Black hair has been a historically entangling battlefield that most people refuse to pick through, let alone grow free. However, with the collaboration between Matthew Cherry (Hair Love, Young Love) and Dove Kids, there’s a new hair product line that celebrates the beauty of natural hair.
Dove Kids and Cherry created the Hair Love collection, named after Cherry’s Academy Award-winning animated short film Hair Love. The short is about a seven-year-old named Zuri who watches hair tutorials created by her mom (Issa Rae) to style her natural hair. However, her attempts are unsuccessful until her dad watches the videos too. Before long, he masters each and every hairstyle — and it’s revealed it’s for a very special reason.
The hair care collection consists of products made for kids with coils, curls, and waves. The mission is to give them beautiful styles while constantly reminding them of their very own beauty.
Along with Everett Downing Jr. (Vivo) and Bruce W. Smith (The Proud Family), Cherry wanted to challenge the stereotype that Black dads don’t get involved with their kids, especially their daughters. The creators also wanted to encourage Black kids to love their natural hair despite society’s anti-Blackness and European beauty standards.
From the natural hair and dreadlock bans to the culture of professionalism telling Black people that their textured hair is inappropriate and unruly, there has been an attack on natural hair that is still going strong. However, the goal to encourage Black kids to see the value in their own authentic features lives on through collaborations like this.
Dove combats the depression, insecurity, and anxiety that kids experience when they feel as if they’re not enough, particularly through the Dove Self-Esteem Project. This hair collection is about positive representation of kinky curls that have been socially and politically colonized for generations.
Black Girl Nerds spoke to Cherry about the Dove Kids Care Hair Love collection, which includes positive affirmations on each and every bottle.
“Research shows that kids as young as three years old can start to build self-esteem when they see themselves positively represented in the world around them. The new Dove Kids Care Hair Love collection features Hair Love’s main character Zuri on the packaging to showcase representation of Black hair and to help the next generation of Black kids develop a positive relationship with beauty,” Cherry explained. “We hope this new product line continues to widen the definition of beauty — as we set out to do with Hair Love — and ultimately build hair love and confidence from a young age. In addition to Zuri, the packaging features an empowering positive affirmation, ‘I am caring, brilliant, and creative,’ to boost self-esteem in kids and support a positive relationship with themselves and their hair.”
With more representation of natural hair in the mainstream media over the years, some may wonder why such a collaboration is needed. The answer is simple; natural hair discrimination is still happening.
Cherry said, “This is such an antiquated ideal, but unfortunately still prevalent today. It’s one of the many reasons I linked up with Dove. We’re both on a mission to change this notion and ensure natural hair is celebrated and seen as beautiful, versatile, and a source of power, especially for the next generation.”
The recent data Cherry shared with BGN explains that Black women have reported that they encounter stricter grooming policies far more often than white women, specifically regarding their hair. The Dove 2019 CROWN Research Study also concluded that the hairstyles targeted the most are “locs, braids, and afros,” which are viewed the most “unprofessional” in appearance because they seem “too Black” and “too urban.”
For both Cherry and Dove, the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) plays an integral role in stopping hair discrimination and assuring young Black girls that their hair belongs to no one but themselves and shouldn’t be regulated or rejected.
Cherry said, “I’ve been a longtime supporter of the CROWN Act, which is a law that prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and hairstyle such as braids, twists, locs, bantu knots, and afros. Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition [with The National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Center for Western Law and Poverty] to advance this legislation. With our history and shared mission to end race-based hair discrimination, it made complete sense to continue our journey together by officially partnering to collaborate on a range of products designed to inspire hair love and confidence in kids with curls coils and waves.”
Each Hair Love bottle has more information on the CROWN Act for parents to learn more and sign the official petition to pass the CROWN Act nationwide, with 36 states yet to pass it. While many other hair companies fail when it comes to representing Black hair, especially for children, Dove’s mission is to keep changing the narrative, which has meant standing with Cherry for years. In 2017, the brand supported Hair Love when Cherry had started a Kickstarter to raise funds for the film to be made.
“Thinking about those early days leading to where we are now, it’s truly inspiring to me to watch my journey come full circle with Dove,” Cherry said. “The continuing impact of Hair Love is a testament to anybody who has more than one dream that they want to pursue. It’s never too late to pursue your passion, and there’s no rule that says you only can live out one of your passions. It can happen for you.”
This hair collection isn’t just about awareness and representation, it’s also about healthy and happy natural hair. The formulas are created with shea butter, coconut oil, and other nourishing ingredients that are dermatologist tested, tear-free, hypoallergenic, and parabens and phthalates-free. Plus, they have scents that kids will love, like coconut and cookies.
This collaboration has a heavy investment in the future of Black kids and what it means to have an example that not only looks like them but is also happy and full of self-love.
“For years, Dove and I have been working in parallel on the mission of widening beauty definitions and ensuring representation in media and culture, especially for the next generation of Black children,” Cherry shared.
In addition to having the collection available on Dove’s website and through major retailers like Walmart and Target, Dove also has a page on its site dedicated to Cherry’s film and the need to end natural hair discrimination.
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Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California State University, Long Beach. She has been published in Black Girl Nerds, LA Weekly and Medium, is a writer for CSULB’s the Daily49er, is a managing editor for Watermark, her school’s academic literary journal and is an assistant editor at Angels Flight • literary west. She’s an activist and educator that is inspired by her family to make social change both in the classroom and beyond.