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Author Tami Wong drew on her own experience with alopecia when writing the picture book.
“I hid my hair loss for many years because I was ashamed of it,” shares Vancouverite Tami Wong, the author of recently launched children’s book Hair Pride. Wong was first diagnosed with alopecia at the age of 15, and says that it made her feel very self-conscious and insecure: “I had no one to talk to.” Now, she’s celebrating hair in all of it’s forms through her debut book, which launched earlier this month.
Hair Pride is a rhyming picture book written by Wong and illustrated by Amanda Dowell. It’s based around the following refrain:
Black, brown, blonde, red
You’re more than just what’s on your head
Curly, straight, thick, thin
Your beauty comes from what’s within
The book launched almost exactly a year after Wong was laid off from her job working in patient advocacy for a pharma biotech company. “In my career in healthcare, I never had time to really dig into that creative side,” she says. With more time on her hands than usual, she began to write—a practice she’d loved in high school. “I wanted to write a book about my life for my kids,” says the author, who has two young daughters. “One night, as I was trying to fall asleep, it just came to me—I want to write a book about hair.”
A quick flip through the Hair Pride‘s pages will reveal children doing things that Wong’s daughters love to do: think playing soccer, climbing trees and building puzzles. And importantly, the kids pictured have lots of different kinds of hair—different colours, different textures, some with a lot of hair, some with none at all. “The core message is that you are enough just as you are: love yourself, love your hair and know that your worth comes from what’s inside of you,” says the author.
At her Vancouver book launch at Wilet earlier this month, Wong read the story aloud and brought wigs for kids to try on. “I wanted to raise awareness and say, ‘This is a wig, this is what it looks like, I wear one every day and there’s a lot of other people out there who do too—and it can be fun.'”
Wong self-published her book via IngramSpark, and it’s available now on Amazon and in the States at Barnes and Noble, Target and Walmart. When it comes to getting the book into local stores, it’s a game of consumer demand—if you or a child you know is interested in Hair Pride, ask your friendly neighbourhood bookstore.
“I’m really excited to be able to put something into the world that is positive, and that I can show my kids,” says Wong.