Children’s book helps black girls learn to love their natural hair
I was a teenager before the internet was a thing, so the inspiration for my hairstyles came from trendy hair and Dark hair magazine, not Pinterest. Those popular hair magazines that inspired so many young black girls in the 90s inspired Anita Grant’s new children’s book, hello hair.
The book, which features adorable illustrations of over 100 natural hairstyles ranging from afro puffs to twists and highlights, is designed to help young girls embrace their crown and love all the amazing things their natural hair can do. We spoke exclusively with author Anita Grant about her natural hair journey and why she made it her mission to help young girls learn to love their crown.
Growing up, Grant had a complicated relationship with his hair. One of three daughters, the Toronto native was born to Jamaican parents on opposite ends of the hair spectrum. “My dad was a terror and my mom was a conformist when it came to pressing her hair,” she said. “When I think back to my childhood, I don’t have many memories of putting my hands in my hair. My sisters and I have our hair [braided] for school and in a hurry for special occasions. And once we were old enough, it was every man for himself.
One of Grant’s sisters became a hairstylist who did braids and weaves, something she said was both a blessing and a curse. “I could always get my hair done. But it didn’t let me know more about my hair and style my natural hair,” she said. And while she wanted to embrace her natural hair, Grant says she tended to hide behind her weave as a teenager.
Grant said she only felt beautiful when she wore weaves and wigs. But the COVID-19 pandemic has kept her from visiting the salon regularly and forced her to explore different hairstyles and products on her own. And when she found out she was expecting, she wanted to make sure her daughter had a different relationship with her hair. “I figured when my child was born, I was going to raise her to like her natural hair,” she said. “I wanted her to know that her hair is beautiful in its natural state.”
Grant says the inspiration for the styles in the book came from black girl hairstyles she found on Instagram and Pinterest. “I like to see what is happening with this new generation. They represent their crown and curls in their natural state,” she said. “I just want to be able to support that and contribute to that self-esteem.”
“I know how much I loved being able to touch those hair magazines and how good it made me feel,” she said. “We just illustrated this and added our little twist to make it fun and inspiring for young girls.” And while Grant says young girls will love the colorful illustrations, the ’90s hair magazine feel will bring back memories for parents.
Grant says her natural hair journey is still evolving, but hello hair helps her unlearn some of the unhealthy feelings she had about her natural hair growing up. “That has been the most therapeutic part of this process for me. I literally became a child again. I serve the little child who was so scared to kiss his crown,” she said.
Grant hopes her book will create a safe space for people to talk about natural hair and end hair rules. “These conversations about hair type can be more confrontational than educational. I understand that caring for natural hair is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and I think we need to be more gracious to the community,” he said. she said, “To support each other, you have to be non-judgmental.”
You can get your copy of Hello Hair online at www.hellohairbook.com.