Collab Victoire de Castellane & Nathalie Azoulai, bad hair day?
J’aime pas mes cheveux is an extremely funny, poetic picture book about accepting oneself written by Nathalie Azoulai and illustrated by Victoire de Castellane.
Author Nathalie Azoulai and jewellery designer Victoire de Castellane, both famous in their respective fields, have been friends since they first met at the seaside. Now they’ve co-produced an exquisite tale for children. “What I had in mind was the story of a little girl who didn’t like her hair, who wanted to change her hairstyle, who dreamt of having a fringe,” says Nathalie. “And to illustrate it, I immediately thought of Victoire. I liked the idea that she wasn’t a children’s book illustrator, that she would look at the project differently.” At the time, on her Instagram account, the jewellery designer was having fun adding sketches of herself alongside American celebrities, parodying the current obsession with selfies. People found her signature trait, her playful, minimal line, both appealing and amusing.
But does anyone like their hair?
One writes the words; the other replies with illustrations. Conversation flows freely between Nathalie and Victoire and their game of ping-pong soon gives rise to the story of a little girl whose hair had proved a disappointment to her parents since she was born. When she cuts herself a fringe, against her parents’s wishes, she feels like a queen, a princess, and becomes a decision-maker whom everyone copies – even the hilarious hair professor! Faces disappear behind curtains of hair – which becomes a character in the story in its own right. But as she eyes her friends’ heads of hair, our young heroine is still unhappy: whether straight, curly or plaited, no matter what texture or style, she would give anything to have hair that didn’t look like her own! Fortunately, she is soon reassured; she finds out that her mother has the same problem: she also dreamt of having different hair. And her grandmother with such a chic white chignon? She, too, longed for hair other than her own, but having mellowed as she grew older, she manages to console her granddaughter about her unruly – but adorable – locks.
Learning to like oneself
On a deeper level, this good-humoured story gives food for thought. “Hair is a reflection of our personality, but it is also the only physical aspect we can really transform. If our hair drives us crazy, there’s still hope! When we change our hairstyle, we change our whole look. “It’s a book meant to reassure hundreds of little girls who dislike their hair and who, more generally, have difficulty accepting themselves as they are,” explain the two authors in unison. In fact, the symbolic charge of hair is colossal: Samson drew his strength from his; Venus owed her beauty to hers; Victoire de Castellane’s fringe has been integral to her identity since she was six months old. “My mother decided that a fringe would suit me and I accepted that. I’ve always worn a fringe. It’s part of me. It’s become my logo. But from ten onwards, I experimented with all the colours in the rainbow!” she remembers with a smile. Nathalie Azoulai, meanwhile, has always battled with her frizzy hair: “I wanted hair like my neighbour’s; I desperately yearned for a fringe… This book is like a fantasy and I hope that it will help little girls to relax and accept themselves.” I’m pretty sure that not only will discontent youngsters take heart from this delightful book but that their mothers will also enjoy reading it.
nathalie azoulai and victoire de castellane, j’aime pas mes cheveux, albin michel jeunesse