I can’t tell you how crazy my hair drives me on a weekly basis. I write about my hair frequently because I feel a lot of my friends can relate, and the ones who can’t at least want to understand.
I went to see Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair” last week with two girlfriends, one from Trinidad and one who is mixed, like me. [NOTE: "Good Hair" opens October 23 nationwide.] One uses a flat iron to wear her hair straight and the other wears hers natural. Me? I relax mine with chemical relaxer every two months and then spend the weeks in between visiting a Dominican salon to get a wash & set to keep it straight.
Here’s a quick video I made last weekend to show you what I deal with to make my hair beautiful.
I knew 20 minutes into the movie that I wanted to see it again. It is intelligent, hilarious and honest and I recommend it for anyone – black women who will laugh with recognition, white people who want to understand what all the fuss is about and yes, any man I’ve ever dated – please go see this movie. (This reminds me: A man I dated last year went and got satin pillowcases for me so I could spend the night without having to wrap my hair. That’s a huge commitment and I salute him for it. Future love interests, take note.)
Chris Rock plays the narrator throughout the film and focuses on 3 main story lines:
- the behind-the-scenes drama and economic impact of the biggest black hair show, which takes place annually in Atlanta
- the feelings Rock has about raising two daughters and what they’ll learn and believe about their own hair
- how black celebrities and average women feel about and care for their hair
Wrapped up in each of those themes are several moments where I was hit by a surprisingly insightful nugget of information or doubled over and stomped my feet because I was laughing so hard.
For instance: Did you know that in India, thousands of woman and girls shave their heads to reject vanity as a sacrifice to the gods? This hair gets sold, and is what goes on to support the hair weave industry that keeps long, silky locks on so many black women’s heads.
As for the hilarious parts, you can’t expect anything less from a project involving Rock. One favorite part of mine is when the only white hairdresser in the movie goes to a dermatologist to get pretty for the hair show. Remember I said that when you go see it, because I don’t want to give too much away.
I most enjoyed the humor, but I did learn so much about the black hair care industry; about the chemicals that go into the products used to relax hair and about the cultures dominating the ownership of those African-American hair care companies (Hint: there’s only one major company still owned by African-Americans).
I didn’t walk away feeling any differently about my own hair or how I choose to take care of it. I accept the fact that I am part of a culture that stereotypically places more value on hair that looks “white” i.e. straight and silky.
I do relax my hair. I’m half-white myself and I was raised by white people who didn’t know how to care for my hair. On the other hand, I didn’t have any black women in my life to teach me how to care for it either. Now that I live in a city with access to great stylists and products appropriate for my hair type, I still choose to relax my hair and wear it straight. And it looks better and looks healthier than it ever did before I moved here.
That’s my choice. If you watch until the end of the short video I made last weekend when I relaxed my hair and went for a haircut, you can see how happy I am when my hair looks good. My whole demeanor changes when I’m having a great hair day.
And that, I felt, was the point of “Good Hair.” Whatever YOU feel “good hair” means is cool, so long as you feel happy and beautiful.
More Good Hair Links:
“Good Hair Week” blog posts with a perspective on weaves, courtesy of my friend Tameeka
“What’s Good About Good Hair?” another perspective on the movie from blogger Afrobella, who writes extensively about caring for her natural tresses.
Highlights and Official Movie Trailer on YouTube