Black women ask, ‘What exactly is Good Hair?’

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In his latest film, Chris Rock tries to get to the root of why so many African-American women spend countless hours, thousands of dollars, and take serious risks — all in the pursuit of ‘good hair’.

TheGrio sat down with a group of black women, after they watched “Good Hair,” for a candid discussion about hair, image and the message behind the film.

Lisa Cortes, an independent filmmaker said, “When I saw ‘Good Hair,’ I thought of all those Saturdays that I spent at the beauty parlor. And all the wonderful women that I met while I was there.”

New York native Chris Rock traveled across the nation, to barbershops and beauty salons and discovered that for black women, hair is about much more than just an expression of style.

For Nikita Wilson, the film reminded her of the battles she faced trying to assert her independence through style.

“I struggled with you know, I want to take my wig off, but how am I going to be received? Am I going to be taken seriously? Am I going to be respected? And then it came down to, well, if this is my natural hair, growing out of my head, why should I alter its natural state to please anybody else?” said Wilson.

Shatara Curry, who prides herself on bringing a smile to others as a stand-up comedian, said of her childhood years that her hair often made her feel like the butt of the jokes.

“I remember feeling like I had bad hair because I was going to school with mainly white girls and they would make me feel like I was the only black girl simply because I was a mystery to them. You know, ‘why doesn’t your hair move? Why is it so greasy?’” she said.

Rock takes his audience on a whirlwind ride, to provide an education about the business of black hair. Through visits to a hair show in Atlanta, to a hair sacrifice ceremony in India, Rock proves black hair is big business.

It’s a sentiment echoed by the ladies who watched the documentary. Singer and songwriter,
Melky Jean admitted, “I was one of those girls who spent $2,500 at Extension Plus, going in through the back door. That was me in L.A you know.”

“Good Hair” takes a comedic look at a daunting chase for perfection and along the way shows there are many definitions of beauty.

Lisa Cortes who’s upcoming film, “Precious,” scheduled for release next month, tells the story of a young African-American girl who’s faced ridicule and abuse much of her life, reminded the group that despite one’s appearance, what black women have to offer from within is more powerful and beautiful.

“You have to savor the flavor of who you are and put that forth,” she said. “Look at this group, none of us look alike, but we’re all of the same spirit.”

Edited by Jessica Shim