I was a teenager before the Internet was a thing, so the inspiration for my hairstyles came from Hype Hair and Black 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 from afro puffs to twists and locks, 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’s on a mission to help young girls learn to love their crown.
Growing up, Grant had a complicated relationship with her hair. One of three girls, the Toronto native was born to Jamaican parents on opposite ends of the hair spectrum. ‘My dad was a dread, and my mother was a conformist with regards to pressing her hair,” she said. “When I think about my childhood, I don’t have many memories of putting my hands in my hair. My sisters and I got our hair [braided] for school and pressed 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 says, was both a blessing and a curse. “I could always have my hair done. But it didn’t allow me to learn about my hair and style my natural hair,” she said. And although she wanted to embrace her natural hair, Grant says she tended to hide behind her weave as a teenager.
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Grant said she only felt beautiful when she was wearing weaves and wigs. But the COVID-19 pandemic kept her from her regular salon appointments and forced her to explore different hairstyles and products on her own. And when she learned she was expecting a child, she wanted to make sure her daughter had a different relationship with her hair. “I told myself that when my child was born, I was going to raise her to love 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 love to see what’s happening with this new generation. They stand for their crown and their curls in their natural state,” she said. “I just want to be able to support that and contribute to that self-love.”
“I know how much I loved being able to touch those hair magazines and how cool it made me feel,” she said. “We just illustrated that 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 feel of the 90s hair magazines will bring back memories for parents.
Grant says her natural hair journey is still evolving, but Hello Hair is helping her to unlearn some of the unhealthy feelings she had about her natural hair growing up. “This has been the most therapeutic part of this process for me. I am literally a child again. I’m serving the little child who was so afraid to embrace her crown,” she said.
Grant hopes her book creates a safe space for people to talk about natural hair and puts an end to the hair rules. “Those conversations about hair type can be more divisive than educational. I understand that caring for natural hair is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and I feel that we need to be more graceful to the community,” she said. “Supporting each other requires you to be judgment-free.”
You can get your copy of Hello Hair online at www.hellohairbook.com.