Lo­cal girl mo­ti­vates oth­ers by cre­at­ing col­or­ing book about nat­u­ral hair

Maryland Independent - - News - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

Ac­co­keek res­i­dent Alexis Proc­tor could not find a book about lov­ing her nat­u­ral hair, so she did the un­think­able. She wrote a col­or­ing book that would help mo­ti­vate her and make her ap­pre­ci­ate her own curly, un­pro­cessed hair. Lit­tle did she know it would take the coun­try by storm.

Proc­tor, 12, a sixth grader at Ac­co­keek Acad­emy, is the au­thor of “Curly Girls Love Your Curls.” The col­or­ing book about nat­u­ral hair came out in April and has been fea­tured in Essence Mag­a­zine.

“My goal with this book is to help lit­tle girls know that they should just love them­selves and love they way they are,” Proc­tor said. “I know a lot of girls do not like their hair and they wish it was a cer­tain way. As I was grow­ing up I did not like my hair and I could not find a book about curly hair or just hair in gen­eral, so I wanted to write a book about it.”

In the in­ter­ac­tive col­or­ing book, Alexis shares a pos­i­tive mes­sage about nat­u­ral hair that shows the im­por­tance of self-es­teem. The beau­ti­fully il- lus­trated story teaches a les­son for all “curly girls,” young and old, to em­brace their coils and locks in a fun and mem­o­rable way.

The book’s il­lus­tra­tor, Tra- ci Baker Jack­son, made sure the char­ac­ters and the col­ors ap­pealed to kids and cap­tured that par­tic­u­lar au­di­ence. She said Alexis was so cute, outgoing, mo­ti­vated and very clear on what she wanted in the col- or­ing book.

“As a graphic de­signer I’ve cre­ated char­ac­ters with nat­u­ral hair be­fore, but I’ve never il­lus- trated for a nat­u­ral hair col­or­ing book be­fore,” Baker Jack­son said. “Be­ing a black woman my- self I iden­tify with kids wanting to have things look more like them. I hope the book makes us all com­fort­able and ready to em­brace what­ever it is that God gave us. I also hope that peo­ple are sup­port­ive of a young girl be­ing pos­i­tive and try­ing to make a pos­i­tive im­pact.”

Baker Jack­son said she loved the con­cept from the first time she spoke with Proc­tor, and it’s been em­braced by kids since its launch.

Proc­tor said the main char- ac­ter was cre­ated to look like her­self: with long, curly, nat­u­ral hair. The other char­ac­ters are unique young girls, one child with freck­les and one child with red hair, which you might not see in other books to­day.

Her mother, Mon­ica Glee Proc­tor, said she has al­ways kept her daugh­ter’s hair nat­u­ral, mean­ing hair tex­ture that hasn’t been al­tered by chem­i­cal straight­en­ers, in­clud­ing re­lax- ers and “tex­tur­iz­ers,” a mild form of re­laxer.

“I wanted to put a tex­tur­izer in her hair but she fought me not to do it and I am glad that she did,” Mon­ica said. “I wanted her to be com­fort­able with her own hair. I didn’t want to put what my hus­band and I wanted for her on her. I didn’t want her to have her hair straight and not like it.”

Alexis’ par­ents are ex­tremely proud of her suc­cess and grateful that the book has touched so many lives.

“I love the book,” said Glenn Proc­tor, Alexis’ fa­ther. “I’m just so amazed that she put this book to­gether and wrote it. The pas­sion she put into it, I’m just in awe of it. All the re­sponses she’s been get­ting [are] amaz- ing. I thought she was writ­ing the book for just her­self. I had no idea it would be for the masses and see­ing it take off has been amaz­ing.”

“Par­ents have writ­ten us back say­ing that her book has re­ally helped their daugh­ters or nieces when peo­ple bully them about their hair,” Mon­ica said. “Just get­ting that feed­back makes all of us feel good. God made all of this hap­pen for a rea­son. She has a very im­por­tant mes­sage to share. Mothers keep telling me they wish they had some­thing like this when they were grow­ing up.”

Alexis said lov­ing her hair has not been an easy process and now that she has gained more con­fi­dence, her hair makes her feel like a “su­per­star.” She is still amazed at the suc­cess of her book and re­mem­bers be­ing in shock that her col­or­ing book was men­tioned in Essence Mag­a­zine.

“I love Essence Mag­a­zine,” she said. “It’s one of my fa­vorite mag­a­zines and when I was grow­ing up that’s what my mom would have al­ways read. Know­ing that Bey­once, Michelle Obama and Oprah Win­frey have been fea­tured be­fore in the same mag­a­zine is just so amaz­ing.”

She plans to con­tinue writ­ing a se­ries of books that will help kids be safe and love them­selves. She has al­ready writ­ten her sec­ond book, “The Ice Cream Talk,” about lov­ing your skin color.

It is cur­rently be­ing il­lus­trated with plans to pub­lish it in Fe­bru­ary.

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