• Country: United States
  • Initial release: August 14, 2019
  • Film Director: Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr and Bruce W. Smith
  • Running Time: 7 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 7.4

Hair Love is a heartwarming and groundbreaking animated short film directed by Matthew A. Cherry. In just five minutes, it tells a powerful story about the relationship between a loving father, Stephen, his daughter Zuri, and her beautiful and unique hair. The film not only celebrates the bond between fathers and daughters but also addresses the importance of self-esteem, pride, culture, and identity, particularly within the underrepresented black community.

The Birth of Hair Love

Hair Love was born out of a desire for better representation and diversity in mainstream animated projects. Matthew A. Cherry, an American filmmaker, recognized the lack of representation of natural black hair in media and wanted to create a story that would inspire and empower young men and women of color. Through the film, Cherry aimed to promote the concept of “hair love” – embracing and celebrating one’s natural hair.

The Story of Hair Love

Hair Love centers around a crucial moment in Zuri’s life, where she wants to create the perfect hairstyle for a special occasion. However, her usual hairstylist, her mother, is unavailable, leaving her father, Stephen, to take on the challenge. Despite his initial struggles, Stephen is determined to learn and support his daughter, showcasing the strength of their bond and the power of love.

Zuri’s hair takes on a life of its own, symbolizing the uniqueness and beauty of her identity. Through their journey of styling Zuri’s textured hair, father and daughter learn valuable lessons about communication, resilience, and self-acceptance. The film beautifully portrays the complexities of everyday life and the importance of love and understanding within a family.

Critical Acclaim and Recognition

Hair Love has garnered widespread acclaim since its release. In 2020, it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, solidifying its impact and recognition within the film industry. The success of the film led to the creation of a picture book adaptation, which became a New York Times bestseller.

Promoting Hair Representation and Self-Esteem

Hair Love goes beyond just being a heartwarming film; it also aims to inspire and empower individuals to embrace their natural hair and heritage. The film’s vibrant illustrations showcase various hairstyles, providing representation for black children and inspiring parents and guardians to explore and embrace styling naturally textured hair.

Representation in media plays a crucial role in shaping the self-esteem and identity of young children. By featuring diverse hairstyles and celebrating black hair, Hair Love helps children see themselves and their unique beauty reflected in animation. This representation fosters a sense of pride and self-confidence among young individuals, encouraging them to embrace their heritage and celebrate their natural hair.

The Importance of Hair Style in History and Culture

Hair has always been an essential aspect of identity and expression in various cultures and historical periods. In early African civilizations, hairstyles served as indicators of family background, tribe, and social status. Different styles were worn for specific occasions, such as celebrations or mourning.

Hair Love reinforces the significance of hair style and its connection to personal identity. The film highlights how Zuri’s hairstyle plays a pivotal role in her self-expression and confidence. By showcasing the importance of hair style within the story, Hair Love prompts viewers to reflect on their own unique styles and how they contribute to their personal identity.

Empowering the Next Generation: The CROWN Coalition

The impact of Hair Love extends beyond the film itself. In 2019, Matthew A. Cherry co-founded The CROWN Coalition, a movement advocating for the passage of The CROWN Act. This legislation aims to protect individuals from race-based hair discrimination in schools and workplaces, specifically addressing discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles.

The CROWN Coalition, in collaboration with organizations like the National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, is committed to ensuring that hair discrimination becomes illegal in all 50 states. By fighting against hair discrimination, the coalition aims to create a world where children’s natural hair is recognized, celebrated, and protected.

Using Hair Love as an Educational Tool

Recognizing the importance of media literacy and education, Dove, in collaboration with The Dove Self-Esteem Project, has developed an educational tool called “My Hair, My Crown.” This tool aims to build children’s self-confidence by providing informational guides that address the importance of embracing one’s hair and unique style.

Teachers and parents can download the “My Hair, My Crown” session to engage children in meaningful discussions about self-esteem, identity, and diversity. By integrating Hair Love into educational settings, children can learn valuable lessons about acceptance, empathy, and the power of representation.

Celebrating African American Style and Dress

Hair Love’s impact on representation and self-esteem is not limited to the film itself. The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco collaborates with the Smithsonian on projects that celebrate African American style and dress. The Will to Adorn and Still Here exhibitions explore the cultural aesthetics and traditional arts of the body, dress, and adornment within the African American community. These exhibitions highlight the resilience, creativity, and agency of people of the African Diaspora, showcasing their rich cultural heritage.

Reflecting on Personal Style and Identity

Hair Love encourages individuals to reflect on their personal style and the factors that inspire and shape their choices. Personal style encompasses more than just hair; it extends to clothing, accessories, and self-expression as a whole. By exploring and embracing personal style, individuals can celebrate their uniqueness and express their identity confidently.

Take a moment to reflect on what inspires your hair style, the way you dress, or the accessories you wear. Consider how these elements contribute to your unique style and the message you want to convey to the world. Embrace your individuality and find empowerment in expressing your true self.

Conclusion: Embracing Love, Identity, and Hair

Hair Love is more than a short film; it is a powerful celebration of love, family, identity, and the beauty of natural hair. Through its heartfelt story, vibrant illustrations, and important messages, the film inspires individuals of all ages to embrace their unique hair and heritage. Hair Love challenges societal norms and promotes representation, self-esteem, and cultural pride.

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  • As we continue to strive for diverse and inclusive media, Hair Love serves as a beacon of inspiration and a reminder of the importance of representation for all communities. Let us celebrate love, identity, and hair, and empower the next generation to embrace their natural beauty and unique styles. Together, we can create a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and loved.