plez sez: saturday was my wife's birthday, so it was only fitting that we went to see chris rock's movie "Good Hair" which opened on friday here in the atlanta area. you see my wife is a Black woman and chris rock's movie is about the Black women and their hair; we've been married for close to 20 years and the only constant over all those years is the on-going saga of the care of my wife's hair. the other reason why we had to go to see this movie on its opening weekend is that one of the featured stylists - jason griggers, the white guy who should've won the bronner brothers hair show battle royale - has been my wife's hair stylist for close to ten years! jason autographed a "good hair" movie poster for my daughter, who is the same age as his son.
so despite my obvious bias going in, plezWorld found this movie to be quite enjoyable! it is a hilarious, yet sobering account of the how the care of Black hair is such a big business - it is a multi-billion dollar industry that has been wrestled away from the control of the Black community. More than 60% of all hair care products are consumed by Black people who come in at 12% of the US population. The sobering part of the equation is that control of the industry is in the hands of large white cosmetics companies (like Revlon and Clairol) and asian hair care products companies who will not do business with Black-owned retailers.
and throughout the movie was this sad undercurrent of "self hate" in the Black community as it relates to our hair: this longing to have long straight hair like white women, the perception that white people will not do business with someone who projects an afrocentric image (nappy hair or dreads or braids), this multi-billion dollar craving for products to make our hair more like our white counterparts, and this near insatiable need to even purchase hair from other ethnicities (i.e., people from eastern asia and india) and sew onto the top of our own hair to cover what we were born with.
my daughter's hair is not permed (yet!), but my wife has already had to deal with the "my hair is ugly because it is not long and doesn't swing like the little white girls in my school" issue. i vividly remember my mother putting a hot comb over an open flame on the stove in preparation for straightening my sister's hair when she was a little girl (my sister who is now a grown woman wears her hair in a natural state with long twists).
so even though there were plenty of laughs in the movie, there were some portions of the film that nearly brought tears to my eyes... how can we HATE our brown skin and our gorgeous curly locks so much? is being a Black person that bad (michael jackson bleached his skin white, for Christ's sake)? does having nappy hair equal being unworthy of being a productive citizen in the united states? my daughter is beautiful (inside and outside), but why does society continue to tell her at every turn that she is more beautiful with her hair in an unnatural straightened state?
note: by the way, my daughter normally wears her hair in braids, as it is much easier to care for by her busy working mother. but it was straightened (by another stylist who works in jason's shop) earlier this week because it was time for her annual school pictures... and we couldn't have an image of her youth saved for prosperity with curly hair in its natural state!
Read the Sundance Film Festival article about "Good Hair".
Read the New York Times movie review about "Good Hair".
Read the Salon.com article titled "Chris Rock's good hair day".
Read the Kansas City Star editorial about Chris Rock's movie.