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.