Muppet Wikia published the back story of how the song I Love My Hair came to be. Read a insert of that post below.
“I Love My Hair” is a Sesame Street song performed by an Anything Muppet girl. She sings about how proud she is of her hair and the many ways she can wear it. The girl is voiced by Chantylla Johnson and puppeteered by Kevin Clash.
The video was posted on Sesame Workshop’s YouTube channel in October 2010, and quickly garnered online attention for its positive message. Following the original debut of the segment, other airings feature a modified music track.
My 2 1/2 year old daughter Elyssa and I love the Sesame Street song I Love My Hair. The puppet is a pretty brown girl with a mini afro just like my daughter. In the video, the girl sings about how special, beautiful and unique her hair is because she can do it in all types of styles. Elyssa’s eyes always light up when she watches the video. She rubs her hair and dances around. Words can’t describe how happy it makes me feel to see her at such a young age celebrating and embracing her hair. After watching the video one night she laid in her bed and said “Mommy, I love my hair, I’m beautiful!” I smiled and said “Yes you are baby!!
My husband and I have been blessed with two girls, Elyssa (2 1/2 yrs) and Elaina (8 months) and we call them our pretty brown girls. We tell them that we love their brown skin, hair and eyes. When I comb Elyssa’s hair I tell her how pretty it is. In a world that tells our girls that they need to have light skin, with skinny bodies and straight hair to their butt, we as parents MUST teach our children that they’re ALL beautiful and special just the way God made them. We oil Elyssa’s scalp and comb her afro and let her pick out which bow she wants to wear and we tell her that she’s pretty, smart, holy, kind and a child of God. I’m not trying to raise self centered vain daughters, I’m trying to teach them early to love the skin they’re in. Our girls are fearfully and wonderfully made, Psalm 139:14 NIV.
Psalm 139:13-16 Message Bible
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
I grew up attending mainly private schools where the African American population was small. In the 80’s and 90’s it wasn’t as cool to wear natural hair as it is now. I remember the white female students being so curious about the texture of my hair and the hair styles I wore and asking lots of questions. I remember being different and not always feeling special about it. While I loved my brown skin and big lips, I secretly wanted my hair to be long and silky straight permanently, not just for the few hours after my mom pressed it. My mom taught me that I was beautiful and made in the image of God. While my parents did a great job building my self esteem, I don’t believe that brown girls were embraced and celebrated like they are today. Today there are more brown baby dolls on the shelves, cool cartoons that feature diverse female characters like Doc McStuffins and organizations like Pretty Brown Girl and Black Girls Rock just to name a few. I believe that it’s so important for children of color to see faces and hair styles like their’s being celebrated; therefore we make sure that our girls have books and dolls that feature brown children as well as other races. We are all children of God and He made no mistakes when He created us. If we don’t teach our children to love themselves then who will?
Her name is Elyssa Janee’ Willis and she loves her hair!!
Sesame head writer Joey Mazzarino told New York Magazine:
“ My wife and I, we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia, so we’re two white parents raising an African-American daughter. We knew issues of skin color would come up, and then hair came up a bit last year when she wasn’t really loving her curls and wanted to have long, blonde, straight hair. She would put on wigs, she would want her hair like her mom’s or a Barbie, and I thought maybe it was an issue because she was being raised by white parents and she sees us every day.
But then when Chris Rock’s film Good Hair came out, I was talking to my executive producer about it and I realized, ‘Oh, this is a bigger issue. This isn’t just my child, it’s [happening with other] African-American girls.’ So I asked my executive producer, ‘Hey, can I take a shot at writing something for this?’ So I quickly sat down in my office and thought about what I say to my daughter, and we wrote this song…