I’ve been on a documentary kick lately. I love taking a peek inside someone else’s life and seeing what it’s like to live like they do. There are so many things out there that I am completely unaware of, but I like to try to enlighten myself to different ways of life as much as I can. Whether that’s through traveling to a different country, a different city, reading a blog or just popping in a DVD, there are all kinds of ways we can become more aware of others which will, in turn, make us more accepting of others–something I struggle with on a daily basis.
So, after I heard about Good Hair–a Chris Rock documentary about the lengths black women go to get the ‘perfect’ hair–I immediately put it on my Nexfix queue and eagerly awaited that little red envelope in my mail box. It came in over the weekend, but last night was the first chance I had to actually watch it. I was planning on posting about something different today, but after watching the film, I decided that I wanted to share my thoughts on it with all of you.
I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this movie. It was so eye opening and my jaw literally dropped at some of the topics. I won’t go in to everything because if I did, it would take you as long to read this post as it did for me to watch the film, but a few points really struck me. First, the black hair care is a 9 billion dollar industry. I was shocked to learn that human hair used for weaves is literally worth more than gold. The salons sell them for thousands of dollars per weave!! One salon owner actually let her clients put their weave on layaway. I can understand the desire to have thick luxurious hair, and I’m certainly not judging anyone who chooses to spend their money on that. Lord know’s I’ve spent my money on some crazy things in the past. I think what appalls me the most is how this human hair is being collected.
A good portion of the hair used in weaves comes from India. In the film, it talked about how hair is being stolen from women without their permission. Chris interviewed one Indian man in the industry and he said that they go out and cut the hair off of sleeping women, or sit behind someone in a theater and cut it off without their knowledge. And that’s not the worst of it. In India, people are expected to get their hair shaved every-so-often as a sacrifice to God. They believe long hair is a sign of vanity so they go to the temple to have it removed. Then, all the hair that is collected at the temple is being sewn into weaves and sold! These women are doing something out of faith and in the name of God, and they’re totally being taken advantage of. I just sincerely hope that this isn’t happening in secret and these people know what the temple is really doing with their hair. I suppose if this is common knowledge and the people sacrificing their hair don’t care, when why should I. I’m just not sure they do know.
The other thing that really struck me was the hair relaxer that women use in their hair. The main chemical in relaxer is sodium hydroxide and is a very powerful chemical. There was a scene in the film where Chris was talking to a chemist about sodium hydroxide. The chemist said that prolonged exposure to the chemical could cause serious burns and even the fumes would cause permanent damage to the eyes and lungs. He had three jars sitting on the table in front of him all filled with sodium hydroxide and all three had a soda can soaking in them. As he pulled them out one by one, it was amazing to see how quickly it was eating away at the aluminum. After only an hour, the entire can was dissolved. When Chris told the man that women were putting this on their hair to straighten it, he was shocked. Through the course of the interviews, Chris found out that this relaxer was being put on babies as young as 1!
There were so many interesting things in this movie and It really made me empathize with the struggle of the women who just want to feel beautiful. I think this situation is just like any other where society is telling us what is beautiful. I struggle with self esteem just as much as the next girl, but we somehow all need to find a way to be happy and love ourselves for exactly who we are, and not go to such drastic measures to fit in. If you have a chance, watch this film. You won’t be sorry.