Tola Okogwu may be a hair and beauty blogger but, at home, the chief stylist for her 2-year-old daughter Elizabeth is husband Goziam. And Tola loves it.
Indeed, seeing dads doing their children’s hair is very important to Tola. Something she thinks we should all celebrate (check out #daddydomyhair on Instagram).
“So many times, dads are made fun of – they’re not the competent ones and the mums are. But dads ARE competent,” she declares.
“And a dad is the standard to which his daughter or son will hold all men in future – so I love seeing a dad take an active role in his child’s life.”
Tola talks of how in the black community, hair can come with a lot of what she calls “cultural baggage”.
“Women used to straighten their hair, but in the last 5 to 10 years a lot more have gone back to keeping their natural hair,” she explains.
“This can mean dads from that community aren’t so keen to get involved in doing their kids’ hair. So when they do, it should be celebrated.”
When Tola saw an Instagram pic of a dad doing his young daughter’s hair, the idea grew into a children’s book, Daddy Do My Hair.
Tola describes the book as a ‘mirror’ for children like her daughter, reflecting her life back at her, and a ‘window’ for children from other cultures, to see how people from different backgrounds do things.
Since its publication, Tola has written a second book. Hope’s Braids was inspired by a niece who is one of the only bi-racial children at her school and was being bullied. Hope in the story is a bi-racial girl, whose mum is black and whose dad is ginger – Hope has flame red hair.
Recently she toured the book round schools, and has had lots of positive comments, including one from a mum who thanked her for the diversity reflected in her books – and that it was just what she felt her young children needed to see.
“I knew a little black girl who would come home from nursery and say she wanted Miley Cyrus hair,” says Tola. “And my own daughter would come home saying her skin was “dirty” because she was dark-skinned.
“That’s pretty scary as a parent – and we need to be pro-active about building our children’s self-esteem.”