When I much younger, my hair idol was Rudy Huxtable. Those adorable full pigtails she would rock with her mini-Cosby sweaters reminded me of the twists my mom worked so to diligently to form my thick, rebellious hair into. Every evening, I could sit in front of the television and see someone who looked like me; a smart, funny, sassy little girl with big, pretty natural hair. I loved it!
Eventually, I, like Rudy, chemically straightened my hair, but I’d like to think that those formative years of looking at and longing for big, poofy tresses is what eventually brought me back to loving my hair in its natural state.
Up until recently, I had begun to worry that my own child(ren) would never know the joy of seeing a fun, relatable TV character who looked like them; television images of children as young as 3 years old many times have straightened or chemically relaxed hair and my little ones will sport ‘fros, twists, or locs for as long as I have anything to do with it. At home, I will teach them that their natural hair worn proud is a blessing, never something to be ashamed of or alter simply because it doesn’t “fit” into societal standards of beauty. But I’m not naive – I know that kids are influenced greatly by their peers and the media, so, shy of banning television and movies from my home, being the only influence on their feelings about their hair will be impossible.
We all cheered with glee when Sesame Street, another one of my childhood staples, came out with this wonderful clip featuring an adorable African American puppet singing happily about the virtues of her natural hair, but I wondered if there could possibly be more instances of Black kids with natural hair on TV – not necessarily singing about it, but just, you know, being kids…
It wasn’t until recently that I saw something else that gave me hope. I was flipping the channels early one evening and nearly skipped over a young, Black female character typing furiously into a computer and rockin’ a fierce ‘fro with a headband. I had just unexpectedly met Koki, a sharp-witted computer whiz on the Wild Kratts cartoon on PBS. She was a strong, likeable member of the animated cast who I would definitely be proud to let my kids watch – and it was a educational show about animals and the environment to boot! Because of Koki, I was inspired, once again, to find other natural hair’d kids characters that may be an indication that, as more African American moms and dads embrace the natural hair lifestyle for their families, kids’ programming is incorporating natural hairstyles into mainstream TV.
Below is a gallery of some of the examples I was able to find. I couldn’t get my hands on any live-action naturals; most TV shows starring young Black actresses have girls with straightened hair, but I’m sure they, too, will come around! Do you know of any more Black TV characters, live-action or cartoon, who wear their natural hair?