Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sesame Street I Love My Hair

"Don't need a trip to the beauty shop, 'cause I love what I've got on top...I love my hair, I love my hair," sings the new little Muppet girl.

White adoptive father of an African-born girl and Sesame Street writer Joey Mazzarino co-created this song and character in response to his daughter who one day declared: "I want my hair long and blond like Barbie or a princess." (AP)



The Youtube video quickly gained more than a million hits.

Mazzarino didn't realize that by exploring this he was entering into a long history of discussion and debate about AA women's hair.

I too have a Dad who didn't understand why his little curly headed girl cried for long, straight blond hair. In fact, I first heard about this story from my father, who got choked up reading an article about it. That darn blond beauty standard is so embedded! Hard to pinpoint where or how it enters the conscience. It has a lot to do with images, advertisements, television, etc., I think. (I've written an essay on this very topic, which will be published in an anthology called Other Tongues later this year.)

As always happens, viewer comments on the video and others produced in response are filled with fightin words. People get very defensive about hair. Girls who relax their hair do not like to be accused of trying to be White, of being mired in a slavery past. It's just hair, they say, and they've got a point. At the same time though, I think it's important to confront it and provide positive images of Black women with natural hair, especially for adopted Black girls who won't see reflections of themselves in their parents or perhaps even in their surrounding community.

Kudos to this proactive dad!

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