Philippe Morgese, the single dad who won stole our hearts with his serious hairstyling skills last year, is at it again.
Morgese, 34, of Daytona Beach, Florida, taught himself how to style hair after becoming a single dad when his now 10-year-old daughter Emma was just 1 year old. Eventually, he decided to share his skills with the world, starting local workshops to teach other dads how to do the same.
The movement exploded, garnering world-wide attention and prompting Morgese to start Daddy Daughter Hair Factory, which has now gone international with over 70+ libraries and community centers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico hosting classes under the DDHF name.
Always humble, despite being dubbed “The Braidfather” by his fellow hairstyling instructors, Morgese is quick to point out that throughout everything he has accomplished, it all comes back to spending time with his daughter — “it’s about the bond, not the braid” — and challenging the negative way fathers are often portrayed.
Now, Morgese is hosting what may be the most adorable hairstyling competition ever: fathers competing to transform their daughters into their favorite Disney princesses.
The only rules? Photos have to be taken by the contestants (no professional photographers allowed) and … have fun! Although the only prize is the admiration of, um, everyone … this year’s winner will get to pick next year’s contest.
Morgese kicked off the competition by turning Emma into Princess Leia. (And I have to say, girl’s pulling it off in a way that I think would make Carrie proud.)
For Morgese, the contest is a fun way to show his daughter “that she can be anything she wants to be.” And we hate to say it, but Emma’s got some serious competition from the other entries.
Colin Gorman, 33, & Victoria, 3, as Moana | Nevada
“We’ve been watching a bunch of Cinderella and Moana recently, and Victoria couldn’t decide between the two,” said Gorman. “I put some thought into it and felt like Moana was a perfect fit for her look. We did some overnight curls to match Moana’s beautiful wavy hair, added a little product to keep it managed and topped it off with a tropical flower.”
As a single father, Gorman confesses that he can be a little “goofy” and embarrassing at times, but that his heart is always in the right place. He works extra hard to teach his daughter life skills and the two work as a team on everything from hairstyles and fashion, to cooking dinner, cleaning, and even working on cars and motorcycles.
“I work hard to encourage her beauty, yet equally as hard to show her that beauty also comes from within,” Gorman explained. “Intelligence, kindness, thoughtfulness, and forgiveness are all just as important as feeling beautiful.”
Daniel Morrison, 43, & Alana, 6, as Cinderella | Central New Jersey
After his daughter donned her first Ariel costume for Halloween when she was three, single father Daniel Morrison made a vow to always match costumes with her, even packing matching costumes when he surprised her with a Disney cruise in 2015. (He made his own Prince Charming suit.)
The creative dad, who is now a hair instructor with DDHF, welcomes the opportunity to give back and hopes to teach his daughter to look beyond external beauty. “Although beautiful on the outside, the Disney princesses also eloquently demonstrate compassion and internal beauty,” he noted.
Derrick Culpepper, 40, & Linda, 4, as Tiana | Dallas, Texas
Married dad Derrick Culpepper was inspired to enter his daughter Linda into the contest because he feels she encourages him to be a “better dad.”
Culpepper would like the voters to know that he frequently tells his daughter that she is beautiful both inside and out and reinforces the qualities of kindness, respect, and being polite.
And Ms. Linda would like you all to know that she is rocking that feather tiara, thank you very much.
Greg Wickherst, 40, & Izzy, 4, as Princess Merida | Pueblo, Colorado
For single dad Greg Wickherst, the decision of which princess to dress up as was an easy one because his daughter is a real-life Princes Merida.
“She does not easily conform to the standards of society,” he explained. “She’s a ‘wild child!’ My daughter is ‘Brave’ because she has walked through the last year of her young life with amazing braveness after losing her mother. She has shown me what it means to conquer life with a ‘brave spirit.’”
“I am who’s supposed to be the one teaching her how to be brave,” Wickherst continued, “But she, at her young age, has actually taught ME.”
Jason Blackmon, 42, & Phoenyx, 7, as Belle | Brookshire, Texas
Jason Blackmon, also a single dad, started doing Phoenyx’s hair a little over a year ago when she started school. “I saw all the little girls with their hair done by Mommy, and I didn’t want Phoenyx to feel like she was missing out because she lived with her dad,” he explained.
Blackmon also added that he relates a lot to the Disney character Goofy — “He was a single dad and never really let the world get him down.”
Patrick Wittman, 28, & Sylvia, 5, as Belle | Rochester, New York
Full-time single dad Patrick Wittman calls getting involved with the Daddy Daughter Hair Factory “such a joy.”
After his daughter underwent heart surgery at 15 months old on Valentine’s Day, due to an inlet ventricular septal heart defect, he became determined to do anything he could to help his little girl reach her full potential — and he admits he’ll do anything to make her smile, right down to standing on stools.
“When Sylvia saw the scar on her chest from heart surgery and cried, I vowed from that day on to tell her and show her how beautiful she is from within,” said Wittman. “She has learned to see people from not who they are from the outside but from the inside and that scar will be a constant reminder of how strong and capable she is and will always be.”
Shawn Watson, 37, & Lilly, 8, as Cinderella | Clearwater, Kansas
When he’s not moonlighting as a Fairy Godmother, single father Shawn Watson encourages his daughter to be curious, read books, and never be afraid to be herself. “I relate most to Maurice from Beauty and the Beast,” he added. “Half of the time I feel like I’m bumbling my way through fatherhood, but I continue to do my best.”
For the record, we think you’re doing just fine, Shawn.