Good 'Hair?' Hardly. How Chris Rock gets it wrong

Good-Hair_lChris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair, opened Friday to mixed, but frequently positive, reviews. I’m going to take the painful stance of suggesting that’s because there aren’t a lot of black women in the film reviewing community. Good Hair is often funny, fascinating, and raises a few key ideas. What it doesn’t do is offer a cogent, relevant analysis of why black women relax their hair or wear hair extensions — which was supposed to have been the point.

Some background: Rock says he did the film because his daughter came to him one day, upset, that she didn’t have “good hair.” This apparently prompted the comedian to begin an odyssey that took him from the hair salons of New York City to a hair show in Atlanta, from Indian hair-shaving ceremonies, to the Beverly Hills salons that buy the Indian hair. But in all that conversation what you never hear are opposing viewpoints. Nearly everyone in Chris Rock’s movie seems to agree on a few critical ideas (that can happen when you limit your sample). Frankly, as a black woman, I sat through Good Hair with one dominant thought: Who are these people? Their opinions rarely represented my own, or those of anyone I know. I am but one voice in this vast, complicated community, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t say something. Here, a few of the ways Good Hair gets it entirely wrong.

1. Black women do not want to be white.
Sure, you can find some poor soul who pops up on Oprah with deep-seated issues, but for the most part, black women are perfectly happy being black women. A brief history: The idea of “good hair” is one that, historically, has been fraught with racial stigma. For various reasons, black people who looked whiter, like their slave masters (read: frequently, their fathers) had advantages over those who looked more like their African ancestors. The preference didn’t die after slavery, however, in one sense surviving as the debate over “good hair.” “Good hair” was that which was easy to comb, long, and silky.

Like many cultural idiosyncrasies, the notion of “good hair” never died completely, but there isn’t anyone in the black community today who doesn’t see the term as dated, self-loathing, and patently foolish. There isn’t a black woman I know who sits down in a stylist’s chair to get a relaxer because she, as Rock posits, wants to look white. Not one. I have a relaxer. I have one for the same reason that I don’t wear makeup, don’t have a gym membership, and can usually be found in jeans and a Gap tee—I’m lazy. I like getting out of the house in a reasonable amount of time, and don’t cope well with a lot of hassle over what I consider superficial things. So why bother fighting my naturally nappy hair on a daily basis when every 8-10 weeks I can pay someone else to do it? Which brings me to my second point…

2. $1000 at the salon? Get real.
The actresses and singers in Good Hair freely admit to spending a fortune on their hair, which was expected. Wildly unusual was the handful of working-class women willing to pony up a cool grand to get a weave. Again, who are these women? The cost of relaxer varies widely, from, say, $50-$200, depending on what zip code you’re in, and weaves go up significantly from there. But no one in the working class (in their right mind) spends rent on their hair. Anyone who does has way bigger issues than what’s growing out of her head.

3. We don’t all have weaves or relaxers.
As I mentioned, I have a relaxer, but I have several friends and family members who don’t. And for every 10 black women I know, maybe two have weaves. It’s a common hair-maintenance style, but it certainly doesn’t extend to everyone. So before you assume you know what’s going on with a black woman’s hair, understand that we’re as diverse and varied with our style options as everyone else.

4. All this is none of your business.
Unless you’re really good friends with someone, it’s rude to ask what’s in their hair, whether relaxer or weave. We’re not anthropological subjects, and we don’t like being treated as curiosities.

5. White women do it, too.
Approximately 94 minutes of Good Hair is spent exploring ideas of why black women relax their hair (so damaging!) or wear weaves (so delusional!). There’s exactly one minute spent on the fact that white women do it too. White women frequently chemically treat their hair to make it straighter or curlier, and dye it so regularly they don’t even know their natural color. Does this make them culturally insecure? Hardly. Those “extensions” that lots of white women in Hollywood (and elsewhere) sport? They’re the same as weaves. Some may be clipped  on or glued in, but as anyone who’s ever watched the make-over episodes of America’s Next Top Model knows, white women wear hair enhancements too. Which brings me to another point…

6. Women of nearly every culture want long, thick, luxurious hair.
For every black woman who’s ever wanted to look like Beyoncé, there’s a white woman who desperately wanted hair like Farrah. Long, fabulous tresses seems to be an ideal in many, many cultures, and black women shouldn’t be criticized, ostracized, or psychoanalyzed for wanting the same thing.

7. The whole idea of “good hair” is pretty moot these days.
If “good hair” is that which is silky and manageable, what’s the difference if you’re born with it or your hair dresser gets you there? In its natural state, my hair is kinky and difficult to comb. With a relaxer it’s long and holds curls pretty nicely. So do I have “good hair,” or not? Here’s the fabulous, freeing, culturally uncomplicated answer: I don’t care.

Look, I’m not saying that Good Hair has no purpose. The film introduces a conversation that’s so important, it reached the White House. (Check out the viciously racist commentary on Malia Obama’s twists, or the New Yorker cover with Michelle Obama in an afro and tell me black women’s hair isn’t a political issue.) But there’s rampant misinformation and theories that just don’t hold up. And no one ever seems to really address the cultural roots of Rock’s daughter’s question.

