Why I Wrote Bushyhead

Bushyhead is available on Amazon

Our youngest daughter Meadow has the most glorious head of hair. It got curlier and bushier as she got older, and had a will of its own. We were going to make sure she loved her hair. It was going to be different from my own childhood where society made me feel that my curly hair was less than perfect. I spent years wishing for straighter hair. We wanted Meadow to embrace her natural curls and not feel as though her hair needed to be fixed. 

Meadow and her beautiful curls

As parents, we can only do so much. Society takes over. At daycare, a black woman approached me and told me she could help me with products to tame Meadow’s hair. I know she was trying to be helpful but it sent the wrong message. Then on another occasion, a South Asian hairdresser told me she could put in a chemical just to tame Meadow’s hair a little to make it easier for me. 

“No. It’s okay,” I said thinking this was the last thing I’d do.

“Really, it will still be curly but not as much.”

“No, thank you. We like it like this.” I looked at Meadow hoping she wasn’t thinking something was wrong with her hair.

“It will be much easier for you. It won’t take long,” the hair dresser insisted.

“Nope. Definitely not. Her hair is perfect as it is.”

I could control situations where this happened and explain to Meadow that her hair didn’t need taming and straightening. It didn’t need fixing. But I’d forgotten I couldn’t control the school yard. She was teased because of her hair. So were my nieces Elya and Jisele. They were told they couldn’t be princesses from ages three and four.  Princesses, they were told, didn’t have curly hair. As adults, we see the illogic in this but little girls can’t. As Meadow got older, the teasing got worse. She was told her hair was doo doo hair, shit hair.

I remember the day she got pink and purple braids. She felt like a princess until she went to school and was harassed by the class bully who got people to taunt her and call her the name of some rapper with pink and purple braids because she dared to be different. “They teased me all day long,” she said when she came home. This continued for many days until it escalated to a point where things got physical and I found myself on the phone with the principal trying to solve a difficult situation. 

This narrative that curly hair is somehow less-than needs to change. It doesn’t matter that some people say, “but I love curly hair.” It’s embedded in our psyche. I read a sci-fi book where perfect humans were created and to make them perfect, their curls were removed. This is nonsense and pisses me off. We’re born with what we have. A world where everyone looks the same would be incredibly boring. Let’s give each other the freedom to wear our hair the way we want. I’m the first to admit I haven’t always felt this way. I remember going to Fiji in 1993 and seeing all these women with Afros. My initial thought was, “Haven’t they heard of hair relaxer, cream, rollers, hot irons?” It was not the norm for me to see black women wearing their hair naturally in the 1990s. But I’ve changed.

This is why I wrote Bushyhead. This book has been within me for a very long time. As I release it into the world, I hope that the message is clear: curls, coils, and kinks are beautiful and don’t need fixing.

11 replies
  1. Rachel Baker
    Rachel Baker says:

    Thank you for this book and this message. I’ve had all the same experiences and have made sure my children know how wonderfully beautiful their curls are…no matter what messages society tries to give them. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

    • Peta-Gaye Nash
      Peta-Gaye Nash says:

      Thanks for your support Rach. Yes, you were always great at embracing your kids. It’s not easy when you’re straddling two cultures and the different messages kids receive from those said cultures. The learning never ends.

  2. Lorraine
    Lorraine says:

    You are right—we are perfect as created! I remember your hair ordeals in middle school and what a vibrant, confident and beloved girl you transformed into the summer you embraced the authentic you. It’s a story I have shared with my daughters, and I am so proud of your example! An autobiographical children’s story would be a great children’s/teens’ book!

    • Peta-Gaye Nash
      Peta-Gaye Nash says:

      Thank you Lorraine. Your support means the world to me. We shared so many experiences during that time. I’m still transforming. LOL Learning how to deal with those negative voices that tell you, “you can’t.”

  3. Beverly McGrane
    Beverly McGrane says:

    I rejoice in the family I had growing up in Jamaica – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends I have had all my life. Diversity of people was so normal so skin color and hair was not a big deal. We dealt with what God gave us.

    • Beverly McGrane
      Beverly McGrane says:

      I rejoice in the family I had growing up in Jamaica – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends I have had all my life. Diversity of people was so normal so skin color and hair was not a big deal. We dealt with what God gave us.

      • Peta-Gaye Nash
        Peta-Gaye Nash says:

        Thanks for sharing, Bev. Yes, we did have a good childhood in Jamaica, but unfortunately there are many people there who are bleaching their skin and they still talk about good hair and bad hair. I was always told I had good hair, but this is the kind of thinking that I’d like to make people aware of and to change this way of thinking into something that serves us in a more positive way.

    • Peta-Gaye Nash
      Peta-Gaye Nash says:

      Thank you Raji. I really believe in this message and I think it is applicable for so many countries and cultures.

  4. Rosalie Fontaine
    Rosalie Fontaine says:

    Absolutely true Peta Gaye. Embracing our hair, our colour, our histories is the path to ourselves. If only we had learned that from childhood and not been battered by the societal negativity of blackness. Thanks for writing these awesome books.

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