'stina (texaslawchick) wrote,

Streaming, flaxen, waxen

So Chris Rock's adorable little daughter asked him why she didn't have "good hair" and he went off to make a documentary about the struggles black women (and men in some cases) have with their hair. The efforts and expense they go through to make their hair anything but what it is are pretty extraordinary. Straighteners, relaxers, weaves, extensions, wigs, chemicals, braids, etc. The clip above makes the movie look pretty funny, but it's also a pretty damned interesting commentary about beauty standards.

I don't know how much the rest of the population knows about this little tiny arena in the beauty industry. I have a white friend who loves afros. She has a few afro wigs that she wears from time to time, she compliments anyone she sees sporting an afro, and at one point, she talked about making an afro-oriented art car. Her love for the 'fro always makes me a little uncomfortable, because I've always understood the afro to be a political statement as much as it is a hairstyle. On the one hand, I think it's awesome that she's so pro-natural beauty. On the other, I think she's a little oblivious in her effusiveness. But maybe that's a good thing.

I had a full head of thick, wavy, soft hair past my shoulders before I was a year old. Of all my struggles with my own body image, my hair (aside from some very unfortunate experiments with layers in the late 80s) has never been a personal concern. Right now, it's really long and full, and it's probably one of the first things people will note about me. I get it cut every now and then, and I don't spend much money on products or time on styling. I don't even color the grey out, though I'll occasionally throw some sun-in on to bring out natural high-lights. I briefly thought about getting cornrows or braids for Burning Man a few years back, because I'd heard it was easier to deal with long hair if it was out of the way, but the time commitment and expense put me off. I can't imagine worrying about my hair as much as the women in the clip above do. But I totally understand the concept of doing everything I can to look a particular way because that's the socially accepted norm.

I think most women do something or another that's sort of silly in an effort to conform to beauty standards. Watch weight, eliminate body hair, color or bleach hair, teeter on heels, etc. But I think Chris Rock is looking at an entire culture's attempt to conform in an expensive and painful way. And I think he's telling it in a way that's funny but also makes you think a little.

I hope it's a good flick.
Tags: 'stina, fashion, movies, women's issues
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