Publisher: First Second
It’s not often I get to find books that I can truly say “relate” to me. Frizzy is first and foremost a reminder that representation matters. While I don’t have the 1 to 1 personal experiences of being Afro-Latina, there is a solid understanding as a Black person of what Marlene is going through in the story because I’ve been in similar experiences. (I may not have gone to salons, but I do vividly remember dedicated "Hair Days".)
Hair is important and sacred and matters so much both in a historical standpoint and in a way that it shouldn’t. Textured hair had cultural and safety significance in braided styles and then became the topic of what was and wasn’t appropriate in the workforce. Or rather, what was “good or bad” hair. And if you aren't aware about the situation that still goes on today, look up The Crown Act. (I even did some of the work and gave you a link).
Frizzy is such a great example of what anti-Blackness looks like through a child’s lens and how it affects them. We (specifically POC) all get older and learn those tell-tale signs of what racism is in the outside world and within your own family, but that doesn’t mean we don’t experience it from a young age. Sometimes it's through bullying. Sometimes it's through family's incessant need to nitpick how you look when you're not allowed to talk back.
Not having the words for it as a child can be frustrating and isolating when you’re told to “be good” and “do what you’re told”. And for this book to showcase that, being able to spread the message to all ages and all walks of life, is fantastic.
It takes a lot of confidence (again, specifically for Kids of Color) to talk to their parents about what’s bothering them when it comes to things that have such cultural or familial significance and Frizzy does such a nice job of showing that it’s very possible even if it’s hard. And that’s what a lot of kids need: to know that it may be tough, but it is possible to get through to their parents. There’s aspects of this story that Adults of Color can learn from too! Standards were placed on them, but they don’t always have to follow them. The trauma (and even ingrained anti-Blackness) of their upbringing shouldn’t be passed on to their children. It shouldn’t and we all can heal from it. Together.
There’s no such thing as “good or bad” hair. And what kids of color, especially the kids with textured, curly, and coily hair should know is that their hair is good and straight hair isn’t the default. The way the world wants you to look shouldn't matter more than how you should want to see yourself. (It shouldn't matter at all, but here we are.)
Without getting into a rant about eurocentric beauty standards that have been placed on all POC (straight hair, lighter skin and eyes, thinness, etc etc), I’ll end this by saying Frizzy is very uplifting and even healing for those kids that desperately wanted to (or are doing so now!) wear their curls natural and free. It’s shown in such a lighthearted and lovely artstyle too that reminds us that, yes, oftentimes there is doom and gloom with this topic, but it’s not always that way. Sometimes it’s just a child that really wants to be able to express themselves and needs help finding the language to do so. At the end of the day, kids just want to be, rather than be expected to withhold a standard they know so little about.
Yeah, Frizzy is a good story.