My Person of the Month who celebrated her 47th birthday on Wednesday starred in the long awaited film on Netflix “Nappily Ever After”. It’s been talked about across social media for months and first caught my attention when Sanaa posted a photo of herself with a completely shaven head.
The film documents the plight that most women of colour face (whether black or mixed) when it comes to hair in the work place, especially if you work in the corporate work place. Are plaits acceptable? Do weaves look real? Are wigs a little confusing, your hair was long and brown yesterday, today it’s in a bob with blonde highlights! And as for your natural hair, love the afro but I can’t see my computer screen! And then when your hair is natural and it starts to rain… oh the trials.
Sanaa Lathan broke the internet when she revealed her big chop last September. Lathan, who has dazzled the big screen since the late ‘90s, has rocked a number of styles throughout her career— but this moment was different.
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Lathan’s big reveal of her shaved head was a part of her role as Violet Jones in Nappily Ever After, which hit Netflix on 21st September. Shaving her head was a huge moment for both her character in the movie and real life.
“My hair journey up till now has really just been you know regular black girl hair journey, you know, just dealing with all the things that we deal with black women in this culture,” she told The Root.
“I knew in the back of my mind that that was the strongest choice to actually really shave my head but you know every other day I was like you know what we can just get a prosthetic wig cap,” she laughed. “But the more I kind of got into the character Violet, I realised I had to, if I was going to serve her as a character and serve this story, which I think is really important, especially at this moment in our culture. I had to do it.”
So, she did it. Lathan shaved her hair off in one take. The smiling, the crying, the feeling of “euphoria” as she describes it, witnessed in Nappily Ever After? Every bit of it was real… and it showed.
This movie resonated with me on so many levels…
Oh my goodness from the moment it started with the animation images, a young Violet (Sanaa Lathan’s character) with her mum and the pressing comb on the stove. The little girl standing on the side of the swimming pool debating whether to jump in…. memories came flooding back.
Checking on the weather to see if you should put an umbrella in your bag, is it gonna be heavy rain, light showers or hairspray rain??? Who cares, I just can’t afford to have this well pressed or flat ironed hair come into contact with any water or humidity and end up with a mini Afro that wasn’t the case when I left the house. As for the attitude of some staff in certain black hair salons(!) Not to mention that feeling of believing that you’re actually going to explode with the heat on your head under the dryer……. and I’m approaching Puberty Part 2 so my temperature is warmer than average anyway. “Get me to the rinsing station quick …. aaahhhh!”
Natural hair, straightened hair with the pressing comb/straighteners, the relaxer, the weave, and then shaving it (I haven’t reached that stage yet and I definitely wouldn’t take a men’s shaver to my head in a drunken stupor because he left me). Being mistaken for a cancer survivor opens Violets eyes as to the images and labels that are put on women because of their hair.
Being an Advertising Account Manager promoting beauty products she feels without hair she needs to change the products she promotes.
Her first advertising pitch (without hair) is knocked back for a pitch including images of the the type of woman she’s just turned away from. This film speaks to all women whether black or mixed, and definitely to Caucasian women who probably had no idea of the tasks that are involved in maintaining natural Afro hair and the time and expense involved with plaits, flat ironing, weaving and wearing wigs.
I really don’t wanna give too much away, the messages are there in full effect within a love relationship, a parental relationship (Violet’s mother actually faints when she sees her daughter’s bald head), and in the corporate work place.
There were some truly liberating and freeing scenes and oh how times have changed. Do you remember Bernie Mac in the Kings of Comedy joking about black women who won’t go swimming? “This shit gotta last” he jokes, but it was no joke! And there’s a scene from Nappily Ever After where women of all ages just jump in to a swimming pool and allow their hair to puff up, there’s also an elder woman who expresses that she hasn’t been in a swimming pool for 50 years because of the effects it has on her hair…… 50 years!!
I gasped at that scene, it took me back to school days and swimming lessons thinking “if my hair gets wet I’m gonna have hell this evening combing it out…… argh I just hate swimming”.
Now, however, it’s a different day, a different time, a different season. And whilst I used to wear weaves for fear of being judged for my kinky hair, especially as I work in the corporate field and there are very few people, much less women, who look like me, I now wear wigs because it’s a choice and boy do I enjoy the choices I have; burgundy wigs, brown wigs, honey blonde wigs, wigs with highlights, black wigs, short bobs, shoulder length and long. Side parting, middle parting and bang fringes. I wear plaits when I go on holiday and I dive into swimming pools with passion, yes I do. And this Summer when it was just too hot to wear wigs I let it all hang out and went natural and for natural variety clipped on a ponytail.
Violet says to her hairdresser in one scene as an Advertising Account Manager “I just reflect society in my work”
Will, her hairdresser replies “How about reflecting what society should be”. Huge, and FABULOUS statement.
I so embrace with passion EVERYTHING and ALL of the choices that the black hair movement presents, so the final boardroom scene was music to my ears, I literally shouted “Praise God, Hallelujah”.
Violet in her presentation states the following :
In the last couple of years there has been a huge cultural shift towards what’s natural and real. We’ve seen it in the growth of natural foods, the demand for eco-friendly cars, to just about any product you can imagine.
Will (the hairdresser) wants women to change the way we are thinking about our hair, he wants us to know that there is beauty in our natural hair, regardless of what type of hair we have and his product line “YOU” helps us bring out that natural beauty.
The CEO asks “Why would I push a product that totally undercuts what I’m already selling?”
Violet continues “Listen, women can wear weaves if they want to they can straighten their hair if they want to it’s a choice, there is nothing wrong with that. But we also need them to know that there is beauty in their natural hair. Large grocery store chains did not ignore the health food craze they integrated it and kept their customers. The shift has already begun with hair and women of colour are one of the biggest markets there when it comes to hair, let us be the 1st to offer them something that protects, rather than destroys their hair”
The final scene showcases Violet walking out of work with her natural hair as she passes weaves, wigs, long hair, short hair and coloured hair, all the choices of women of colour.