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7 min read

Holiday fairy tales can teach us about acceptance through hair identity

Holiday fairy tales can teach us about acceptance through hair identity

During the holiday season, the things we remember best are the stories we grew up with. Fairytales shaped our ability to dream and taught us about possibility and potential while they reflected the spirit of the holidays.

Being read a story at night or watching one come to life in a movie is a cherished tradition during the holiday season. Theses stories connect and resonate with us by conveying emotion through imagery. We see ourselves in the characters we read about. 

Now, more than ever, representation is playing an integral part in children’s literature. Publishers are doing their part not only to inspire dreams but also to promote acceptance of others and ourselves. And stories using hair in the narrative have become a powerful trend, shaping the future of our children and how they feel about themselves. 

Stories about hair: Then and now 

Let’s look at the evolution of the role of hair in stories from then to now and how it’s not only changed but how it has also become a wonderful way to teach people to accept who they are and to dream of their unlimited potential. 

No article that focuses on hair and children’s literature would be complete without a mention of Rapunzel. This classic fairytale is the mother of all hair heroines with the beautiful princess trapped in a tower with only her hair and a handsome prince to save her. 

The tale focuses on the beauty and strength of long hair, and variations of the tale have been around since at least 1634. Its long-lasting popularity can’t be denied, so much so that there’s an updated version of the story aptly titled, If Rapunzel Were Rachelle

A woman reading a book in the forest

The new iteration of the classic tale takes curly-haired Rachelle on a journey of self-love, confidence, and liberation. This story and her bouncy, beautiful curls, will resonate with children who identify similarly, creating a foundation for inspiration. 

The Gift of the Magi

Who can forget the couple who loved each other so much that they were willing to give up their prized possessions to get their beloved a Christmas gift? He parted with his cherished watch, she–her hair. This O. Henry tale is not just about the depth of love but also about the value of hair, both actual value, and as an intrinsic part of how we see others and ourselves. 

Hairs/Pelitos

This bilingual book tells the story about a family of six and their unconditional love for each other, despite their own differences. The narrator centers the story on hair and its distinct connections to culture. "My papa's hair is like a broom, all up in the air. And me, my hair is lazy. It never obeys barrettes or bands,” she says. 

The story celebrates individuality but also our bonds with family, and the connections we make when embracing our differences, whether in hair or language or customs. 

Hair Love

Another book earning huge raves is the Matthew A. Cherry book, which came about after the author watched a series of videos about Black fathers doing their daughters’ hair. Black fatherhood is seldom reflected in media, which is what makes this book so important. 

A man braiding his daughter's hair

Not only is this story a celebration of the love between a father and daughter, but it was also a lesson in learning about each other. It dives into gender roles, culture, and it also depicts images of many different hairstyles. 

Crazy hair

Written in true Neil Gaiman style, this fun, and whimsical book is a treat for little ones and sure to be a hair-spiration, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. 

This is not just another story celebrating individuality and the beauty in difference, though this is not a bad thing. Everything lives in crazy hair, and suddenly it’s not so wild and unkempt, it’s a thing of awe and mystery. Geared for the younger crowd, this will be an instant bedtime favorite if it isn’t already.

Don’t touch my hair

This cute story by Sharee Miller does a wonderful job of teaching about personal boundaries, but at the same time, it hits home with self-acceptance and self-love. 

Whether your Black child has hair that others just want to touch, or if they’re the one that does the touching, this is a really nice story that shares the frustrations of not being respected and the importance of boundaries and consent. 

Big hair, don’t care

Is there a greater title than this? Crystal Swain-Bates spells it all out from the outset. Lola has huge hair, HUGE, yet she doesn’t care. 

A woman smiling

The book is full of self-love and acceptance; it’s impossible not to get caught up in the spirit of it. If you know any little one who is struggling to fit in or is having challenges with their self-image, this is the book to inspire them to embrace who they are and how they look. 

Big wig: A little history of hair

If you’re looking for a book about hair that trends a little bit older, this is it. It takes the topic of hair in a different direction by providing some fun insights that make all hair seem weird and normal at the same time. 

From learning about queens who wore beards in Ancient Egypt to Queen Elizabeth I’s fixation on red wigs, to today’s books that represent the children reading them, this book is full of information that highlights the importance of letting go of trends and embracing your true hair-self.

Final thoughts

As you can see, hair has always held power, connection, and bonding. It’s a particularly dominant feature, and embracing it goes a long way toward making self-acceptance part of your life. The good news is that there are now the tools to begin teaching little ones, early on, that they have the right to be happy being who they are. 

Hair in children’s literature has changed from something that held strength and value into something that defines your inner strength and value. It’s no longer the hair that’s special, but it’s the person behind it. 

In fact, the idea of having perfect and gorgeous hair is no longer a feature of stories; the bigger, the crazier, the more unruly it is, the more it shows your inner acceptance and value. You can’t find a better contribution to the holiday season than with one of these books.

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    At Hair La Vie, we know that your hair is an integral part of how you present yourself to the world and shape your authentic style.

    Join our private Facebook Community for a safe, human-moderated space to share your Hair Journey, discover new natural beauty, and take steps towards becoming “you” with the help of an understanding, supportive community.

    Join now for instant access to livestreams, discussions, and exclusive access to new products!

    JOIN THE GROUP