Disney Channel’s popular daughter/father comedy “Sydney to the Max,” starring actress and musician Ruth Righi as outgoing middle schooler Sydney Reynolds, explores the beauty and complexities of Black hair in a new episode premiering FRIDAY, APRIL 30 (8:25 p.m. EDT/PDT), on Disney Channel and DisneyNOW. Disney Channel provided a a preview of the Sydney to the Max The Hair Switch Project episode, read on for my full review!
In the new episode, Sydney begins to question her straight hairstyle after her classmate Jada suggests that she try wearing her hair natural sometimes. This sends Sydney on a hair journey tied to her cultural identity and memories of her late mom, Alisha. Her dad Max tries to help, but Sydney is still at a loss and calls on her grandmother Maya. Back in the ’90s, young Alisha is faced with a different hair dilemma when school picture day rolls around, and her mom has booked a salon appointment for her to get a relaxer. Alisha doesn’t know what to do because she loves her naturally coifed hair and feels like she loses a piece of herself every time she gets it straightened.
Geared for Kids 6-11 and their families, “The Hair Switch Project” was written by Kourtney Richard and directed by Morenike Joela Evans.
Sydney to the Max “The Hair Switch Project” Review
As a parent of two mixed daughters who both have curly hair, the Sydney to the Max hair episode was right on time. In this particular episode, Sydney starts to question why she straightens her hair everyday when it’s so time consuming. After discussing it with her Dad and Grandma Judy (both White) Sydney learns that it was just easier for them to take her to the salon, especially after her mother passed away.
This brings up some conflicted feelings for Sydney and she confides in her Grandma Maya that she thinks she is ready for a new style. Grandma Maya who used to straighten her hair everyday assures her that this is totally ok and it doesn’t matter how she wears her hair, as long as she is true to herself.
I liked that the episode didn’t hair shame at all in fact Grandma Maya says it’s ok to straighten your hair or not, that Black hair is meant to worn in all sorts of ways. Sydney’s hair stylist reiterates this and gives her several ideas to on how Sydney can wear her hair. The conversation between Grandma Maya and Sydney literally made me cry. There are so many people who would have loved to hear that ‘Black is beautiful’ and staying true to oneself is important as children, including myself. My takeaway from this episode was that it’s crucial to celebrate Black girls and their hair, no matter how it’s worn.
One thing I wanted to note was that it’s clear that it’s critical for these types of shows to have a hair and makeup staff that understand Black hair. It’s clear in this episode that the characters have hair that is thoughtfully styled and moisturized. Even Sydney’s new look is a fun play on twists and a high ponytail, reiterating the fact that Black hair can be work in thousands of different ways.
Disney Moms of Color will be live tweeting the episode on April 30th on twitter! Follow along at the hashtag #DMOCxDisney!