Life

Artist Pearl Low Drew On Her Black-Hair Experience For Magical 'Hair Love' Short

Hair love is family love and self-love.

A little girl, Zuri, bounds out of bed, excited to get ready for a very special visit. She wants to make sure her hair is perfect, just like her mom taught her. But, things don’t go exactly as planned.

Enter Dad. Will he be able to transform Zuri’s voluminous hair into the style she’s longing for?

To find out, you’ll need to watch “Hair Love,” the wonderful animated short that won an Oscar Sunday for Best Animated Short Film. The film has a Canadian connection: Vancouver’s Pearl Low worked on the project as a story artist, and helped bring Zuri and her Black-hair story to life.

Low literally drew on her own experience as a Chinese-Jamaican Canadian kid growing up with a Chinese single mom who didn’t know how to handle curly hair, just like Zuri’s dad.

“There are a lot of parallels in the story and in my life,” Low told HuffPost Canada. “While watching the [finished] film I was like, ‘Aww that’s me!’”

Low and her mom went through a period of experimentation to figure out what worked for Pearl’s hair. But it wasn’t until she connected with other family members who shared their experiences with their own Black hair that things clicked.

“I would say to my younger self, ‘Your hair’s not a problem, and it doesn’t need fixing,” said the illustrator and author. “You just need to learn about it, and this is who you are, and it’s OK. It’s great, actually.’”

Low’s self-published comic about her own hair, “Tension,” led to a referral for work on “Hair Love.” She hopes the short film will help people understand what Black family life is really like.

“I want people to take away from the film that Black interactions, Black family dynamics like that are normal. That Black fathers involved with their daughters is a normal thing too, and quite common.”

Hear more from Pearl Low in our video above, and watch the full animated short, “Hair Love,” below.