I am looking forward to the theatre release of this comic documentary Good Hair about black folks’ obsession with ‘good’ hair. Chris Rock’s drive to start this project came when his daughter asked him why she didn’t have good hair. My best friend feels that “most people don’t think about [hair] in terms [of self-hate] as much these days. It’s almost viewed as good grooming, particularly for Black women…like brushing one’s teeth.” I want to expand the discussion to include black men as well because we too process our “nappy” hair. So for me honestly, it is not about self-hate it is mostly about good grooming and appeal.
Growing up, I always thought (and still believe) that long flowing hair was (and is) very beautiful. All the women that I think are beautiful have long flowing hair Ananda Lewis, Rozonda Thomas, and Nicole Scherzinger. Even when I think of men, I have a thing for wavy hair over the ‘nappy’ fro, dreadlocks or worse the cornrows (I hate cornrows on men). These so-called ‘natural’ hairstyles are not inherently bad, but they do limit drastically one’s ability to navigate in different spaces.
Starting at minute 2:04, we see the hair concerns of a mother and daughter. To be honest, I think the mom in the clip being “ashamed” of or having to “adjust” to her daughter’s ‘natural look’ is perfectly legitimate. I can definitely relate to what the mom is going through. My current love interest has naturally wavy hair and when he cuts it off he looks less attractive and is less alluring to me. Not that he becomes ugly, but there is a noticeable decline in attraction when his hair is cut very low.
I agree with the audience member in the clip at minute 5:02 that the mother’s extreme dislike might be generational, and the real fear of depleting one’s social capital, but I would also add it is about preferences. I think a lot of my preferences with hair deals with my own social capital and how my partner should compliment my aims and trajectory. My mentors and I often talk about how as business men and women grooming and hair styles matter and that those rules do extend to people you bring to company functions. I think we have to get out of the habit of telling people that if you like girls or men with “good hair” that it is self-hate. There has to be room in our conversation to acknowledge that it is ok to like what you like and to pursue it as fervently as an individual desires.
I pose my best friend’s question: “Is it a sign of self-hate for us to process our textured/excessively curly/”tight”/”kinky”/”nappy”/”bad” hair?” My answer is: No, not usually.
I leave you with one of those warm clips that makes me laugh.
School Daze: Good or Bad Hair