We hear it all the time from our family, our friends, our significant others, our bosses and the media: naturally curly hair is unruly.
Our families encourage us to straighten our strands to avoid looking messy, our friends occasionally promote our curly hair in an attempt to land the guy themselves, our significant others praise our desire to be ourselves, but won’t deny their love for straight strands. And then you have the professional issue in which women are often discriminated against for their natural locks, with employers claiming that it just isn’t a professional look. Finally, you have the media, the entity backing all of the scrutiny, which blasts advertisements claiming that curly hair needs to be tamed and that we've evolved past that.
The underlying tones about how the world’s population feels about curly hair are not difficult to find – we’re just used to them. And it is this being used to them that rattles our world when we realize that we don’t even remember what our natural hair is like, much less if it's better than the straight, permed and pressed locks to which we are so addicted.
Where are the Curly Heroines?
Most of us haven’t allowed our natural waves, curls and kinks to showcase themselves since elementary school, and despite parental pressures that would have forced it anyway, I bet not a single one of us gave a hoot or holler when our strands were blown, permed or pressed straight.
There's a pretty substantial reason as to why: we lacked curly hair idols. Every Disney movie from the good ‘ol days featured a heroine with long, straight, thick strands that could encircle her body every time she twirled. Alright, Snow White’s hair was short, but it was still straight and thick!
It wasn’t until 2010 that a potential curly princess was introduced in “The Princess and The Frog,” and we still aren’t even so sure that her hair is really curly.
Sesame Street to the Rescue
There is hope on the horizon my curly friends and parents — Sesame Street is making sure that our curly children will indeed have curly heroines.
For the second time in a little over a year, Sesame Street is making waves in the natural hair community, promoting curls and kinks in ways that no one has!
First, back in October of 2010, Sesame Street released the hit single, “I Love My Hair,” showcasing a black Muppet with curly hair singing about all the ways her natural curls are down right beautiful.
Addressing one of the biggest issues in the natural hair community, and doing it without blatantly calling out the issue, that same Muppet sings, “Change the World,” with her two natural hair friends about how she can become anything she wants, even President – all the while remaining naturally curly.
Sesame Street is hammering it home to young girls everywhere, especially young curly girls, that anything is possible no matter who you are or what you look like. In the song, the Muppet becomes a judge, a doctor, an astronaut and the CEO of the United States – and her natural hair chugs along with her.
I can’t predict the future, but I do have a pretty firm grasp of the past and I have this deep-rooted, gut feeling that if I had ever seen a natural curly as a heroine, princess or doctor, it wouldn’t have taken me until my 22nd birthday to embrace my natural texture.
Here’s to you, Sesame Street, for paying attention to popular culture and noticing prejudices that have become so mainstream that even those who experience the bias first-hand don’t notice anymore. Thanks for not only taking note, but for deciding to make a change, make a difference and change the future.
Pixar is stepping up its curly hair idol game, too! Check out their newest animated film's heroine in "Brave."
Watch the music video and tell us what you think!