Willow Smith: “Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself”

Many people may know that last Monday, 9-year-old Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada and apparently freshest face in the pop music game, released a music video for her single “Whip My Hair”. So far, the video has been getting tons of play, making its rounds on the internets and just generally causing a stir. I personally have been jamming to the song, but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Willow Smith smiling while dancing in her music video "Whip My Hair"

What many may not know is the meaning behing “Whip My Hair”. In a recent interview with MTV, Willow Smith explained the inspiration behind her lyrics:

“‘Whip My Hair’ means don’t be afraid to be yourself, and don’t let anybody tell you that that’s wrong. Because the best thing is you.” [emphasis added.]

You tell ‘em Willow! I’m a fan of this whole thing. I appreciate the popular portrayal of a strong and confident young woman of color that promotes positive self-esteem and doesn’t involve hyper-sexualization.

I know there are those who doubt the decision of Willow’s celebrity parents to put her in the spotlight at 9 years old. And there are those those who complain about the song itself. But don’t worry, Willow has a message for you, too, buried in the chorus between exuberant if repetitive directives to “whip your hair back and forth”: “Don’t let haters keep me off my grind/ keep my head  up/ I know I’ll be fine.” Preach, Willow, preach.

Check out the video for yourself and let me know what you think. I also included a very special remix after the break inspired by this gem of a video, just for funzies :-)


Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman started blogging with Feministing in 2008, and now runs partnerships and strategy as a co-Executive Director. She is also the Director of Youth Engagement at Women Deliver, where she promotes meaningful youth engagement in international development efforts, including through running the award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. Lori was formerly the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and has also worked at the United Nations Foundation on the Secretary-General's flagship Every Woman Every Child initiative, and at the International Women’s Health Coalition and Human Rights Watch. As a leading voice on women’s rights issues, Lori frequently consults, speaks and publishes on feminism, activism and movement-building. A graduate of Harvard University, Lori has been named to The Root 100 list of the most influential African Americans in the United States, and to Forbes Magazine‘s list of the “30 Under 30” successful mediamakers. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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