I have another movie recommendation for you to watch on Netflix and that is Nappily Ever After.
It’s your basic chick-flick where your girl slowly falls in love with her hair. It has all of the clichés of having a professional job, being wealthy, and cute love interests with a few added bonuses. However, I bring up this movie as a starting point for a conversation: how important is your hair to you?
This movie brings up the cultural issue of black women’s hair and how it plays into issues of identity and race. The main character goes through many hair styles. She crafts her hair to appear a certain way that will state who she is in context. She wants to be perfect. She wants to be beautiful. She wants to be edgy. She wants to be free, and so she styles her hair accordingly. Her hair is connected to all of these things and symbolises (or at least attempts to symbolises) who she wants to be.
Now as a young white woman, my hair does not necessarily have the same associations of culture, identity and race. However, the idea of hair and identity resonated with me. It does make me think about how I have viewed my hair in the past and now.
My hair is associated with culture, whether I belong to a culture or I don’t belong to a culture.
My views on my appearance is heavily influenced by the cultures I have been surrounded with. Up till I was eight, I grew up in a mostly Hispanic community and was surrounded by girls who had beautiful long and dark hair. While they expressed a love for my sun-blenched blonde locks, I was envious of their dark hair. I wished to blend in and not stick out.
From the age of eight, I grew up in the UK where my community was more multi-cultural. From curly blondes to dead-straight brunettes, to afros to head-coverings, hair became a beautiful array of diverse colours and styles for me to appreciate and explore.
My hair reflects what I want to portray to the world. My hair shows everyone else who I am.
My hair not only reflects my culture but my individuality. I cut my hair short and then I let it grow out again.
Cutting off all of my hair makes me feel liberated, light, and free. It makes me feel independent and confident, and so by having short hair, I reflect those same feelings to the world. I am independent and confident.
Then I grow my hair out again, because I miss curling my hair, wearing ponytails, messy buns, tucking my hair behind my ear, and playing with my hair. As vain and ridiculous this is going to sound, longer hair makes me feel pretty and feminine. I like to embrace my femininity.
But of course, I am all of these things and not one or the other. With my current haircut (which is a classy messy French bob thank-you very much), I’m trying to aim for a middle ground.
My hair reflects changing seasons, the need to be a chameleon but also the need to stand out.
I like to change my hair to reflect the need for me to change. I like outward appearances to reflect what is going on the inside, a peek through the cocoon. I ask for a cut when I’ve come through a drastic change, when I make a big decision, when I want to stand out, when I want to be invisible, when I’m getting over a crush, and when I’m about to move.
It is a reminder of new possibilities. It is a reminder to keep moving forward. It is a reminder to continue and not inhibit growth. To remember that the season is a new one and to embrace it completely and not partially.
In many ways, this is what Nappily Ever After talks about in the format of a cheesy rom-com. How our hair is influenced by culture, by society, and by who we think we are. How our outward appearance can reflect the inward.
Our hair does not define us but reflects a definition of us. Which is probably why my hair changes ever so slightly constantly. There are so many ways of which we can define ourselves.