I got an email from a friend who was watching Sesame Street with her daughter one morning last week and saw “I Love My Hair” for the first time. The entire episode, she said, was dedicated to hair and loving the hair you were born with.
It inspired me to go back and watch the “I Love My Hair” video. It was created by a dad, a Sesame Street exec, who was worried that his Ethiopian-born daughter bemoaned her natural, "fluffy" hair, wishing instead for flowing "Barbie" hair.
Joey Mazzarino says he wrote the song after noticing his daughter playing with dolls. "She wanted to have long blond hair and straight hair, and she wanted to be able to bounce it around," he tells NPR's Melissa Block.
Sporting a changing catalog of beautiful natural 'dos, the Muppet sings, "I don't need a trip to the beauty shop, cuz I love what I got on top!"
"I Love My Hair" debuted on the Oct. 4 episode of Sesame Street. It was posted on the show's YouTube page—and then women began posting the video on their Facebook pages.
The video went viral. African-American bloggers wrote that it brought them to tears because of the message it sends to young black girls. The YouTube video has been viewed more than 5 million times. There’s even a Willow Smith “Whip It”/I Love My Hair Mashup that was created And Forever 21 created “I Love My Hair” t-shirts
An entrepreneur even created an entire I Love My Hair web site with prints and t-shirts.
“My wife and I adopted our daughter from Ethiopia, so we’re two white parents of an African-American daughter,” Mazzarino said in a 2010 interview. “We knew issues of skin color would come up. But when Chris Rock’s film Good Hair came out, I was talking to my producer about it and I realized ‘Oh, this is a bigger issue. This isn’t just my child. It’s happening with other African-American girls.’”
Armando and the Muppet girl performed a bilingual version of the song “Me Encanto Mi Cabello” in 2013.
Attitudes about hair start so young. Kudos to Sesame Street for creating something that has positively impacted countless young girls. Hopefully it will install in them confidence from a young age that one doesn’t have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful.