In the documentary, “Good Hair” Chris Rock does a great job exploring and revealing the complex cultural and even socioeconomic issues that revolve around Black hair. Black, White, relaxed, nappy or bald, every woman will be able to relate to the lengths, (no pun intended), women go to in order to achieve a hairstyle she believes is attractive and/or “acceptable” regardless of the monetary and even physical cost.
Men who view this film will not only get a deeper understanding of what Black women put themselves through to be cute, but Black men will also possibly see some of their own sentiments expressed about their experience with Black women and hair. One guy in the film said he felt more intimacy with White women because they allow men to touch their hair, whereas most Black women don’t. (Since when does the level of intimacy diminish just because you can’t do a root check?) But the controversy of Black hair doesn’t end there.
“Good Hair" delves into not only what Black women endure to achieve and/or meet the standard for beautiful hair, but explores the deeply rooted influence of where that standard comes from and its effects on Black women’s perception of their own natural allure. In other words, Black girls have been taught to believe their kinks are cursed and must have straight, silky, superior hair. And we’ve been going through hell and high water not to mention buckets of relaxer to get our tresses to bounce and behave. I, a Black woman who had been led to believe that straightening my hair was the only way to deal with my “unmanageable” mane am currently transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, and loving it!
I was always given the impression that my coarse hair had to be straightened, tamed if you will. I can’t remember when I got my first relaxer, but I do remember being told that my hair was too thick and coarse to be worn naturally and it wouldn’t “hold a press”. And I remember envying the light skin-ded girls whose hair cascaded down their backs and could achieve spiraling tendrils with just a spritz of water.
After thousands of dollars and possibly the same amount of hours spent in the hair salon enduring the temple singeing sting of a perm in the effort to get my roots as straight as possible, I’m done. I just can’t do it anymore. Not to mention the stress and tear inducing trials of hair breaking off and coming out from over processing and the overall fragility of hair that’s natural composition has been chemically altered. For girls who wanna do it, cool, but I‘m out and I’m learning to love my nappy, kinky, strong, versatile hair in its natural state after a lifetime of being made to feel afraid of my spongy, coarse crown.
I don’t know how many times a hair dresser has complained about having to deal with my hair. I have watched a stylist break into a sweat trying to work a jar of “super” relaxer through my roots and telling me, “girl you are putting me to work!” I began to hate my hair because of its difficulty to control. In retrospect it probably wasn’t anything more than hateration, and I have finally learned to appreciate my naps as they are virtually indestructible in their natural form. I also recognize a woman’s right to do whatever she needs to do to feel beautiful to herself. And though we as a community are making strides and embracing a broader definition of “fine”, I do wish the idea of Black beauty was more diverse.
“Good Hair”, with hilarious appearances by Ice-T, T-Pain, Nia Long, and Al Sharpton, (who opens up about how and why he dons his (in)famous roller set), among others, is interesting, intriguing informative and highly entertaining. There are parts where you will cry tears of laughter. Black women will see reflections of themselves as the common cultural experiences surrounding Black hair are examined and discussed honestly, empathetically and with Chris Rock’s intelligent brand of provocative wit. “Good Hair” is a good way to have a good time.
How do you feel about Black hair?