My Hair Grows Like A Tree – Tamika Phillip

“Tami, I don’t understand your hair”. This question is the start of a seemingly short but deep journey into the world of a woman’s hair, what it means, or whether it should mean anything and its connection to the earth.

A book written for young girls and women, it tries to show the connection between the earth, the trees, the mountains, the sun, the rain; and our bodies and hair.

Tamika’s short book is written in very easy to read verse. It’s an informative tract as well as a guide for the reader to think more about hair. The questions themselves are written as poetry. It is the kind of poetry that is tranquil and non-distracting for a young reader.

Quite intriguing is its style. The cover of the book is at the back and to read you have to start from the back going to the front. Right to left, like Arabic. In a way it teaches us that a “hairstory” has history; that we must not look on things as they are but attempt to see where they start. So going backwards was sort of like going back in time.

It is well illustrated. Given that each page is a topic of sorts about hair, it is accompanied by an illustration. It is a given that any book for a young reader helps to have images to engage the visual understanding. While the illustrations go on to highlight historical names whose hair is drawn on as lessons; for example, Hatshepsut of Egypt; a lot of them are actually hairstyles. From Tamika’s point of view, each hairstyle is a certain way to illustrate a connection; whether to the earth or the sun or the wind.

For all women who love their “enviri-nacho” and who would love their daughters and sisters and friends to understand that it is more than the looks, “My Hair Grows like a Tree” is a good book to read!

Tamika Phillip is a Trinidadian who has worked and lived in the United States, Jamaica, Italy, Ethiopia, London, Egypt and presently live in Turkey. It wouldn’t be illogical to thus adduce that her book draws on all the women she has met and the meanings of their hair!

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