Nappily Ever After Movie Review: Finding Your “Niche” in the Norms Against Natural

The maintenance of a young black girl’s hair has never been easy. Not for her mother, her natural texture, and certainly not to that young black girl’s self-esteem. Society has ingrained Eurocentric standards of beauty that enforce unwritten rules of upkeep and regular grooming; particularly among the black community. Nappily Ever After illuminates a beautiful growth in self-acceptance and self-love for the main character Violet Jones, played by Sanaa Lathan. Her need for perfection in marrying her doctor boyfriend of two years, Clint, and upholding appearance consumes her, leaving her with no choice but to BREAK FREE.

 

Photo Courtesy of IMDb

 

Violet’s journey began as a young girl who wanted to be as wild and free as all kids were at her young age. Violet’s mother, Pauletta Jones (played by Lynn Whitfield), limited her participation in high-energy activities because she wanted Violet to preserve her pristine looks. Her mother always made sure her hair was silky straight with no tangles at all times. This routine of hot combs and hair styling did not go away when Violet got older. Even as a fully-grown woman, Violet’s mother always did her hair. This control that was imposed on Violet by her mother soon became all that Violet knew. She let her fear of flaws swallow her identity. In her relationship with Clint, which soon ended after a non-existent marriage proposal, she was not herself. Violet became everything that her mother told her to be, a result of society telling black women like Violet’s mother who to be. The cycle ceased once Violet decided to let go and shaved off all her hair on an intoxicated whim. Although Violet’s big chop was the latter result of a ruined weave and bleach blonde dye job, it was pending.

 

Photo Courtesy of Bustle

 

The shedding of Violet’s hair growth made room for new growth in her life. After befriending the owner of the hair salon that triggered her weave mishap, Will Wright, and his daughter, Zoe, Violet felt as if her natural self was enough and that her bold bald head wasn’t a bad idea. Over the course of the film, Violet’s hair grows in a beautiful TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) and her mentality changed drastically. She was embracing her natural beauty and a new love in her life. However, as us ladies know all too well, when things start going great in our lives and we begin to prosper, old flames love to creep back into our lives; hindering our personal progress. That being said, Clint realizes what he is missing after seeing Violet in her new do and proposes. Violet accepts the proposal, to only rescind it later, when she realizes that Clint has not changed and still wants her to change. In realizing her strength and sexy, Violet returns to the man who would not change a hair on her head.

 

Photo Courtesy of Bustle

 

I cried twice while watching this film because I related to Violet so much. As a young black girl, I had naturally curly hair and once I turned ten, I began to straighten it at my local Dominican hair salon consistently. The damage from excessive heat and self-consciousness of my appearance continued all the way through high school. I tried to branch out by trying braids and other protective styles, but I was still feeling limited by my hair. I was attached to the length, luxurious, and the lie that beauty only looked this way. Once I came to Howard, I had several personal revelations. My hair was one of them. I realized that my hair did not define me, my life, my choices, or my experiences. After cutting off my natural hair and ruining it with a relaxer in December 2017, I decided to just shave it all off and start anew in February 2018. It has been the best decision I ever made with my hair. Similar to Violet, I learned to love myself for what I was born and blessed with after my big chop. I have no regrets.

 

Hair is not something to be attached to. There are plenty of other things that can define who you are. In the end, you have to find out what works for you. Do you enjoy your naturally curly hair or are you into the sleek, straight look? It is all up to you. The most important thing is that you embrace who you are and love yourself at EVERY STAGE. Also, if you are a recently “big chopped baddie”, do not be ashamed of your shimmering scalp, YOU DO NOT NEED HAIR TO BE BEAUTIFUL. Once you are able to find your niche amongst the nightmare of norms that plague our society, life will be much easier.