After seeing Chris Rock's "Good Hair", I am overwhelmed with mixed emotions. A little offended by the unexpected truth, but it is what it is...
The documentary is based on the upkeep of the African American mane. I gasped during many shocking revelations throughout the film, partly embarrassed and somewhat ashamed of the value we (African American women) place on something so simple, yet so complex: hair.
The most angering assumption is that black women get relaxers to look more like white women. Although I can only speak for myself in this case, I can safely say that the majority of black women will expel that claim. I got my first relaxer before I turned 10 years old and it wasn't because I wanted to look more like the little white girls. My mom gave me a "kiddie perm" because, like most little black girls, my hair was too nappy to comb.
My reasoning for getting relaxers now, besides the fact that my hair is now addicted to the chemicals, is because it makes my hair a whole lot easier to manage. It's no secret that relaxers can in fact damage one's hair, but once you go crack you can never go back. Nicknamed "creamy crack" for obvious reasons, the formula, for some, is much needed. Ironically, though I got my first relaxer before I got my period, I don't recommend nor do I condone little girls getting relaxers before they enter high school. Nor do I respect a male who chooses to rock relaxed hair like it's manly. But that's a different story...
Weave = the second aspect of the film that opened my eyes to the ugly truth. Surprisingly, it has been a year since I've worn "fake" hair. I got my first weave shortly after I got my first relaxer, for the same reason. Weave is a black woman's best friend. Sad, but true. Every black woman will or already has gone through the experience of bonding, tracking, braiding or netting (Google for explanations of each). However, if we all knew where the "fake" hair that we choose to wear actually comes from, the weave franchise probably wouldn't be as successful as it is.
In the movie, Chris Rock highlights the origin, showing Indian women being shaved bald and donating their hair for religious purposes... only to have American women flaunt it religiously. Crazy ain't it? Some women will pay thousands of dollars for someone else's hair. That's a major problem. The most I've ever paid for a hairdo is $150 and I considered that to be way too much. In hindsight, we as black women are popularizing and exploiting a product that we don't even own. However, when it comes to white women and weave, it's not considered that big of a deal. Maybe it's because their fake flaunting, labeled as extensions, is never obvious... but I digress.
"Good Hair" was very informative, but at times it seemed as if Rock was mocking the black woman... as if it's wrong to place such value on hair when behind it is where beauty lies for some women. Or making a joke of black men not being able to touch it. Damn right! Especially if I just spent eight hours at the salon suffering from relaxer burns and toasting under the dryer just to get that perfect look.
All joking aside, hair is hair. And what one chooses to do with it is his or her own choice. Freedom of bleach!