“I don’t need a trip to the beauty shop ’cause I love what I have on top.”
If you’ve been hanging out on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, chances are that you’ve heard those words being sung by a happy brown Sesame Street muppet girl with a springy little afro.
I don’t know what her name is, but she loves her hair. The entire song is about her love affair with that curly brown stuff she has on top. As a black woman with my share of curly brown stuff on top, I love the song for its positive message to little brown girls everywhere. But I also love the song because it was written by an adoptive dad for his little girl.
The dad, Sesame Street writer Joey Mazzarino, wrote the song for his [then] four-year-old daughter, adopted at birth from Ethiopia. Mazzarino and his wife are white. And of course, their precious little one is not.
Wait, wait. Before you get your wig in a twist about a white man writing a song about loving nappy hair, consider his words from an interview with CocoaFly’s Jenee Darden:
“My wife and I are both white. When she was four we were going through stuff with her hair where she wanted have hair that was straight. I tried to say to her, “Your hair’s great. It’s so beautiful and you can do so many things with it.” I thought it was a problem unique to us because we were white parents and she saw us everyday. Then Chris Rock’s movie Good Hair came out and I realized it’s not just about being raised by white parents. It’s an issue for a lot of little girls.”
When I was little I used to wear a yellow sweater over my kinky tresses. Later in life, I did the perm thing like every other black woman in my life. And like almost every other black woman in my life, I got up from the ‘I-hate-my-hair’ chair at the beauty salon disappointed many many times. Deep down that hair-hate mantra was really me-hate. I didn’t know just how deep the self-hatred ran until I decided to go natural.
Nowadays with dred locs down to my fanny, I can flip my happy-to-be-nappy hair around just like any of those Brady kids. Unfortunately, we women of color have allowed media to play with our heads (inside and out). We’ve been brunettes, blonds, and everything in between (and some of us have bleached our skin to match). We’ve fried it. Dyed it. And even bought it (aka HIB or ‘hair I bought’). It all makes my head spin. But what truly troubles me most is when I hear another black woman whisper to me about how she wishes she had the courage to go natural.
It’s taken me 15 years to get my hair into the eye-catching head-turning condition it is today. The real work has been on the inside. Fifteen liberating years getting out from under the press of looking like somebody else. Fifteen wonderful years of allowing God to reclaim, reaffirm, reshape the me He made. And it all started with my hair.
Like my little muppet friend, “I love my hair. My hair is part of me. An awesome part of me.”