Last month, Netflix released a new film called Nappily Ever After, starring the beautiful Sanaa Lathan. The focus of the movie was on her character's relationship with her hair throughout the years. They show the humiliation she faced as a child after she jumped into a pool causing her hair to turn into a fro. They also showed the ideals her mother instilled in her about her hair as a child. We see how, as an adult, her mother still does her hair to ensure she’s always "presentable". Lathan’s character than goes through a breakup and after a drunken night out, she shaves her hair off. After the initial shock, this was liberating for her. She’d finally felt free of the restrictions she was tied to through her own hair and found the beauty in not having any.
After watching the movie, I realized a lot of black women have similar stories. There is a standard of what your hair is supposed to look like as black women. Many women feel pressured to conform to whatever standard is fed to us. The length, style, and/or color of our hair is usually based off whatever ideals we see. I remember growing up with all the women in my family always having their hair done. Whether it be for school, church, or family events, we’ve constantly been reminded that our hair should be done up the right way, because what our hair looks like represents who we are.
The main thing I loved about this movie was how relatable it was. Every black girl has gone through a significant transition with her hair. Whether it be breakage from heat damage or the big chop after years of relaxing, we’ve all had a reset moment with our hair. These changes can be intentional, at times, but they can also be involuntary and out of our hands.
For instance, when I was in high school, I started taking hair growth pills so my hair could grow longer and thicker. After about a year and a half of taking the pills, I noticed my hair was getting longer, but it was also getting thinner. This continued until I decided to stop taking the pills and stopped putting heat on my hair, all together. Ironically, once I stopped taking the pills my hair started thinning at an even quicker rate. It got to a point where half of my hair broke off and my hair was the shortest it had ever been. This was an after effect of no longer taking the hair pills.
The experience was horrifying being as my hair had never been in that state before. Thankfully, I began wearing clip-ins which helped me conceal the damage. Now, over two years later, my hair has grown back to its original length. And while I still wear clip-ins, I have a new found appreciation for my hair. Similar to Lathan's character, I realized that hair is only an accessory, therefore, we shouldn't feel so much pressure regarding it.
Hair can have so much control over how a woman feels about herself. In a society where we are expected to look our best 100% of the time, it's easy to fall into being self-conscious or insecure regarding our hair. The theme of Nappily Ever After was to spread the message that women shouldn't feel confined to their hair. We should feel free to try new things and be flexible with our looks. Why not dye your hair blonde or chop it into a pixie? After all, hair always grows back.