Chris Rock, a man with two daughters, asks about good hair, as defined by Black Americans, mostly Black women. He visits Bronner Brothers' annual hair convention in Atlanta. He tells us about sodium hydroxide, a toxin used to relax hair. He looks at weaves, and he travels to India where tonsure ceremonies produce much of the hair sold in America. A weave is expensive: he asks who makes the money. We visit salons and barbershops, central to the Black community. Rock asks men if they can touch their mates' hair - no, it's decoration. Various talking heads (many of them women with good hair) comment. It's about self image. Maya Angelou and Tracie Thoms provide perspective. Written by
I enjoyed the movie Good Hair, because I felt it raised all of the issues regarding the African-American community and the thought process behind "good hair". This movie wasn't a preachy movie and introduced many concepts in a very subtle way ( the psyche of good hair, media images of black hair and acceptance/rejection of black hair in its natural state (the scene with high school girls, who tell the one girl with natural hair, she wouldn't be hired for a job and that she didn't look "together" was jarring.
I felt the film did a good job of covering who controls the economics behind black hair (hardly any blacks, mainly whites and Asians) and the staggering amount of revenue ($9 billion annually) in the industry, generated by people who own less than a percent of the industry. The film looked at everyday people who get weaves, and pay serious money (the lay-away plan was sad, funny, and ingenious at the same time) and the reason they feel weaves are necessary. Calling relaxers "creamy crack"was funny and alarming at the same time. The health risks, the thought of lye and the discussion of scalp burns was right on target.
The message regarding the impact of celebrity in our culture is so deep, that every day women will spend beyond their means to look like a Beyonce or Rhianna, though they don't have either of these women's financial means. The idea that straight "white" looking hair is equated with beauty and self worth was a undercurrent theme in this movie.
The male point of view is represented by the rich and famous (Andre Harrell, Paul Mooney) and the barbershop. No matter what a black man's economic status is, they all were catching the same type of hell regarding not being able to touch a woman's weaved head. Rev. Al Sharpton was the exception to this dilemma, but didn't mention the limitations of having relaxed hair. Yet he did point out hair shouldn't sabotage a black woman's economic situation, but often does. Money spent on a weave could be spend on education or a 401K plan instead. Black men also feel the economic pinch the weave provides, because they often have to provide money for weave upkeep and to keep their relationship.
The limitations of having a weave (no swimming, no touching the hair, can also be examined in the movie "Something New" which is also an examination of the weave culture in addition to interracial relationships between black women and white men. The question was posed do some black men deal with white women exclusively, because they can go swimming, and have their hair touched, opened up another can of worms. This movie can't explore all of the psyche behind the phrase "good hair" but does a good job of opening up the conversation.
One thing the movie does is make the audience look at the children who looked too young to be putting chemicals in their tender scalps,and who seemed to be indoctrinated with the message that their hair needed to be straight in order for them to be considered pretty. That was just sad, because the people sending them those messages were their own mothers,grandmothers, and society at large. As a black woman with relaxed hair, I really have to think about the ideology, society, and the culture that has influenced the choice I've made regarding the hair choice I am making. These women are making a choice, but if they knew of the insidious nature that feeds the beast, would they or I consider a different reality, which is our natural hair?
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