The smell, the burn … I will never forget the feeling on my scalp and the smell so strong as I sat in the hairdressing chair. 15 minutes goes by so slowly when you have a chemical on your head that produces a sensation of heat, tingling and burning. But it was worth the 15 minutes of pain because I knew that, ultimately, my hair would be smooth and beautiful.
Myself, and many of my friends who were also women of color, were still relaxing. I can not speak for all of them, but for me, I loved the feeling of doing my hair because it made me feel like I was “with” all my white friends. They had straight hair and always received praise for how beautiful and bright it was. Now that my hair was straight, I felt beautiful. My natural hair made me feel inadequate and I did not want anyone to see it.
The truth is that I thought that my natural hair was rebellious and ugly. Once I made the decision to stop relaxing because of the damage it was causing to my hair, the insecurities of wearing my hair were always present. I was caught in the challenging process of managing my hair daily; trying to figure out how to make my natural hair look as nice as my straight hair, but I did not feel as strong as I thought I would.
I went through many tests trying to discover what styles worked for me and spent copious amounts of money trying out every natural hair product I could find. Seven years later, I can say that my hair is benefiting from being natural. But the truth is that I still struggle to be happy with my hair sometimes.
Maintenance and maintenance can be exhausting at times. Very often, I find myself connecting my hair to identity, and when it does not look good enough, that must mean that I am not. I wonder if people will judge me when my hair looks bad. Or if I am considered unqualified or unprofessional when I use my hair with a specific style in formal environments. Do I give people a reason to use my hair as a justification for stereotypes about black women who are constantly penetrating society? I know that I am not the only person who has made this transition to natural hair that feels this way or has felt that this was at some point.
As I went down the rabbit hole and found everything negative about my hair while I was tamed it before going to bed, I saw an advance of a new movie that will be released on Netflix called Nappily Ever After, starring Sanaa Lathan. The title intrigued me and I kept looking, curious what it was. Lathan, who plays the role of Victoria Jones, is a black woman who strives to have control and be all that can be for everyone and keep a perfect person at work, for his friends and for his boyfriend. After having hopes that her boyfriend will propose, she realizes that everything collapses around her.
Once she realizes she can not do everything, she decides to cut her hair, the strands that grew for so long. As crazy as it sounds, she sees the power that has been given to trim her hair and become natural.
A barber full of soul helps a woman to rebuild her life after an accident in her beauty salon that makes her realize that she is not living life to the fullest. Initial launch: September 21, 2018 Director: Haifaa al-Mansour Based on: Nappily Ever After; by Trisha R. Thomas Production Company: Netflix Screenplay: Gina Prince-Bythewood, Tina Gordon Chism, Adam Brooks, Lisa Loomer