Empress of Coils
Lynn Graham wants children to embrace a truth that she didn’t fully grasp until well into adulthood: natural hair is beautiful and to be celebrated.
Graham, the founder of ClickUrban, a Black-owned business directory, and author of a new children’s book, “Empress of Coils,” is spreading the word to Black children and their parents that their hair is a crown and a thing of beauty – and it doesn’t need to change to fit anyone else’s definition of what is desirable. The book is empowering and designed to spark conversations between parents and children.
“At an early age, many young Black women are exposed to adverse perspectives on Black hair,” she said. “For much of the Black American experience, we’ve been encouraged to look as European as possible. Straightening our hair with chemicals or a hot comb was the only way a woman of color could really look presentable for a long time. If you wanted to be beautiful or wanted to have a good job, your hair better not look Black.”
Graham said that false standard is internalized by many. She didn’t embrace her own natural hair until just a few years ago. But she wants children to grow up with a different perspective.
“When I was younger, my mother styled my hair in braids and barrettes,” she said. “I used to swing my hair around like crazy. I loved it. It wasn’t until my mother administered by first relaxer on my hair – I think I was either 8 or 9 and she didn’t want to deal with the thickness and the combing and me crying and all that comes with having thick, coiled hair – that I started to feel like there was something wrong with my hair.”
And that message is all too common. Graham wants parents instead to focus on teaching their children to have the unshakeable self-confidence that comes from knowing and loving who they are.
In her book, which is based on her now 16-year-old daughter, Graham tells an engaging story that celebrates natural beauty – not the kind that fits an arbitrary standard – as well as the importance of culture in forging ahead toward adulthood. She said the oil-painted illustrations bring added value to the story, making this a book that can be passed down as lessons of confidence are taught. It is for all families who want to teach the beauty of diversity.
“If you are the parent of an African American child, girl or boy, I feel as though you are obligated to educate your child on specific topics that will uplift them in a world that does nothing but downgrade them day in and day out,” she said.
“Empress of Coils” is available on Amazon and at https://empressofcoils.com.