October 18, 2010 — -- "Sesame Street" has always been about learning. But one particular muppet is getting tremendous praise for her latest lesson; teaching young, black girls that their hair is beautiful just the way it is.
The viral video of a brown Muppet, meant to represent an African-American girl, singing, "I really, really, really love my hair" has been visited by a quarter of a million people on YouTube. The video, which has made many people smile, was inspired by one father's love for his daughter.
Joey Mazzarino, the head writer at "Sesame Street," who is also a puppeteer, adopted a little girl from Ethiopia named Segi.
"She's like my little muse," Mazzarino said.
As Mazzarino and his wife watched their daughter grow, he noticed a change when she started playing with Barbies. Segi started saying negative things about herself and her own hair.
"She was going through this phase where she really wanted like the long, blonde hair. ... She would look at Barbies and really want the hair."
Segi is not alone. ABC news talked to several young, African American girls, who told us their feelings about their hair. Eleven-year-old Monique told ABC News, "I think I want to straighten my hair because it's curly and it's puffy."
The feelings held by Monique and Mazzarino's daughter are nothing new in the black community.
Comedian Chris Rock said he was prompted to make his documentary about the $9 billion black hair business "Good Hair" when his five-year-old daughter asked him, "'Daddy, how come I don't have good hair?"
The idea of "good hair" and the feeling that one must have straight hair can be seen in vintage ads for black beauty products. The products tell young black women to straighten their hair. One product, Hair Strate perm, tells black women that the product will keep their hair so straight, they can "swim, shower, shampoo ... hair can't revert!"
The 1960s "Black is beautiful" movement brought the Afro into fashion, but it was never able to completely drown out the historical and perhaps subliminal message for young black girls that their hairdo was a don't.
Take Whoopi Goldberg for instance. Her early days of standup included her portrayal of a little black girl who wore a towel on her head.
"This is my long, luxurious blonde hair," Goldberg said.
Mazzarino: 'I Just Want Kids To Know Their Hair Is Beautiful'
Mazzarino decided to help his daughter and other young girls appreciate their beauty.
"I just want kids to know their hair is beautiful," Mazzarino said. "I just hope little kids, little girls see this and really feel positive and great about themselves."
Mazzarino wrote the song and with the help of the "Sesame Street" designed the little girl Muppet dancing around, wearing different hairstyles like braids and cornrows, singing, "Don't need a trip to the beauty shop because I love what I've got on top. ... I want to make the world aware I love my hair.
The video hasn't struck a chord only with little girls, but grown African-American women as well.
ABC News found hundreds of responses on the Internet like this: "I wish 'Sesame Street' would've had this segment about 18-19 years ago because my mother and I surely needed to see this message."
Another woman wrote online, "My daughter loves this video. ... I could see her eyes light up as she began to sing along with a little girl with hair like hers.
For Mazzarino, the response has been overwhelming.
"I was reading some [responses] the other day and I just started to well up," he said. "I am just amazed at how far the reach is."
The reaction of Mazzarino's daughter might have been the most important reaction of all.
"She was jumping up and down, dancing and she really loved it," Mazzarino said.
As for her relationship with her hair, Mazzarino said she loves her hair now.
"She's really come into her own. ... Hopefully that stays that way," he said.