We might have made a lot of progress in this country, when it comes to hair politics and embracing natural hair, but anyone with naturally curly like myself, will be the first to tell you we still have a hell of long way to go. In fact, until this day, most of us curly haired Latinas still cringe when we hear the words “Pelo Malo” a.k.a bad hair, as they often bring back bad childhood memories. This is why despite how far we might have come, we absolutely need to continue having conversations around ethnic hair.
Sometimes one of the best ways to really understand a particular subject matter or at least get people talking, is by watching a film about it. You’d be surprised how many movies or documentaries you can find on natural/curly hair these days. Here’s a look at a few films that don’t just touch on natural hair but also tackle underlying issues of racism.
This 2014 independent film is set in Venezuela and follows a 9 year old boy named Junior, who has become obsessed with the idea of relaxing his naturally thick, curly hair straight. In the film, the young boy who like a majority of Venezuelans, has a mixed ancestry of African, indigenous and European descent, is convinced that he needs to have his hair straightened for picture day at his school in Caracas. It explores racial themes associated with mixed ancestry and curly hair along with issues of homophobia in Latin American culture. Stream on Amazon.
“The Big Chop”
You probably know Simone Missick for her Marvel character Misty Knight, but before that she did this HBO indie film written by Alisha Cowan and directed by Derek Dow II. The film follows a young woman named Kris, who’s learning to finally love and embrace her naturally coily, curly hair. Kris once loved her fro before society told her she needed to straighten it to be perceived as beautiful. After years of perming and using weave, she finally decides to give herself the “big chop” but it’s the moments following the cut that truly test her confidence and self-esteem. Stream on Amazon
“In Our Heads About Our Hair”
This doc explores the Eurocentric beauty standards placed on black women and WOC, and the controversial politics that surround Black hair even today. Stream on Cultureunplugged.com
Chris Rock’s well-known documentary not only touches on the issues surrounding Black hair but does it in a way that’s incredibly informative – like they literally show how relaxers can melt a soda can – and also conveys the important message in a humorous and amusing way. The line “If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy” gets me every time! Stream on Amazon
This empowering documentary follows a number of Black women’s stories on what inspired them to go natural and embrace their natural texture, how it impacted their self-esteem, and how it ultimately lead to self-love and confidence.