“Bad Hair Does Not Exist” is a new bilingual children’s book that encourages young black, Afro-Latino and multi racial girls to see their hair as beautiful.
Sulma Arzu-Brown, who calls herself a “Garifuna” woman or Afro-Latino from Honduras, was inspired to write the book after her three-year-old daughter’s babysitter commented that Bella Victoria had “pelo malo,” which is a Spanish term for “bad hair.”
She knew then that she could either be angry or become a part of the solution, so she chose to the latter.
“The book is a tool of cultural solidarity and a tool of empowerment for all of our little girls,” said Arzu-Brown whose daughters are now 4 and 11. “The term ‘Bad hair’ or ‘Pelo Malo’ is divisive to both community and family, and can contribute to low self-esteem.”
Arzu-Brown said her older daughter, Suleni, began telling her that she wanted straight hair after seeing so many images of girls with straight hair on TV. She would tell her daughter that her hair was beautiful while at the same time getting her own hair chemically straightened.
“One day I went and cut it all off. I came home and this little girl took a sigh of relief and said, ‘Mommy we finally look alike.’ I didn’t realize what a power of influence I was in my daughter’s life until I found out that she struggled to look like me.”
“I walk into a Dominican hair salon and the employees are talking about me. I can hear them talk about my pelo malo,” Mirna Martinez-Santiago, 43, and host of The Opinion Talk Show told NBC Latino. “I tell them there is nothing wrong with my hair, and they are shocked that I can understand them. I try to educate people, but the best way to educate people is just by being.”
Arzu-Brown hopes to prevent instances like this and hopes that her book will help educate people and promote high self-esteem for girls.
“When the book is in their hands it takes the power away from media and they start to take ownership of the beauty they see in the mirror,” said Arzu-Brown.
You can purchase your copy for $9.95 on Amazon.