Viral video becomes a beautiful hair-love story for Black dads and their daughters.
Have you seen the new animated short film Hair Love? This is a short film about an African American father trying to do his daughters hair for the first time. Inspired by a video that went viral with a father and his daughter, film maker Mathew Cherry recently partnered with Sony Pictures Animation on the project. This project, which started as a kickstarter campaign, surpassed their original goal of $75,000, and with over 5,000 donors, raised a total of almost $285,000. Not only is this an amazing short film, it is also a must-have children’s book!
While watching this video, three underlying themes jumped out at me.
The Themes in this film that can be shared with your Beautiful Brown Girl are powerful.
- Perseverance. Things that are important don’t always come easy but you don’t give up.
- Confidence can come from our crown. When you feel good about your hair, you feel good about yourself. It is important to stress that our hair is beautiful regardless of the texture, length, style, color etc. That is why this video and books and other videos that are similar are so important for our girls. It’s quick but Mathew Cherry flicks through so many beautiful styles hitting on the diversity of our hair. In the books he highlights different hairstyles as well; one line states, “In funky braids with beads, I am a princess” another one states, “And when my hair is in two puffs, I am above the clouds like a superhero”. I once had a student who transferred from my school and began to attend a school that was mostly White. The students in that school ridiculed her puffs and her beads, her natural styles and the texture of her hair. When she was in a school that was predominately Black, that was the norm and she was often complimented for her styles by other students and teachers. I always make it a point to express how beautiful natural hair is when I see my students in the hallway, “Girl those puffs are everything!” is a common sentiment of mine. I felt bad for my student when she transferred schools because along with losing that constant encouragement from teachers who looked like her, her peers teased her because it wasn’t their norm. What this video and videos and books like it do is put our “normal” out there for us and others to see on a regular basis. This won’t change the ignorance, but it reinforces the fact that it no longer matters. Our girls are empowered through positive images to fearlessly wear their natural hair. I work in a school now where thick afros, puffs, curly tops and beautiful natural styles are the norm and worn with pride. This makes me very happy because this has evolved into our “normal” in the last five years. .
- Representation Matters: Film maker, writer and producer Mathew Cherry said that he wanted to encourage hair positivity and show representation of Beautiful Black girls and their hair. he wanted to encourage pride and he wanted little girls to see themselves in film. Cherry also mentions that his video captures the closeness of a Black father interacting with his daughter. Cherry wanted to combat the misconception that Black men are not involved in their children’s lives. Especially because Black men are one of the most involved groups involved in their kids’ lives. He crafted this representation in book and movie form. He was inspired by many viral videos featuring Black fathers with their daughters and based his movie on one specifically that featured Zuri and her father. Mathew Cherry also shines a light on the natural hair beauty movement and celebrates the magic of Black women’s hair and the power in our natural appearance.
More than just a cute book and short movie.
Our kids LOVE media…social media, youtube and other videos on the internet, television, netflix, you name it. Although I believe that we should limit their intake, I also strongly believe that we should take as many opportunities possible to turn their tech experience into a learning moment. There are ways to pull them away and engage them in conversation and thinking activities!
You can have heartfelt discussions with your beautiful brown girl following the viewing of this video. Some discussion starters are:
- When do you feel most beautiful? Why?
- When you do your hair by yourself, what do you find most challenging? What do you find easy to do?
- Whats your favorite hair style?
- What do you love most about your hair?
- Do you find hairstyles you see on other people inspiring? How so?
- What is the craziest hairstyle you would like to try?
As a literacy teacher I often used short animated films in the classroom. With the Hair Love animated film there is an entire story to be told here – as I would tell my students, the details are in the illustrations. What I love most about short animated films is that the there is usually little to no dialogue which requires viewers to use comprehension strategies to make sense of the film. Here is what I concluded after viewing this video a few times.
- Zuri wakes up and immediately realizes it is the day she has been waiting for.
- She jumps out of bed and grabs her iPad because she wants her hair to be perfect. Her mother is a youtuber and often does hair tutorials with Zuri.
- Zuri chooses the tutorial with the perfect hairstyle for today’s special occasion. She tries to do the style but struggles and fails.
- Dad enters, realizes that Zuri isn’t ready yet and also attempts and fails at capturing the style.
- Zuri storms out of the room feeling defeated and upset and closes herself in her room where she again begins watching the video. But this time more for the comfort of her mother’s voice.
- Dad hears her and realizes that he can follow the tutorial and maybe get it halfway decent. He attempts the hair-task again and this time he gets it right!
- They leave the house and head to the hospital. Mom is finally getting to come home after receiving Chemotherapy. Knowing her mom’s hair was important to her, Zuri draws her mother a picture reminding her that she is still beautiful.
- While recovering and on the road to regaining her health, Zuri’s mom continues doing Zuri’s hair with the loving help of her father.
Some activities that could be used at home or in the classroom…
- Write the story that goes with this film. What did the viewer get from it – in this process, the writer/thinker is encouraged to make inferences and draw conclusions and you can probe and lead them along the way. I made an inference when I determined that mom was coming home from the hospital after receiving chemo – the scarf, the hospital room, her hair was gone, etc. Our kids do this too and don’t always realize it. A very important comprehension strategy can be taught in a few minutes using this film by taking something they do naturally and turning it into a thinking activity highlighting that this is what happens when you read and take in new information. This strategy can then be applied to books, articles, etc. *An inference is an idea or conclusion that’s drawn from evidence and reasoning. An inference is an educated guess. It is made when we take what we know and combine it with new information gained to make a conclusion.
- Retell the movie in their own words. This is really important for younger readers. It helps to improve their reading comprehension skills because they are required to think about the information from the film and restate it in their own words. By thinking about what happened, they are strengthening their sense of story and story structure and developing skills to help them become more accurate with monitoring their understanding.
- Discuss the problem and solution in the short film and summarize what it was about. Identifying the problem and solution is a very basic skill, but super important. Using the problem and solution will help thinkers summarize and synthesize the events in the movie. By synthesizing students aren’t just giving us details that occurred in the story but they are looking at and processing the big idea. This is important because this is where they get to bring in their background knowledge and evolve as thinkers.
I love this book for many reasons….primarily because it captures one of the angles in our hair struggle. Our hair is magical. Our hair can also be hard. And thats just a fact. It takes work and it can definitely have a mind of its own. Every black girl can relate to this video in some kind of way…young and older. I definitely do- even as an adult I’ve tried hair tutorials and I’ve failed miserably! #ReprentationAlwaysMatters. Also- hey Issa hey! I was pleasantly surprised to catch Issa’s voice as the mom in this film. Most importantly, the graphics and the story are relatable and personable and easy to love! I am a lover of beautiful artwork and it is the driving force behind Dear Beautiful Brown Girl so its no surprise that I fell in love with the illustrations of Vashti Harrison. And did I mention Zuri (the main character’s name in this short film) means beautiful in Swahili? This movie is everything beautiful!