Out of the Mouths of Babes: Little Girls Featured In My Natural Hair Is Beautiful PSA
Producer-writer Maureen Aladin’s empowering PSA, “My Natural Hair is Beautiful” features African-American girls of all ages asking if the viewer finds their hair “ugly.” The video has garnered over 12,000 hits on YouTube and is inspiring a much-needed conversation.
The project was birthed when Aladin was working with Aunt Jackie’s Curls and Coils and other top YouTube hair vloggers on a special project. As they discussed several hair-related themes vlogger Chime Edwards a.ka. HairCrush conceptualized the PSA as a means to combat the negative voices surrounding natural hair styles. The goal was to dispel myths on black and non-white hair. Aunt Jackie’s Curls sponsored the shoot, which took place at SoundClash NYC.
Our hair has been big news in the past year, particularly where our children are involved. There’s a great deal of ignorance and your project is an important one. Thank you for doing it. What inspired your PSA?
There were two separate incidents that made national news in 2013, where Tiana Parker and Vanessa VanDyke were asked not to return to school with their natural hair but they represent the tons of children and women that frequently experience this kind of criticism. This PSA could not have been more timely.
I have always been passionate about developing and producing impactful content and this PSA has a global message of universal love, non-judgment, and self-acceptance.
It is unfortunate that children are not allowed to simply “be”. It is why bullying is so rampant and teens undergo an awkward stage of acceptance. Children should be nourished and taught during adolescence to love who they are, be confident in themselves, and never allow others to define them or their beauty.
Self-love is the key to personal development so I was very happy to find your work. In your opinion, what part does beauty and hair play in a child’s self-esteem?
Beauty has a definite “look” in our society. We are constantly bombarded with definitive images of beauty through magazines, television, and movies. It plays a significantly tremendous role on a child’s self-esteem, because we tend to give someone’s outer appearance more value before seeing the beauty within a person’s character.
We have to teach our children, from early on, that real beauty is emitted on the outside when it resonates first from the inside. Beauty is love of self, confidence, compassion and strength. It is knowing that every time you look in the mirror you love what you see, and you don’t desire to be anyone else but uniquely you – even on a bad day.
When I was a child I had a dress called my “Afro dress.” I was allowed to wear my big free-flowing curls and coils out as a positive reward and that made me feel like my hair was beautiful. What is your own hair story?
I have never been caught up on hair. I was natural before going natural had the impact that it has today on the state of the African-American woman’s self-esteem. I’ve been weaved up, pressed, curled, relaxed, colored and back. I currently wear my hair natural because I suffered from fibroids. After studies and research showed the link between hair relaxers and fibroids, I decided I no longer wanted anything to do with that chemical. Right around that time, my eldest sister cut off her hair to show her daughters their natural beauty. After my surgery, I big-chopped and looked forward to the versatility I knew I would still enjoy with my natural hair.
Maureen, what has been the reaction to this beautiful PSA?
We have received nothing but positive feedback. So many women have shared the PSA and commented that they “wish they saw a video like this when they were growing up”; or that they would “share it with the little girl/boy in their life.”
Some people do not understand the implications of what going natural means for the black female. They are unaware of its political roots and the fact that it has been rejected and frowned upon throughout history, which has made going natural difficult to embrace.
Our hair has been deemed (even today) as a distraction, which is what those little girls faced at school. We are told to “tame” it or “alter” it so that it conforms to the European standard of beauty. The history of our natural roots goes deep. However, with the new surge of women on YouTube who passionately desired to rediscover their natural hair and forego the chemicals, a community was built. We now have a digital community of women sharing their journey, which transcended beyond hair, but touch upon health, self-love, and a new found confidence that make the idea of going natural more tangible, more acceptable, more logical.
We are all about empowered families and parenting at Mommy Noire. How do you recommend parents, teachers and children use the PSA?
I would love to see parents, teachers and children share this PSA in schools, at churches, in salons, with family and friends, and of course on social media and blogs. There are certain foundations that should be seeded and watered to prevent a child from believing what society wants them to believe.
We have to speak light into our children so that the greatness within them will always lie awake. When their light is dimmed, their potential runs the risk of being damaged. Although developed specifically to speak to black and non-white children and the hair controversies they face, this PSA is really bigger than hair and extends beyond color lines. It’s about loving who you are. It has a message of positivity and self confidence. It’s crucial for anyone to understand, especially children. It is in our younger years where we develop the basis of who we are and what we can become, as we grow.
It has been the impetus for my producing partner Sharra Dade’s Couture Confidence Camp. She developed this camp with a clear vision based around confidence. The mission is simple yet powerful “Confidence neatly designed and outfitted for kids…because wearing your confidence should be fashionable.” Teaching self-acceptance and love of oneself is something I am very passionate about.
What’s your response for those parents who feel that kinky, curly or coily hair is just too hard to take care of?
My approach has always been the same for the many things in life that are “hard.” You must come to terms with that. Yes, something may be “difficult,” but should that prevent you from learning about it, going after it, mastering it, and becoming a champion of it? Absolutely not! We have to change our perspective. Once we decide to shrug off the fact that something isn’t initially easy, we won’t allow that to be the reason we don’t try something, or the reason that we quit. Have a quick pep talk with yourself. Explain to yourself that nothing in life is easy. Then say “Ok, now that I’m past that, what are my next steps?” If you change your mentality, you will change your life.
Learn to love what God gave you. Take care of it, be patient with it and don’t ever be afraid to try something new.
Yes, yes, yes! Please tell us about your work, Maureen, and what’s next for you and this project.
I love creating content that inspires, entertain, and makes you think. I Co-Executive Produced an online reality based cooking show called Comida Caliente with Stefani Vara. I suggested we use the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, to generate production funds. In May of 2013, we raised over 10K in 30 days. I flew to Houston with my crew and shot an 8 webisode series, within three days. In December, the show was picked up by a major New York talent agency and will go to broadcast in 2014. My production company TWELVE18 Media is working on another exciting project which I’m looking forward to sharing with everyone this year. TWELVE18 Media is constantly creating and cooking up content so I am just excited about 2014. It has definitely been a ton of work and nothing comes easy but I am thankful.
My last name is Aladin and I’d like to consider myself as one who creates digital and broadcast content magic.