Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sesame Street's 'I Love My Hair' Song: A Priceless Message

by Dana Oliver

"Sesame Street" has a permanent place in my heart thanks to its latest song, "I Love My Hair."

The popular children's television series recently aired a segment starring a brown Muppet rocking an Afro, pink dress, beaded earrings and necklace. She sings a tune about loving her curly locks -- bouncing onto the screen, beaming with energy, and belting out: "Don't need a trip to the beauty shop. 'Cause I love what I got on top. It's curly and it's brown and it's right up there! You know what I love? That's right, my hair! I really love my hair!"

 Yes, we can all agree that the video is really cute, but it also made me cry. Here's why.

For black girls like myself this is an important lesson in embracing our natural hair, in spite of what society has historically deemed beautiful (read: straight, long hair).

Growing up, my perception of beauty was molded by my mother, grandmother, aunts, and cousins, along with the countless issues of Ebony, Jet, and Essence I feverishly ingested, featuring gorgeous brown women in the hottest African-American hairstyles.

Like my new Muppet friend, over my twenty-some years I've rocked my jet black strands in various dos, including cornrows, braids, ponytails, the press-n-curl, two-strand twists, and candy curls -- see my hair-story in the image below.

My hair through the years: from long ponytails to sleek and straight strands to kinky curls. Courtesy Photos

But as a pre-teen, my kinky strands were laid down flat onto my scalp thanks to a chemical hair relaxer -- one of the hair straightening processes that I would later come to regret, as it destroyed my curl pattern, making it very hard for me to wear my hair naturally again.

You see, I recently embarked on a hair journey to revive my curls after getting bored with the polished, broadcaster's look. Tired of wearing my strands bone-straight and looking like "everyone else," I stopped using the flat iron for six months, wore my hair in protective hairstyles like braids and twists, and then had a big chop three months ago to remove the straggling straight ends so that my curls could grow back healthy and strong.

And while it took over a decade for me to embrace my natural hair, when I watch this two-minute "Sesame Street" video, I can't help but fight back the tears as it sends a much-needed message to young black girls at a pivotal point in their development that will reaffirm why they should love what they've got on top.

Who knows if I would've yielded to the hot comb or "kiddie" relaxer had I been exposed to such a positive image of black hair at an early age. I can only hope that little girls who've watched this segment on PBS know that, as the Muppet sings, "there's nothing else that can compare to their hair."


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