I am a little confused about and uncomfortable with the attention being devoted to Michelle Obama’s hair. While I have never followed the President’s family closely enough to be sure, I doubt that other first ladies have been so seriously scrutinized. There are a number of conversations in the blogosphere and on websites making claims about the first lady’s hair. Some think that she has lye free natural hair and others are arguing that her hair could not possibly look that way without a relaxer. Scariest of all, a sizable group of advertisements are popping up with the claim that smooth hair can be achieved without a relaxer. Actually that wasn’t the scariest thing of all. The really scary thing is that her “chemically relaxed” hair has been discussed in Chicago’s local news. The Philadelphia Inquirer insists that all black women have been focused on her hair more than anything else. No, we have not been listening to her wonderful speeches. Black women are only concerned with her “heavenly mane”. Apparently, all black women ” have been trying to get that hair nirvana – without chemicals.” Is this really what is most important to us? I promise, I am not making this up. Does that seem a little bit odd to you? Or is it me?
Chris Rock has good hair January 23, 2009
As a young comedian on tour in Atlanta in the 1990’s, Chris Rock had the wonderful fortune of touring the burgeoning black mecca at the same time as the Bronner brother’s hair show. While witnessing the myriad tributes to the unique characteristics of black hair as well as the business that has always been black hair, Rock thought that the hair show would be a great centerpiece for a documentary on blacks in America and their unique relationship to their hair. Unfortunately, Rock was ahead of his time: “ I thought, wow, this would make a great movie, but that was like 15 years ago.” Currently faced with the task of raising his young daughters in America, Rock realizes that this is the perfect time for his documentary “Good Hair”. At this year’s Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah, Rock’s film made its debut among 15 other films in the popular documentary competition.
Rock takes viewers on a journey from the neighborhood salon to the streets of India where human hair is manufactured for direct export to the scalps of black consumers. While the film does seem to cater to a specific segment of the population, “Good Hair” has enjoyed praise from everyone at the festival this year. Couched in Rock’s trademark humor, the film raises many important questions about the legacy of ‘mainstream’ (read white) and accepted beauty ideals and their impact on black women as many of them pursue a life-long and painful quest to emulate a hair type that is not their own. Rock’s film features many interviews from male and female African-American stars who candidly discuss their relationship with their hair and the loaded phrase ‘good hair’. As the executive producer of the film, Nelson George, points out, “It’s this whole thing about approval. That approval is not simply, `I want white people to love me.’ It’s like, `I need a job. I want to move forward, and if I have a hairstyle that is somewhat intimidating, that’s going to stop me from moving forward”. Having just returned from D.C. I share the sentiment of Nia Long, who hopes that the images of the first family will help blacks to be more accepting of themselves and their beauty. “Just seeing that family photo and seeing the daughters with their hair in cornrows sometimes, it resonates for me in such a huge way,” Long said. “I just feel finally we have an image that’s the most powerful image in our country that actually is a part of who I am.”
“Good Hair” will air on HBO, but Rock and his collaborators are considering a theatrical release first.