NEW MOVIE “HAIR LOVE” FAVORS SINGLE DADS
The short film “Hair Love” is about an African American father who has to figure out how to tame his daughter’s hair. The film received rave reviews for its unique representation of Black hair, however the film also represented something else: that fathers should not be glorified for parenting.
The film was only 7 minutes long and depicted the love between a parent and child, and a love for African American hair. Matthew Cherry, the creator of the film, wanted to make something that you do not see often in movies and TV shows. On his website, he said, “This story was born out of seeing a lack of [black] representation in mainstream animated projects, and also wanting to promote hair love amongst young men and women of color.”
While the film does portray that message well, the response from the movie perpetuated the thought that fathers should be recognized for doing things any parent does. Many times, men who are seen with children when they are alone receive very positive reactions. However, when mothers are alone with their children, it is seen as normal and nothing special. Many people thought the film was groundbreaking simply because it showed a father doing his daughter’s hair, and that is where the problem is. Contrarily, Cherry wanted to show people that it is normal for fathers to take care of their children, and it is actually very common.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Cherry said, “I kept coming across these videos of dads doing their daughters’ hair, or playing with their daughters, and many of the videos had thousands of retweets…I found that a lot of people didn’t really see black dads in that same light, as domestic and doing all these simple tasks we all take for granted.”
According to Statista, in 2018 there were 1,073,000 black families with a single father, compared to 4,035,000 single mothers. Even with these numbers, black single fathers are still seen as superheroes, while for mothers, parenting is more of an expectation.
Being a parent is a role that includes caring for your child and ensuring they grow up to be functioning members of society. So why is it that when fathers do exactly that it is a big deal? The social media campaign #GirlDad helped push this narrative of fathers exhibiting regular parenting activities, from doing their daughter’s hair or playing dress up with them, and having people respond in a way that commends them for doing so. This kind of awe and surprise is exactly why Cherry created “Hair Love” in the first place.
Being a parent is difficult and parents should be recognized for that. However, caring for your child should not turn into a commendation. Many men are single fathers or take care of their children with someone else, which is normal and is not amazing or shocking. Normalize fathers, especially Black fathers, being parents to their children.