Have you seen the two music videos, featuring pre-pubescent black children, tearing up the Net this week? The first, Sesame Street’s “I Love My Hair,” is a confidence-boosting diddy sung by a black puppet girl who adores all the cool things her kinky hair can do.
The second, “Whip My Hair,” shows actor Will Smith’s nine-year-old daughter Willow as a sexy, vamped up badass whipping her super stylish hair back n’ forth whilst singing about keepin’ the party jumpin’.
I wonder which video little girls will pay more attention to. The cute lesson in self-esteem or the glittery display of grownup sassiness filmed with ADD-inducing cutaways and designer outfits. Will they be more dazzled by the gorgeous offspring of mega-famous movie stars or a chunk of foam with some guy’s hand shoved up its butt?
I also wonder why Willow Smith is so dead set on whipping her hair back and forth. There must be more riveting ways to keep a party jumpin’. Perhaps a piñata or a hearty game of kickball. And what kind of party is a nine-year-old jumpin’ at anyway? Isn’t there a clown? Rides on miniature horses? Surely, there’s no need for any whipping.
See, I’m a bit nervous we’re all a bunch of weirdoes turning our kids into sex kittens and badasses. And man oh man, does Willow Smith do a grand job of posing as a stylish, no-nonsense adult female, a kind of pint-sized Rihanna. If only my mother taught me how to scowl and wear makeup like a rock star, I wouldn’t have spent my adolescence climbing trees and coloring in coloring books. Man, was I robbed.
I mean, they are marketing Willow’s video to kids, right? They couldn’t possibly expect an adult to get off on music performed by someone her age. Nine-year-olds don’t make me want to get my groove on at some jumpin’ party. Nine-year-olds make me want to read bedtime stories and serve Hawaiian Punch. I want to pinch their cheeks, not grind them on the dance floor.
Still, the tune is darn catchy. In fact, I’d pay a million dollars to anyone who could stop “Whip My Hair” from embedding itself into their brain after the first listen. Go ahead, I dare you. Maybe it’ll get rid of the Lady Gaga song you’ve had in your head since last Christmas.
Just the other day, I was sitting on the subway staring at a woman whose long, flaxen mane cascaded in waves to her hips. Her boyfriend adoringly ran his fingers through it as if fondling ribbons of the finest silk. The sight reminded me of being a little girl wearing a turtleneck on my head, fantasizing I was a pretty white lady and the shirt was my long, luxurious blonde hair. I imagined Sesame Street having released “I Love My Hair” in time for kid me to see it. Maybe I wouldn’t be sitting on a subway train decades later envying my straight-haired co-passengers.
But what if a brash little girl my age with hair like mine, like Willow Smith, had become a star with a song about “keeping [her] head up?” And what if in the song, her black hair was a symbol of pride and rebellion? A raised fist, so to speak.
Part of me thinks a kid acting like a feisty grownup at a mere nine years old is creepy, especially compared to Sesame Street’s wholesomeness. But there’s another part of me thinking it’s friggin’ awesome. Guess I’d have little girls whipping their hair back and forth rather than covering it with turtlenecks.
So, as the kids say nowadays, “Willow…you go, girl.”
**Reprinted from Laura K. Warrell's blog Tart & Soul at www.TartandSoul.com.