'Daddies Do Hair, Too' event does more than teach dads how to style natural hair
When the animated short Hair Love hit theaters, it thrilled audiences. For one, it — and the book it was based on — showed a Black family, something creator and director Matthew Cherry points out is often missing when it comes to representation in animation; and two, it showed an African American father struggling to do his daughter's hair. That resonated with a lot of people.
A father-daughter event Friday in Woodlawn offers a chance for dads to learn how to style and take care of their daughters' natural hair.
Kimberley Stephens is manager of the Perinatal Outreach Program at Mercy Hospital, one of the organization's hosting the event, "Daddies Do Hair, Too." She says a lot of dads struggle with doing hair.
"What we thought was to have stylists in place to help teach them how to do hair," she explains. "Just simple hairstyles, like a ponytail or two ponytails, to teach them how to part and care for their hair."
While spending that time together is good for bonding, she says it's also important for a girl's self-esteem.
"Our young girls — their self-esteem is basically a part of their hair. They feel good when their hair is done and they're feeling pretty. But as we know, there's a lot of hair discrimination that goes on with young girls. So if we teach daddies how to do hair, it gives mommies a break, and then they feel good about having that special time," Stephens points out.
She acknowledges part of the battle is overcoming a stigma still associated with men doing hair.
"I've talked to several dads and they'll say 'It's not a manly thing to do.' If ... moms aren't in the picture, then they'll pass it on to grandmothers or aunties, but a lot of dads embrace it," Stephens says.
The perception is changing.
"A lot of dads embrace it ... because that's a special bonding time, and the daughters are able to direct or try to direct their dads on how they want their hair. And it's just really cute," she says, adding, "It's actually a thing on social media right now. There's so many dads that are picking up on this and it's becoming less of a stigma. It's becoming less and less a negative look."
Participants will learn how to do several simple hair styles and how to care for natural hair, and they'll receive a goodie bag of styling products to use at home. There will also be information about discrimination and harassment related to natural hair. Dinner will be provided.
The event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. is free but registration is required. It's co-hosted by the Fatherhood Collaborative of Hamilton County and the Unspoken Words Alliance.
"I know that 90% of girls believe they're beautiful with their hair until they're faced with differences, either at school or daycare or other places that they frequent," Stephens says. "I just want them to know that starting off early with learning about their hair, feeling beautiful and understanding that they are beautiful with their hair being curly, and accepting that, is a part of their self-esteem and it can help either build it or break it."