."

"I had no idea what to do," the stay-at-home father in Campbell River, B.C,. said. "It was crooked and awful. But she smiled like you wouldn't believe."

After that experience, Weaver decided to up his game and started watching YouTube videos teaching him the basics of ponytails and braids. Now, he can pull off the ponytail in a few minutes.

"It's our go-to when we're late," he said.

Weaver has been chronicling his experience on social media and is part of a trend of dads and other male caregivers publicly trying — and sometimes failing — to learn the basics of styling their daughters' hair.

Father-daughter hair care workshops have been held in Calgary, Trois-Rivières and Vancouver, among others, part of global trend that even made its way into a Super Bowl ad portraying NFL stars attempting to do their daughter's hair.

"It's something that strengthens the relationship between the caregiver and the child, helps with life-long learning... it's something we're very excited to do," said Fiona Bruce of the Fort Nelson Public Library in northeast B.C., which is hosting its own "Daddy and Me Hair Fare" Jan. 13.

In this oil and gas patch of Fort Nelson, B.C., Bruce said many fathers have expressed their excitement about the class.

"They just don't feel confident in their skills," she said. 

Bruce said she remembered the struggle of her own father doing her hair when she was a little girl.

"I had very long hair," she said. "But he did an excellent job."

In some places, the hair care courses go beyond just combs and curlers. Regina's Avant Garde Beauty College hosts an event called Braids & Beers that incorporates appetizers and beer for the adults, juice for the kids and a workshop competition for the best ponytail. 

Listen to David Weaver speak about the rewards of doing his daughter's hair

Robert Doane speaks to David Weaver and Fiona Bruce about the rewards for fathers who learn to do their daughters hair ahead of a "Daddy and Me Hair Care" class in Fort Nelson, B.C. 5:59

Weaver said that simply seeing the look on his daughter's face is reward enough for him. Even when he messes up on something like a French braid, he said, the quality time he's spent with his daughter is enough to encourage him to keep learning — and he encourages others to do the same.

"She's excited. She feels beautiful, and I can see it in the way that she looks and smiles," he said.

"In the last year I think we've probably grown a little bit stronger in our relationship together."

With files from Nicole Oud and CBC Daybreak North