Tiana Akoh-Arrey, a 9-year-old girl from London, England, who was bullied because of her natural hair, turned her ordeal into a success with her book My Afro: Twin Best Friends. The has been well received all over the world, and it has even made it to Amazon’s bestseller list. Tiana has always enjoyed reading and writing since she was a child. She began writing full sentences when she was only four years old. And when she was only six years old and was being teased about her hair, she decided to write about it.
“One day at school, a kid made fun of my afro and said that it made me look like a lion,” Tiana told Good Morning America. “That made me really sad, so I asked my mom to straighten my hair to look like my other friends who did not have an Afro. She explained to me that I should learn to be proud and accept my hair as it is because it’s beautiful. I was trying my hand at writing short stories, so I decided to write about my hair.”
After reading the story, Tiana’s mother Dorothy felt deeply impressed that she decided to submit her daughter’s work to Conscious Dreams Publishing. Tiana’s story was then published, making her a published author at the age of 7.
My Afro: Twin Best Friends is inspired by Tiana’s own experience with her thick Afro hair. In the story, the main character has a best friend with silky, straight hair but they want to look alike for picture day.
“The story follows my journey as I explore friendship, self-acceptance, and identity. Through this, readers can learn how to embrace who they are and celebrate differences in others.”
The book reportedly sold over 700 copies, breaking sales records for a first-time author and landing on Amazon’s bestseller list. Tiana Akoh has also been named one of The Week Junior’s 2022 Heroes of the Year.
“I am really proud of myself, and it has confirmed the assurance my mom gave me that bullying is never about me but the bully trying to express their dissatisfaction in seeing someone different and trying to make others feel small,” Tiana said. “I am happy I have managed to not feel small but also helped other girls have the courage of wearing their Afro hair in all shapes and styles without feeling embarrassed about their hair or caring what people say. I feel like I have been empowered and also empowered others.”