My children’s book “Nikki Loves Her Hair,” definitely comes from a personal place. Since African-Americans have been brought to this country, everything about our bodies, including our hair has been under attack. Even now, there are still numerous stories and cases coming out, highlighting discrimination against our natural hair. In a sense, we have been conditioned to try and “assimilate” to other standards and let go of some parts of our unique and distinct history.
When I was younger, I was one of those children that desired to change my natural hair state. I begged my mom to let me get a perm in middle school and kept one until my sophomore year of high school. From images that I had seen and things that I heard, I developed this notion that straighter hair was better. Eventually, I realized that I made a mistake.
I realized that I removed a part of myself that I so desperately missed and I made the decision to chop all of my hair off and start over. This decision led to rejuvenation and allowed me to connect with myself on a different level, sparking the confidence in myself that I needed. I grew to love my natural curls again.
After being natural again for about 3 years, I then realized I wanted to make another life-changing commitment and grow locs. It was something that I always wanted, but I was too afraid to seriously commit to the process that it took. I found myself going through another liberating experience. At this point, I have been loc’d for approximately 3 years and have never been happier. I am grateful that I was able to overcome societal pressures and become what I wanted to be.
It may seem like such a small issue to some, but if you have not been discriminated against for something as natural as the hair that grows from your scalp, you may not understand. Every day, people are being wrongly judged or looked over because they don’t conform to what others want them to be, and I want to send the message to younger generations that no matter what life tries to throw at you, you don’t have to change who you are. Even more important, they should be proud of who they are and where they come from.
Even outside of loving their natural hair, I want all children of all ethnicities and backgrounds to love themselves in general, and that is the overall message I want to ring clear. People often forget that children even as toddlers, begin to register things in their minds very quickly. The media that they consume (tv shows, books, etc.), is crucial to their overall development and mental health. Instilling these positive thoughts in our children at an early age can deter them from being influenced by negative perceptions and outlets later on it life. There are a lot of influences out there, and I want to be part of the positive ones encouraging confidence, self-love and positive representation.