"Young Love" Normalizes Natural Hair in Cartoons, and It's About Time

It's not often that you get to see natural curly hair on the small screen, but thanks to Matthew Cherry's latest TV series "Young Love," that is starting to change.

Back in June, the film director gave a sneak peek of the show's storyline on Instagram. The series, which is airing this fall on Max, is set in Chicago and follows the Young-Love family, including parents Stephen Love and Angela Young, daughter Zuri, and their pet cat Rocky. "They juggle their careers, relationships, parenthood, social issues & multi-generational dynamics while trying to make a better life for themselves," Cherry's caption read in part. Now, while that premise isn't exactly new, the fact that everyone — from the father to the newscaster — has natural coils is a welcome addition to TV discourse that is long overdue.

What's more, hair seems to be a central theme on the show that highlights the shared experience of so many Black kids growing up. The trailer showcases everything from young Zuri struggling with feeling childish with the plaits her mom created for her to her dad saving the day with afro puffs, and even her parents styling her hair together — all while wearing their own natural styles. This isn't the first cartoon to feature characters with natural hair — shows like "Rugrats" and "Gracie's Corner" first paved the way — but let's be real: this kind of intentional natural hair celebration in media is few and far between. It's about time we start seeing it hit the masses, with projects where big names like Issa Rae are attached.

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Black hairstyles were not always the norm on screen, and the lack of representation has had consequential effects on the community at large. Black hair has become politicized and many people grew up thinking that the way their hair grew out of their heads was something that needed to be "fixed." Keka Heron, a professional hair and makeup artist, previously told POPSUGAR, "We've been taught not to be seen as different or to stand out in any way. I have heard stories of professionals in the '70s and '80s who wore locs and Afros and had to cut them off in order to enter the 'professional' sector."

This has resulted in salons full of stylists with no idea how to cater to natural hair, Black models cutting their coils to avoid dealing with uneducated stylists at work, and even people feeling like they have to wear extensions for fear of not being taken seriously in a professional setting.

That is why, simple as it may seem, "Young Love" is important for everyone to see, no matter your age. In the era of the CROWN Act — which is still attempting to be passed on a federal level, by the way — more representation means society is one step closer to a generation that truly sees natural hair as the norm. So until we get to that place, we'll continue championing as many of these stories as possible. Because while you might consider hair an unworthy topic of an entire series, it's the exact opposite. Young Love is the letter of self-acceptance that Black children and the community as a whole deserve.