How can a girl love her hair when no one else around her does?
Marlene is at her least favorite place – the hair salon. She has beautiful, thick, curly hair, but according to everyone around her it needs to be tamed. Marlene’s visit to the salon is a weekly ritual, but this day is special, because she’s getting her hair done for her cousin’s quinceañera. It hurts Marlene both physically and emotionally to have her curls forced into submission. Her mother tells Marlene repeatedly that anything other than straight hair is unacceptable, and that natural hair is bad hair. Reverence for straight hair has been passed down for generations in Marlene’s family as well as in their Dominican community. The compliments she gets on her straightened hair don’t make her feel any better. Even when having fun, Marlene is reminded of the problem – she dances joyfully at the quince but she sweats and her hair goes back to its natural, curly state. This upsets her mother even more. Supported by her best friend Camila, Marlene tries unsuccessfully to wear her curls, but gets bullied at school and punished by her mother. Marlene finally finds an ally in her Tia Ruby – but will it be enough to overcome generations of valuing “good hair”?
This graphic novel is more than a story of a girl learning to care for her hair. It addresses the generational damage the concept of “good hair” has done to so many communities. Importantly, it does not shy away from the fact that it is rooted in anti-blackness. The lessons Tia Ruby gives Marlene are a good real-life guide for curly-haired readers. The wonderful art showing Marlene’s hair in various stages of curliness are distinct and accurate. Facial expressions and body language showing the range of emotions everyone experiences are powerful. Despite her struggles, there is a lot of fun in this book as we watch Marlene dare to accept and celebrate her curls.
Find Frizzy at your local bookstore or comic book shop.