Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 2nd 2015 Contents women, both sculptures of women
and women from different tribes.
Phillip asks the readers what
they have in common with the
women in the picture in an attempt
to get girls to appreciate their cul-
tural and historical ancestry. "Like
trees, our hair grows from our
However, while Phillip s ideas
around body positive imagery were
brilliant, her execution left much
to be desired. The workbook lit-
erally felt like an essay-type ques-
tion on each page, and I wonder
if children look forward to extra
work after they come home from
school? As a child the last thing
I would want is more homework
in my leisure reading.
I also wonder if young girls are
able to appreciate her work. While
the layout of the book may appeal
to young children, the level of
questions and metaphors in the
book may be too advanced for chil-
dren and some young adults.
I also do not think Phillip gave
much thought into her readership
and the impact her book would
have on them. In the preamble of
the book, Phillip said the book was
written with mothers and daugh-
ters in mind so that the adults
could help young girls learn about
themselves and the Earth.
While it is great to have a book
that helps mothers encourage their
daughters to love their hair, I think
she neglects to acknowledge that
some of these women may have
gone through decades of self-
loathing towards their own hair
and thus found it difficult to help
their daughters along. I hope par-
ents, particularly mothers, pick up
the book and together discover the
love of their own hair, but we do
live in a society where older women
frequently tell younger women to
maintain the status quo when it
comes to their hair.
Despite the shortcomings, I hope
people read and appreciate My
Hair Grows Like a Tree. I grew up
on books that depicted only white
girls with blue or purple eyes who
have straight hair that was either
red or blond. I never saw myself
in a literary character as a child,
and still rarely see the represen-
tation of women with different
shades and hair textures as an
adult, especially in pop literature.
Representation matters and I hope
that more authors follow Phillip s
example and write more stories
celebrating the natural beauty of
all different types of women.
My Hair Grows Like a Tree is
available in Trinidad at all Cher-
Mere locations, Body Beautiful
on Ariapita Avenue and RIK
Bookstores from April.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, April 2, 2015
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It always perturbs me that in the
21st Century in the Caribbean many
women are still negatively criticised
about their hair. I am particularly
astounded by the way people treat
women who have tight curly hair that
is not chemically straightened.
Some women have been told that
natural hair is not professional. Some
have been told that they do not have
"good hair," and some forms of hairstyles
have been outright banned in institu-
While I cannot recall a recent reported
incident in Trinidad of women being
shamed for their natural hair, there was
an incident last year in Barbados which
made regional news of a school that
forbid natural hairstyles and told a senior
student that her hairstyle was too
"unsettling and flamboyant" for school.
The constant policing of women s
natural hair has become such a point
of concern that I wonder why women
are taught to hate the hair that they are
born with. However, one author is
attempting to celebrate women s natural
hair by linking natural hair to the majestic
beauty of trees.
When I first picked up Tamika Phillip s
book My Hair Grows Like a Tree, I was
truly excited. Finally, I thought, a book
that aims to empower young girls to
love their hair.
My Hair Grows Like a Tree is a work-
book-styled children s book that helps
teach young girls how to love their nat-
ural hair. In her note to the readers,
Phillip says the book series is "for young
girls and women to learn about them-
selves and the Earth."
The book is printed back to front, and
I suspect it is her attempt to invert the
way natural hair is perceived in society.
Each page has a picture of a young girl
with her hair growing like a tree.
One picture shows a girl depicted as
a tree, comparing the girl s body to the
different properties of a tree.
It reads, "Like the pipelines of a tree
trunk my cells feed energy from my
body to my hair. The Earth in and
around you, the outer layer of a trunk
is to a tree as your skin is to your body."
The body positive perspective of
Phillip s book is very admirable as she
deals with both the many different
types of hair and ancestral heritage
many women with naturally curly hair
One picture shows a girl whose hair
is depicted as Africa and inside of the
continent there are pictures of different
One of the illustrations from My Hair
Grows Like A Tree.
REVIEW: MY HAIR GROWS LIKE A TREE
Book helps girls love their natural hair
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