'Hair Love' Won an Oscar and I Am so Glad It Did

Hair Love is an American animated short film written and directed by Matthew A. Cherry. It is about an African American father who must tackle the task of doing his daughter’s hair for the first time. The task is normally a job for Mom, but when Mom is unavailable, the father, Stephen, is faced with styling his daughter, Zuri’s, hair for a big event. Throughout the short film, we see Zuri and her father struggle to find ways to style Zuri’s hair because it acts with a mind of its own. After following a video tutorial filmed by Zuri’s mom, Stephen eventually figures it out and successfully styles Zuri’s hair in a style she likes. The two head over to visit Mom in the hospital, and here the audience finds that she has cancer and has lost her hair as a result. Zuri’s mom is pleasantly surprised when she sees Zuri’s hair styled, and Zuri draws a picture of her mom, with no hair, with a crown above her head. 

Director Matthew A. Cherry has made it clear that Hair Love was created to address the lack of representation in modern media, and the desire to inspire and show love for people of color. The feedback for the short film has been incredible, and the film currently has more than 17 million views and over 1 million likes on YouTube. People commented on the film, praising the art and the message behind it. Many have pointed out how they are grateful to the film’s creators for putting it together and bringing representation to the black community. Many even shared their stories and struggles with their own hair, from learning how to style it to learning how to love it. 

Hair Love was nominated for Best Animated Short at the Oscars, and the film took home a well-deserved win. Director Matthew A. Cherry and producer Karen Rupert Toliver accepted the award, and reminded the audience of the reason they created the film in the first place. Toliver pointed out that representation in the media is not only important in general, but is especially important in cartoons, because they are many of our first encounters with media and these first impressions shape how we view our world. We often forget how impactful the media can be on our youth, but the reality is that cartoons and TV shows that we expose children to will shape the way the view others, themselves, and their role in society. The audience was overwhelmingly happy for their win, and so was everyone sitting at home. Not only is Hair Love an incredible film, but what it stands for is important too. The Oscar for Best Animated Short is a win for the film, and it is also a win for diversity in Hollywood. 

It is so incredible to watch Hollywood and modern media change right before our eyes. More and more diversity is being included in films, and better yet, in award-winning films. This year, Parasite, a Korean movie, took home four Oscars, including Best Picture. Hair Love and Parasite serve as incredible reminders of how powerful media representation is and the importance of recognizing art from many different cultures. Representation in the media, especially in films, will impact everyone, from our children to our parents. Films that include a cast of people of all genders, races, and cultures allow audiences to learn a new perspective and teach our youth more about our people and our world. I am so happy that Hair Love won Best Animated Short, and I hope that diversity in the media will continue to be recognized and continue to thrive.

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