Monet Timmons is one our two 2017 Writers-in-Residence. Read this exciting piece on books about natural hair care by Ms. Timmons.
Recently, more Black women have been choosing to wear their natural hair, free from chemical processing with a focus on maintaining hair health. This trend has been gaining more attention as hair care lines like Pantene and others add more products that are geared toward Black women and as celebrities like Taraji P. Henson grace the cover of Glamour magazine sporting natural styles. Even YouTube offers an array of instructional videos from various sources on how to style and care for natural hair.
In the late 1960s, Black women began wearing Afros as a form of political resistance to Western beauty standards. The hair style was a form of political protest and a social declaration of owning one’s position in the world apart from larger societal conventions. While this idea of protest may have been the case for Black women of the 21st century, most Black women today are transitioning to their natural hair styles and textures for health reasons: natural hair, for Black women, is healthy hair.
Natural hair care for Black women is part of a half-billion dollar industry focused on obtaining healthy hair as opposed to achieving any one style or hair texture. Black women are essentially reinventing themselves and reclaiming an identity that society’s beauty standards have tried to erase from them for centuries through their hair. Black girls and women become inspired when they see other Black women rocking their natural hair with confidence, especially famous Black women, and are reminded that not only is it okay to have a tight curl pattern, it is also healthy and beautiful.
Recently, literature has become another area where the hair care of Black women is making an indelible mark. Where there were once very few, if any, we now see more publishers cornering the market of Black hair care and publishing books that offer advice on self-care, as well as books that are self-esteem affirming for children— and they are reaping the financial rewards for doing so.
Here is a list of five books for every age and stage of the natural hair care journey that are not just for Black women readers. These books are for all audiences and vary from children’s books, to styling and health care, to the politics of natural hair. Many women, particularly non-black women who have curly hair and really want advice on care and styling also cite these books as a necessary part of an industry that is just starting to recognize diversity is profitable.
I Love My Hair, Natasha Tarpley
Tarpley’s children’s book tells the story of a young African American girl named Keyana who has a hard time accepting the coily texture of her hair. In order to uplift her daughter, Keyana’s mother reminds her daughter of the versatility of her hair.
The Politics of Black Women’s Hair, Althea Prince
Prince’s non-fiction book explores a variety of narratives from Black women across the diaspora on their physical as well as emotional hair journeys. In addition, Prince highlights the important role hair plays in the relationship between mother and daughter, while delving into the ways in which society views Black women’s hair.
Byrd’s book looks at the evolution of Black hair before the Atlantic slave trade to the present presenting trends at styles during certain time periods. Simultaneously, Byrd reveals how these historical notions may explain why African Americans today may have a tough relationship with their hair.
Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair, Chris-Tia Donaldson
Donaldson’s book gears towards Black women who are new to the natural hair community as well as towards women who are transitioning from permed hair to natural hair. The books also provides home remedies and tips for healthy hair care.
Mullen’s book describes a variety of natural hairstyles that parents can use on their children with coily or kinky hair textures. The books also equips parents with detailed step-by-step instructions on intricate hair styles such as twists, box braids, and cornrows.