UPPER MARLBORO – Countless conversations unfolded in a sun-filled field near The Show Place Arena on July 31, during Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin’s sixth annual Family & Friends Day.
Prince George’s County’s business owners and nonprofit community leaders interacted with attendees, who obtained information and discovered resources while they enjoyed food, live entertainment, music and games.
Eleven-year-old Alexis Proctor’s banner depicting her, “Lexi P.,” holding a book and wearing a crown atop her head was positioned among rows of everything from fitness to financial service companies. Her pleasant demeanor encouraged browsers to stop and hear her interesting story of empowering other girls at a young age while embarking on a relatively new journey as a writer.
As her mother, Monica Proctor, sat beside the student from Accokeek, the author explained that her coloring book called “Curly Girls Love Your Curls” integrates messages of girls loving their curly hair and being self-confident, no matter what people say about it.
Proctor’s book was released in April.
Proctor, who will begin sixth grade in the fall, recalled times when other students made comments about her big hair in kindergarten. Experiences of being bullied led to an empowering vehicle to remind other girls to love their curly hair, too.
“In kindergarten, I didn’t like my hair because people always said, ‘get your big head out of the way. Your hair is too big. I can’t see.’ They would say all of these negative things to bring my confidence down, but as I got into the first grade, and I moved onto the next grade, my mom taught me how to be confident,” she said. “My mom told me it doesn’t matter what (a commenter) says, it matters how you feel. So when people would say, ‘oh, your hair is too big,’… I wouldn’t care anymore. That’s how I started to like my hair.”
Proctor also loves to read. After she was unable to find a book about curly hair, the creative spirit decided that she wanted to write a book about curly-haired girls so they could be proud of their hair just like she is today. After she made her decision to share pieces of her personal story, details began to take shape.
“It’s a coloring book because I wanted girls to make it their own,” Proctor said. “I personally like coloring, so I wanted to make it a coloring book and be different.”
Her mother pens fiction books. Monica was able to help edit her daughter’s book and support her literary debut.
“(Alexis) saw me writing my own book, and so from there she said, ‘Mommy, I want to write a book, too,’ so I made sure she was serious about it. I said, ‘Come back to me when I see some writing,’ so she showed me her journals, and from there, you know, she had my full support,” Monica said. “She is definitely invested in it. I see her working very hard toward it and she’s even expressed different opportunities that she’s interested in that she’s found on her own, so I feel like it is something that she’s serious about.”
Monica said her daughter’s confidence and public speaking skills have improved since meeting readers of all ages. Most of all, she loves her daughter’s willingness to connect with other young ladies.
“A lot of parents have come to me also just thanking us both for having this initiative of putting it out there for girls to embrace their natural hair,” Monica said, highlighting a key message of the coloring book. “It doesn’t matter if you have straight, wavy or curly hair, just love who you are the way you are, because that’s how God made you uniquely you for a reason.”
The author of “Curly Girls Love Your Curls” said she has noticed that other girls she knows are starting to wear their curly hair out after purchasing her coloring book. Not only have mothers purchased it for their daughters, but men and boys have purchased the book for people in their families, and to even keep a copy for themselves.
Proctor is working on more books about hair and bullying. Visit www.curlanistas.com for information about “Curly Girls Love Your Curls.”