Good Hair-Really?

After watching the 2009 comedy/documentary Good Hair, I was left a little sad. In this movie actor and comedian Chris Rock seeks to find what the term”good hair” really means after his five year old daughter came home from school complaining that she didn’t have good hair.

The film focuses on African American women and the expense and effort they will go to in order to have the perfect hair.  An interview with a salon owner revealed that a good weave can cost $1,000 or more and that some women will pay to have their hair styled before the mortgage is paid. Other women admitted that they would not allow the men in their lives to touch their hair even during intimacy. Going for a swim was o.k. as long as they didn’t submerge their head.

Chris Rock interviewed a four year old who stated that she too wanted to have her hair relaxed in order to be pretty. For me this was particularly sad. Children aren’t born with low self-esteem or even know if someone is pretty or unattractive unless they are told by someone else, like a parent.

To straighten coarse hair, a chemical called sodium hydroxide (lye) is left on the hair shaft for a certain length of time but not long enough to burn or blister the skin. I can’t imagine applying  this to the head of a child. As shown in this documentary, this harsh chemical will eat through an aluminum can in sixty minutes and totally disintegrate the can after four hours.

Good Hair was eye-opening for me in some ways. I can see in my daily life that society has become more accepting of others’ differences  but we still have a long way to go. No one should have to  make such unreasonable choices in order to feel good about themselves.

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3 Responses to Good Hair-Really?

  1. dcoleman03 says:

    sodium hydroxide AKA. relaxer/perm can indeed burn the scalp and is considered very painful and dreadful in the eyes of several African American women. Yes, it is very eye opening and shocking to hear that people spend thousands of dollars to possibly burn their scalp and also risk harming small children. You stated that people make” unreasonable choices in order to feel good about themselves” and in your opinion what do you believe makes them unreasonable? Is it the harmful chemical, the price of the outcome or a combination? Would your opinion change if the client only paid $7.99 for the product because if relaxer/perm is purchased at a retail store that price, possibly a few dollars cheaper or more expensive is all it would cost to have the same outcome. For many women a relaxer/perm isn’t just to make themselves feel good about themselves it is just a desired look for fashion/style.
    You made a good point, children aren’t born with low self esteem, but according to our text, children begin to classify people at an early age, some as early as 3 years old, possibly sooner. Childrens parents don’t have to teach them directly, children can learn through socialization and experiences throughout the environment.

    • says:

      From my perspective, the point of the movie was to get a sampling of opinions as to what “good hair” really means. We all want to look good and “fit in” but at what cost? Why do some of us care what others think? My statement “make unreasonable choices to feel good about themselves” has less to do with the hair treatment, weaves and extensions included, than the need to have them in some cases.

      Many people use various chemicals in the name of beauty- hair color, hair remover for example, but if we are spending large sums of money slated for house hold expenses then I see this as an unreasonable choice. Making purchases from a retail store makes more sense to me.

      I do not judge people for having their desired hair style, we are all unique. My desire is to see more people feeling comfortable in their own skin (and hair) and worrying less about the judging eyes of others.

  2. tehref says:

    I agree that the Relaxer is very dangerous but the people using it find this a necessary risk for beauty and style. However I find it absurd how the clients will buy a $1,000 weave (maybe less and maybe more) before they pay their mortgage. I think our value system is a little skewed and less focus should be put on looks and more should be put on food and shelter. If you have the money to spend then thats completely fine. I also dont believe children should be put through that due to the repercussions that is may and will have, Children are still developing at 3 and 4 and even past their teen years. I think it should be put a stop to in children under a certain age due to child endangerment laws.

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