Breaking Polygamy: A Haircut Equals Freedom

Part 3: 'I want bangs!' Nellie Steed, 6, said, breaking with her strict FLDS upbringing.
6:09 | 11/23/12

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Transcript for Breaking Polygamy: A Haircut Equals Freedom
There we go, boys. Reporter: When we first met willie steed, he was trying to pop wheelies on the ice in north dakota. He was on his last construction job for the flds. At the age of 18, he's already been working for 10 years. You're doing flooring, you're packing rolls of carpet. How many young boys are shipped off to work construction like you were? I could easily say over a thousand. I know contractors from around the area hate the flds because they can always underbid them because they come in with an army of 40 young boys who are not being paid. Reporter: For the children of the flds, childhood is a short season. Many start hard labor at an early age. When oprah visited the compound, she was told play is considered unproductive. You're there to work, and they'll work you to the other end. Reporter: Many boys get pulled out of grade school. They put in long hours, often seven days a week with no pay. How many hours in a day would you work? At first it started at 7:00 and went to 9:00. It was incredible to see that as a kid you could do such slave labor. You saw a life of manual labor with no education and no way out? Yes. It's like -- it's like you're under a wall that's just -- just toppling on top of you but you and the church and everything is just feeding that wall with weight. Reporter: But for the girls of the flds, motherhood was the only horizon. When we talked to women inside, everyone shared the same goal. I wanted to have a family. I wanted plural wives. My father had plural wives. I liked having more than one mother. I liked having a lot of brothers and sisters. Our belief is that there are spirits up in heaven waiting to be born here. And we want to offer them a loving, good home. Reporter: Young girls living inside the community could imagine no other future. What do you see yourself doing? In five years? Being a mother of a family. How many kids do you want? Oh, as many as I can have. Reporter: But the steed sisters say they always knew that marriage was a future they dreaded. Their prophet, warren jeffs, assigned wives to men without asking for consent. Why did it scare you? Because I knew that I'd have to marry a man that I didn't even know. Reporter:11-year-old ada told us she was terrified. I always worried about that i would have a creep as a husband. I always wanted a husband that was the kind to help ya. Reporter: Even in a prairie dress, it was always clear that gloria was a rebel. All the men down there are jerks and I wouldn't want to marry any of them. They're pompous asses. Do what I say. Do what I say. The father rules. Men were in charge of us. They were the only way we were going to get to heaven. We had to love them no matter what. We decided. We had to share them with other women. Reporter: Elissa wall is a cousin of the steeds. She wrote a book about her escape from the sect. At the age of 14, warren jeffs forced her to marry her first cousin, so she knows why her cousins distrust men. We had to submit. We had to obey, and through it all, we had to hold them on a pedestal and believe that they were, in an essence a god in our life. It's all about the men. Reporter: Elissa's been with the girls for many of their firsts. They've never been measured for bras before, and makeup has always been a forbidden temptation. That looks good. Reporter:17-year-old suzanne wants to help support the family. So elissa hired her as a seamstress at her baby clothes company. For a girl who's lived such a sheltered life, getting on the bus is a small act of courage. What's been the hardest part about living here outside of everyone and everything you knew? I was never, never allowed to walk out of the yard alone. That just wasn't done. Reporter: Every day takes the girls further from the strict path they once followed. But the milestone in their transformation is the day they all decided to cut their hair. Maybe about here. The hair is such a big part of what makes a woman. And what makes you worthy. I think it's so easy to make your identity surrounding your hair. And when you cut that off, it's releasing that identity and stepping into the new and the unknown. And that can be scary at times. But it's a liberating thing. What do you want to do? I want to have bangs and as short as her hair is. That was quite a time for us. You get emotional when you talk about it. Knowing that if I met my father today, he would be displeased with me. But also knowing that I am not living to please him anymore. We have to move on in life and leave things behind. We weren't allowed to cut our

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