Netflix has women of color cheering and ready to tune in thanks to a new movie featuring Sanaa Lathan. Nappily Ever After will follow a black woman as she re-evaluates the relationship she has had with her hair for her entire life.
For some people, the idea that your hair could rule your life and literally change the way you interact with your world might seem silly. The number of "it's just hair" comments (predominantly from non-POC's - POC meaning people of color) that the trailer got is proof of that. But if you've grown up with hair that was considered "nappy," then you'll relate to what you see on screen. For ages, women of color - black girls, brown girls, afro-latinas, etc. who have kinky and coily hair have been almost forced to straighten it with chemicals and hot combs if they wanted to exist in society with minimal judgement.
If you think that's a thing of the past, you're not paying attention. Even our military places rules on hair that essentially ask women of color to not embrace their natural texture. The pressure doesn't just come from the outside world, either. Some of us had things said to us by our mothers and grandmothers like:
"It's just as easy to fall in love with a white man, that way your daughters will have good hair." (thanks for that one, abuelita.)
Literally yesterday, a close friend's mother told her that her daughter needed to get her hair done on the morning of her birthday party so that she wouldn't be "an embarrassment." Friend's daughter is turning six. Friend said no, she didn't want to force her daughter to sit through painful hot combs which would mean she couldn't play in the sprinklers or get sweaty on her birthday. Friend wanted her daughter to be able to play and enjoy her day, and a little girls natural hair texture is not an embarrassment.
Her mother got angry and hung up on her.