What I am Loving: Janelle Monae’s Style February 11, 2009
Halle Baldy February 8, 2009
I almost killed myself trying to find the remote to turn up the volume, when I heard that Halle Berry was going to shave her head bald for her role in the upcoming film Nappily Ever After. Although Halle won’t be wearing her hair for this role, she will be wearing two hats; that of an actress in the film and that of co-producer.
“It’s a movie called “Nappily Ever After” and it deals with this issue of women and their hair,” Berry explained in a recent interview. “As women we define ourselves by our hair. I always have my whole life. When my hair’s not right, then I’m just not right and many days I won’t leave the house if my hair is not right. I still struggle with this hair issue,” she remarked while pointing out that her character “is forced to look at what beauty is, and it comes from inside…I’m going to get the lesson on film, and hopefully other women will get it, too.We get so fixated on our hair and so this movie is about this woman whose hair gets damaged and she decides in a drunken stupor to shave her head completely bald.”
Based on the eponymic novel by Trisha Thomas, the movie promises to explore themes central to the lives of many women. Interestingly, Nappily Ever After is only the beginning of Venus Johnston’s hairstory. In Would I Lie to You, Trisha Thomas’ character moves across the country and leaves all that is familiar behind her. In Nappily Married, Venus is forced to reconsider her decision to cut her permed hair when she decides to take on a new job.
African-American advertising agency executive Venus Johnston has had enough. Enough of the painful, expensive hours spent relaxing her “good” hair and enough of her four-year relationship with medical intern Clint Fairchild, which has lasted too long without a ring. She shaves her hair to a quarter-inch stubble, tells Clint to pack his bags and spends the rest of Thomas’s empowering debut novel building a new life to match the new woman she’s become. Clint, on the rebound, meets beautiful, longhaired and marriage-ready Kandi Treboe and proposes on an impulse, despite evidence that he’s not over Venus. Meanwhile, Venus confronts issues of sexual harassment and racism in her predominantly white Washington, D.C., firm, where she begins to receive threatening notes. The crisis at work fuels Venus’s fears that she’s not strong enough to survive her new freedom. Has she made a mistake by abandoning the security of her boyfriend and her long, straight hair? Kandi develops into a complex character, with her own set of concerns and a sense of humor about the lovers’ triangle. Her perspective provides an interesting counterpoint to Venus’s obsession with the consuming culture surrounding black women’s hair. Clint’s confusion over his choice between the two women is treated honestly, and Venus’s discovery that she has moved to new psychological territory carries emotional weight. This exploration of an African-American woman’s journey to self-acceptance is not without flaws (spotty writing and loose ends tied up too fast), but Thomas refuses to let her characters slide into stereotype, and she keeps the pace fast and funny. -Publishers Weekly
What I am loving: Sasha and Malia’s natural hair January 30, 2009
Angela Jolie is Raising A Beautiful Daughter January 26, 2009
When it comes to Zahara Jolie-Pitt, many self-appointed cultural critics feel that they have a lot to say about the beautiful four year old daughter of actress Angelina Jolie. Among many blacks there is much conversation about Zahara’s hair and the fact that her mother is not, “doing anything about it.” However a recent comment in the Herald Sun suggests that Jolie is doing a lot more to affirm Zahara’s sense of self than many black mothers are doing for their own.
What do you think?
” …When it comes to the subject of adoption, like when my daughter, who’s African, wants her hair to look straight like mummy’s . . . and I look for a Barbie that’s African, and the African Barbie has straight hair! And you know, why has Disney never made a film with an African-American princess?”
Herald Sun; November 14, 2008
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.