Hair in the Black community has always been controversial. Bad Hair. Good Hair. Weaves. Braids. Locs. Creamy Crack (as we affectionately call relaxers) each have their individual brand of controversy. But, when your hair determines whether you’re accepted by your peers or securing a high profile job promotion it becomes problematic at best.
My mother always told me, you get what you pay for. While attempting to put chemicals in my own hair instead of paying a professional, I paid the ultimate price of watching my hair swirl right down the bathtub drain. Or, how about that time I decided to twist my own Locs and twisted my edges right out of my scalp. Every woman of color has a horror story about a bad perm, a too tight weave or getting burned by a hot comb trying to get that hair silky smooth straight. Just this week, a young black child was informed by his school unless he chopped his Locs he would not be able to walk at graduation. Some states have even had to pass laws just for folks to wear their hair any way they see fit.
In Matthew A. Cherry’s animated short Hair Love, we watch a little girls hair come to life while giving her Dad a lesson in black hair styling. Justin Simien ‘s Bad Hair takes it to a whole new level mixing satire and horror with hair taking folk out to survive and grow. The female gaze and dialogue are on point thanks to Simien playing close attention to his Mom growing up.
As entertaining as the dialogue and performances are, the film is definitely not without its flaws. I’m not gonna lie though, it gave me nightmares thinking about my wigs or hair pieces trying to take me out in the middle of the night to ensure its own survival. I’m really not trying to have THAT be my reality on any given day. The manner in which Simien illustrates the amount of pain and discomfort Black women are willing to risk to just look sexy, be accepted or simply try something different is the #truth.
Bad Hair takes a look at the culture of hair and throws it out in the world for everyone to see and be better informed. Is this type of satire for everyone? No, it’s not. But, you gotta give it to Simien for placing it front and center knowing that it will begin a very much needed discussion on black hair, black culture and the incessant need to fit into a world that is not meant for you to be different.