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Representation Matters: Especially for Young Naturalistas


Representation Matters

Your hair is too thick.

It is impossible to manage.

I can’t even run a comb through it.

Ah you will pay me extra for this.

This will take all day.

These are the messages I grew up with surrounding my hair, and most of these were messages I got even when my hair was relaxed. I grew up with the internalised message that my hair in its natural state was bad hair, it was messy hair, and it was troublesome hair. I grew up with the idea that my 4b/4c hair needed to be straighter and had to look longer in order to be acceptable and pretty. It didn’t help that almost no one had hair like main in the TV shows that I watched, or in the books that I had. It didn’t help that even my black dolls had straight hair too.

Now that I’m an adult I realise just how much representation matters. I have little cousins and relatives who have hair like mine who wish for dolls and fairy tale princesses with hair like theirs. I have heard stories from friends who recounted tales of how happy their nieces were when they got a colouring book of people with natural hair in it. Representation matters because it validates your experiences. It shows little children that they are normal too, that they are not “other”. It lets them know that the hair that they have is gorgeous and good. It reminds them that they are perfect as they are and that they do not have to have a certain skin colour, hair colour or texture to be beautiful. It shows them that people like them can be anything whether it’s a dinosaur owning superhero like Moon Girl or a toy doctor like Doc McStuffins. As the natural hair movement gains popularity, the amount and variety of representation available grows for little children with natural hair grows. This is a beautiful thing and is definitely something to celebrate, support and encourage. Below are some ways to encourage and support natural hair representation:

  1. Buy colouring books full of little naturalistas for kids like Colour My Fro by Crystal Swain-Bates.
  2. Support a kickstarter campaign for a comics or books with naturalistas in them.
  3. Buy black dolls with natural textured hair like the “Angelica” Doll by Naturally perfect dolls and Healthy Roots dolls, which is currently having a kickstarter (at the time of publishing).
  4. Show young naturalistas kids TV shows and cartoons with characters with natural hairstyles like Moon Girl or even old classics with Susie Carmichael from Rugrats.
  5. Get illustrated books with young naturalistas in them, bonus points if people of colour have illustrated the books.
  6. Sing lullabies her natural hair and features. It’s one way of including affirmations into your routines and raising her self esteem.

So what do you think? Do you have young naturalistas in your life that are looking for representation? What products have you come across that you would recommend? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Frances Uhomoibhi
I am a 20-something Naturalista with a love for all things Black. I love writing, spoken word, and doing social justice work. Living in London, I hope to help young black girls to love their beauty inside and out.

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