Finally... a movie that celebrates dad-and-daughter bonding time over natural hair!
Did your dad ever do your hair? Mine never did but, if my mom hadn't been around, I'm pretty sure he would have. I grew up in a two-parent household and when I was younger I was a total daddy's girl. My memories of childhood include eagerly waiting for my dad to come home every night and present me with gifts. Some big other small. The first gift I can remember ever getting from anyone was a pair of acid wash jeans from my dad and even now I remember how special I felt and how happy that gift made me. One of the things I would do when I was younger was make sure I fell asleep on the couch because then my dad would pick me up and take me to bed when he came home. I would wake up in bed and know that my dad had lifted me and put me there and that made me happy.
A bond between a little girl and her dad is a special one.
Growing up even though my dad would be the disciplinarian, he was also my 'favorite' parent. I loved my mom but we clashed all the time. She was also the one who would 'rat' me out to dad whenever I did something wrong. After my mom and I stopped living in the same house we became super close and after I became a mom, our bond grew stronger still, but I am still that little daddy's girl at heart. This is one of the reasons why I was so pleased to find out about an animated movie called Hair Love being developed by former NFL player and now movie director, Matthew A. Cherry, about a black father named Stephen attempting to style the natural hair of his daughter, Zuri. A Kickstarter campaign to raise the $75,000 required to create the film has been launched. (As of August 8th, the campaign has raised nearly $239,000 by 4,099 backers.)
The project is gaining quite a bit of attention already, in part because it is attempting to show there are black fathers involved in the lives of their children in meaningful ways, which is something not often highlighted about the black male.
"I'm not a father yet, but I think you should respect women regardless of your connection to them," noted Cherry in an interview with Refinery29. "So, the importance of this is pretty obvious. Anytime a father can be in his child's life, that's a beautiful thing."
Cherry knows the importance of hair in the black community and is aware that little black girls are surrounded by European standards of beauty to which they do not adhere. Hair Love is his contribution to the cause of helping black girls take pride in themselves and their natural hair by giving them an animated character that looks like they look. He also wants to help counter the notion that black men aren't good fathers.
Cherry continued, "This year, I really started seeing more people sharing videos of Black fathers doing stuff with their kids. I think a reason why all these black father and daughter videos were hitting was because of what society has put out there. People think Black men aren't in their kids' lives — so when people do see the videos, they look at these as an anomaly. On one hand I am happy seeing these videos, but on the other hand, it made me sad because I knew that a reason that these videos were going viral was because people didn't think that was normal."
To sum it up
Whether or not you think that the concept of a father doing his daughter's hair is normal, it certainly would not hurt for people to realize that there are great black fathers out there. Furthermore, if seeing little black girls in film can help black girls love themselves, then for sure seeing positive images of black fatherhood can inspire more black men to embrace fatherhood and strive to be positive forces in the lives of their children. Representation matters and for through Hair Love, Mr. Cherry is trying to do his part. We should all be sure to do ours and support projects like these in whatever ways we can. This doesn't need to be financial. We can contribute to the greater good by spreading the word on our social channels or having open discussions with our friends and family. And when films like these are made, we should watch them so that their impact can be felt.
Click here to support Hair Love.
Watch NC editors Devri and Cristina attempt to walk our dads through a hairstyle tutorial below: