Monday, April 19, 2010

Good Hair

I had no idea. No idea that African-American women went to such lengths for beauty. Not even for beauty, but for normalcy.

Good Hair is a documentary co-produced and starring Chris Rock, a documentary which shows the extraordinary measures black women in our culture go to to achieve "good hair." "Bad hair" as defined by this movie is nappy, or natural, African hair. Apparently it's not desired.

Desired hair, or "good hair," is the white look. Straight. Glamorous. And women (and many men) are willing to put acid on their hair to straighten it regardless of the pain ("just a little more, just a little longer," said one man who described the process of pain with the product on his hair).

Those who can afford it opt for the weave, a rather expensive process where other women's hair is woven into their own; this option is less painful but far more time-consuming. There is a telling moment during the film when several people, real people, wonder out loud how some can afford it. The answer is: any way, any how. Looking good is more important than paying the rent.

The documentary makers don't make judgment. Chris Rock just looks amazed throughout. What bookends the movie is Rock's musings about what to tell his two girls when they get a little older about this process. As it turns out, there is no good answer.

I highly recommend this movie. Good Hair does a good job of showing the price that is paid for image. It's engrossing, it's funny, it's amazing. Thumb's up.


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