Before I analyze any other classic films in this series, I want to talk about some fairly newer movies. For this week it will be, Nappily Ever After. Nappily Ever After was released in 2018 on Netflix, which can still be viewed on Netflix today. It stars Sanaa Lathan as Violet Jones and documents her hair journey. Ever since she was little, her mother, played by Lynn Whitfield, drilled into her mind that she had to be perfect, and part of that image was straightened hair. Her straight hair was kempt, beautiful and put her closer to perfect than anything else. As anyone can imagine, trying to keep this image of perfection is stressful and after a meltdown, Violet shaves off all her hair.
This film is on my list because it is true to a Black experience. The Black woman’s experience, and most importantly our journey with our hair. Violet cuts off her hair out of rage and it takes her quite some time to embrace her new look. It is all about learning to love yourself in your natural form. The form that has been deemed unacceptable her whole life, and just like real life it is a roller coaster. Some days you might feel confident, other days you feel self-conscious.
This roller coaster of confidence and anxiety can be seen in Lathan’s character in the way that she acts with other characters. When she is comfortable with her hair she is more relaxed with others, and this is a true occurrence. When someone can feel comfortable with their appearance, they can lay back and careless of what they look like and care more about the people around them.
I also like how her hair is part of the character arc, but it is not the only focus. Violet not only has to convince herself that she is beautiful with her natural hair but in the process, she is learning about herself. For women, hair can be a dramatic change, and with the change, you always learn something new about yourself. For me, that lesson was: I am beautiful no matter if my hair is straight or natural.
This film is one that hits closer to home because Black women are constantly told that our hair is the most valuable thing about us. It is supposed to be long, straight, and “done” at all times. As long as our hair is not in its natural state it is okay. We are told that repeatedly by society and in our own homes.
Just like Violet’s mom, my mother made me think that I had to have my hair permed straight for it to be presentable. I did have some leeway with braids, but when it came time to take them out a perm was put in not long after. When I decided to go natural, I was berated with jokes and questions of when would I be getting my hair done. Because of that, I connect with the character Violet. I too had to overcome the distaste that people had for my hair, mostly family members. It was very hard in the beginning and I even hated my hair at some points, but now I am thankful for my 4c hair. Going natural makes a person look at themselves for who they are and allows them to fall in love with themselves as they are.
Nappily Ever After documents the natural hair journey, for better and for worse. I recommend anyone who is thinking about going natural, whether they are transitioning or doing the big chop, to watch this. It is very relatable and will make you have some newfound appreciation for your hair.