Oct 22, 2010

When Joey Mazzarino's adopted Ethiopian daughter Segi told him that she hated her hair and wanted to have long, straight, blond "princess" hair, he decided to do something about it. Mazzarino, a Sesame Street puppeteer, created a Muppets video called "I Love My Hair." In the 2-minute video, an as-yet unnamed brown puppet with an afro dances and sings "I love my hair" repeatedly.

The video was first shown on Sesame Street's October 4 episode. Then it was posted on Sesame Street's YouTube page. And then it went viral, as women began posting it on their Facebook pages.

The original video post, put up a week ago, has how received 706,000 views.

"Don't need a trip to the beauty shop, 'Cause I love what I got up on top," the Muppet sings. "I love my hair, I really really really love my hair." Then the little Muppet shows all the different ways she can wear her hair and sings, "I love all the things my hair can do."

The message stands in stark contrast to many media messages about appearance, in which one narrowly-defined standard of beauty is held up as the ideal for all girls and women. Perhaps that is why the video is receiving such a strong reaction from even adult women. One YouTube commenter said, "It's interesting that there are such undertones of self-confidence and cultural pride in such a inocent video. I think it sends a good message to anyone."

The strong reaction to the video has surprised Mazzarino. "I sort of wrote this little thing for my daughter," he said, but he is receiving calls from adult women touched by the video's simple message of loving and accepting oneself the way you are.

Interestingly, "I Love My Hair" is one of two videos about black hair that are receiving national and international attention. The other is Willow Smith's "I Whip My Hair," which has a similar – although more subtle – message of empowerment. Not surprisingly, there is already a YouTube mashup of the two songs, which has had 450,000 views.


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