Between young recording artists whipping their hair, to celebrities speaking out on going natural, to puppets singing about loving it, this month could be Ethnic Hair Appreciation Month!
Stories of Black women and hair have often included the frustrations of natural tangles, the glamorization of weaves and the commercialization of chemical relaxers. But how often do we see images of Black women enjoying their life no matter what state their hair is in?
The viral sensation of the “I Love My Hair” song from iconic child educators Sesame Street features a marionette rocking many different hairstyles relevant to young African-American girls. Braids, buns, pigtails, silky straight and even the curly afro get a shout out and much love from the brown-skinned representation of African-Americans on the fictional block many of us grew up on.
Songwriter Joey Mazzarino, turned to fellow Sesame Streeter Gordon Price, husband of Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price, for information about hair styles for his adopted daughter from Ethiopia. He noticed his daughter longing for her hair to blow in the wind and felt the need to write a song for her.
And thus, “I love my hair” was born. The singer, 9-year-old Chantyllia “Chauncey” Johnson, who has appeared in the Lion King and the color purple, lent her voice for authenticity of age and ethnicity.
Taking it a step further, another 9-year-old, turned Roc Nation recording artist Willow Smith (daughter of actor/rapper Will Smith and actress/rocker Jada Pinkett-Smith) has released the video from her first single Whip My Hair. The clip shows a colorful Willow teaching the boring kids in gray how to wild out and let their unique personality shine while banging their heads to the beat of the music.
The track, influenced by hair-chameleons Rihanna and Keri Hilson, produced and co-written by JukeBox, instructs listeners to “shake the haters off” and “whip your hair” a positive message for Black women everywhere no matter what age.
And with Sesame Street encouraging even younger girls to embrace what they’ve got and fashion magazines like Essence doing the same for adults, the next generation of African-American women may never long for the “flowy” blond hair that was once the standard of beauty in media.
To see a mash-up of Sesame Street’s “I Love My Hair” and “Whip My Hair’ by Mec Jagger, click here.