“Hair Love” Sends a Positive Message About Black Hair and Dads

Marjorie Hsu, Co-editor-in-Chief

A short film called “Hair Love” has recently won an Oscar and title of the Best Animated Short Film. The story is about a young black girl who is struggling to style her hair, but with the help of her father they both manage to style successfully. People have praised it for its positive commentary of embracing your natural hair and a dad’s love for his daughter. 

The animated short shows the beauty of embracing your natural beauty regardless if it’s poofy or hard to manage when Zuri asks Stephen, her father, if he could do her hair for her. Although it is a struggle at first, Stephen works with Zuri’s hair and manages to style it beautifully after seeing an online tutorial Zuri suggested. In the end, Zuri also shows her mom that she, too, should love her beauty even though she is bald.

Hair Love also shows that dads can be there just as moms as Stephen willingly struggles to learn for Zuri so he can make sure she is happy with her hair. The main creator, Matthew A. Cherry, said this was part of the film’s goal as “This story was born out of seeing a lack of representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color.” 

Cherry said that he had the concept for the story for quite some time, but his decision to officially make it came after he saw viral videos of black fathers doing their daughter’s hair. In order to make the project possible, Cherry started a kickstarter with the initial goal of $75,000, but the project ended up reaching $284,058. Throughout the funding, there were new funding goals set in place to expand the quality of the animation. They eventually also managed to produce merchandise such as a doll and a children’s book.

Over time, after “Hair Love” gained more notoriety, Sony Pictures ended up teaming up with Cherry to realize his project. This led to Karen Rupert Toliver co-producing with Cherry along with many other directors and artists to create the story. Some of the directors have worked on feature films such as Toliver who worked on “Into the Spider-verse” and Everett Downing Jr. who worked on the movie “Up.”

The other achievement from this project was being able to publish a children’s book by the same name. “Hair Love” is a story that can be enjoyed by all ages. 

The short film is remarkable not only for it’s positive message, but also its 3-D animation that gives Zuri’s hair dynamic movement. The film also uses a short amount of talking as most of the story is conveyed through body language. This makes it easier for people to understand the meaning whether they speak English or not. The wholesome video can be found on YouTube.

After many views and positive feedback, fans asked Cherry if there was any intention on continuing Zuri’s story. Cherry said that he would love to expand on Hair Love into a bigger project, but that for now he is enjoying people’s response.