I recall many toy commercials of fabulous knick knacks me and my sister could tear up during our childhood. We waited all year to get a toy that we would get tired of playing with after a few weeks.
But what I also remember about these toys and commercials was the lack of diversity. In the commercials, it was always a blonde Barbie getting the spotlight. In cartoons, a fair skinned and fair hair lovely young woman was always getting rescued. There were very few representations of black women and girls in power.
I think there may have been a few minority female characters here and there I can recall that I actually looked up to: Carmen San Diego was believed to be Hispanic, Proud Family was watched amongst the privileged that actually got the Disney Channel and Boondocks was highly offensive yet terribly hilarious, but featured no strong, idolizing black female figures.
Until Princess Tiana and Tip, the adorable, curly-headed heroine in the new Dreamworks film ‘Home.’
When Disney and Dreamworks finally “got it,” realizing it’s OK to feature a diverse line of characters, black girls all over the world felt like someone CARES to represent them. It was a wonderful feeling.
No one, especially kids, like feeling like they are different, regardless of their skin color or hair texture. But when you’re the only kid in class with a curly hair do or cookie braids or cornrows or baby dreadlocks, you may get more looks than typical-looking Amanda. No one likes to be singled out or felt like they are singled out.
I cannot begin to tell you the half hearted “compliments” or outright insults my non-African American peers and even some from other naturals!
“It’s so pretty curly but do you ever want to straighten it?”
“You’d look better with it straight…but it’s OK curly.”
“Do you ever take your braids out?”
“Do you wear braids because you’re bald?”
“I usually date chicks with long straight hair but I guess you’ll do.” (Yes, someone said that to me before!)
But the a changing racial climate (statistics show that minorities will make up half of the population in the country by 2050) it makes sense for Disney, Dreamworks, Dove’s Quinch Absolute products, ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ and many other products and shows to start giving women with natural hair a spotlight.
Frankly, I believe ‘Home’ and ‘The Princess and the Frog’ will be just some of many movies to come placing the curly-headed hero in the front of class.
And no longer will it be an oddity to have natural curly hair. It’s about time, that’s for sure!