Neither the director nor any of the writers on Good Hair are women. It’s no surprise that a group of fellas got together and came up with a film that, while well-intentioned, just doesn’t get it. But tell me what you think, PopWatchers? Will you see the movie? Have some stories of your own you want to share?

UPDATE: I love the debate here, and please keep it coming! I just want to point out (since a lot of people are addressing it) that I have absolutely no problem with natural hairstyles. I don’t think of the word “nappy” as pejorative (as some people apparently do), and I don’t associate any negativity with natural hair or natural hairstyles. (There is, in fact, an actress in the movie whose natural hair I’d love to have.) I simply said that MY natural hair is difficult to manage. I don’t begin to suppose that everyone’s is. My whole point is that people should be free to do whatever they want with their hair, without feeling like it has some grander cultural or political point. Cut it, curl it, dye it blue. As my mother always tells me, “Do you.”

Comments (398 total) Add your comment
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  • Ben

    Oh brother.

    • Jen


      • AD

        How can you “ditto” something that doesn’t make any sense? What does “Oh, Brother” mean anyway?
        I can tell you why I am typing “Oh, Brother” right now. You two are dolts.

      • beans

        Seriously, that “comment” doesn’t even make sense!

      • Judith Light

        don’t you get it? people on EW message board’s “agree” with their own comments. The agreeing person is the same person as the original one. I know it’s lame, but it’s done all the time.

    • gerritv

      Don’t you mean, ‘Oh sister’?

      • Nick T

        That was funny, gerritv. BTW, I may be a guy, but I’m black and I have to say everything in her article is exactly right EXCEPT number 7. I always tell girls or guys they have good hair if they do. I kind of do. It doesn’t bead up or get too nappy. And it would be okay if it did. But I think some black people’s hair is easier to take care of than others.

    • B


      • Tim

        OK, everyone preceding this comment? You are all morons.

    • tanya

      when it comes to the point good hair bad hair i feel this way. I always brother me to think that we make our children,our young girls feel like if they don’t relacks their hair somehow, their not beautifull,or that they are not attractive. I am a black women and my hair is very fine grade,and I personaly wish that it was more nappier to me i could manage it more. My black women we are beautifull in our own right, be our hair nappy or fine.

      • English

        The first thing you need to do is teach your children the English language. Then move on to your hair issues. I mean, are you a redneck plant?

    • J Brown

      Ironically, my friend’s documentary addressing some of the comments you made from the psychological stand point regarding chemically or otherwise manipulating black hair to change the texture, premiered Thursday before Rock’s movie at Southern University. Check out if you are interested. The documentary was great, but the dialogue that followed was extraordinarily powerful.

    • dee

      One thing’s certain; women are never happy with what they have. Women with curly hair want straight hair, women with straight hair want curly hair. I grew up watching my sister and her friends go through this insanity every few months. Sis would put her straight hair up in curlers, then cry when the curl wouldn’t hold. Other girls would get out the flat iron and iron their hair straight, then go nuts when the curl came back. Women are NEVER happy.

  • Gretchen

    I’m white and had to have my hair relaxed when I was 14 4 different times over 2 years to get it to grow down…it would grow out. Now, it grows down, but is still super curly

  • Fatima

    I’m more than likely going to agree with everything stated here, but I am still curious to see the movie. When it opens in MN, I’m going with friends. I think you’re right that hair is a lot more significant than many realize, but Chris Rock probably isn’t the one to tackle it. Thanks for such an intelligent and well written piece!

  • Sina

    Thank you for this blog. I too have a perm even though I have been termed with having “good hair”. The reason I have a perm and the reason I don’t wear makeup is just as you stated, I’m lazy. The only time I do my hair is when I go to the salon otherwise it’s in a ponytail or I just wear it down. It’s easier to managed. Although I do know some stupid women who are working class who spends way too much money on weaves. Also I love the point you bring out about white women. They also get perms and weaves. A lot of my white friends get weaves. Now why do they do that? Is it because they want to look white? NO. That’s why now that whole point of perms and weaves is a moot point since EVERYONE is getting them. Also the reason Chris Rock started this is because his daughter was sitting in his car with her white friend and she thought her white friend had good hair and she wanted her hair like hers. That’s a personal problem between Chris and his family. What his daughter said didn’t represent Black women as a whole. He should start having his kids around other Black kids more and maybe they will see other kids who look like them with the same kind of hair. When you isolate your kids and they are only around one race, they start to think that what they see around them is the norm so of course Chris’ daughter is going to think her friend has good hair.

    • gigi

      Nicely put!!

    • LoveTV

      Very well said!!

    • Meli

      I would have to disagree with you when you make the comment, “Also the reason Chris Rock started this is because his daughter was sitting in his car with her white friend and she thought her white friend had good hair and she wanted her hair like hers. That’s a personal problem between Chris and his family. What his daughter said didn’t represent Black women as a whole. He should start having his kids around other Black kids more and maybe they will see other kids who look like them with the same kind of hair.” I am a 25 year old African-American female, who grew up around other African Americans. While I definitely saw other girls with hair like mine, that didn’t make it any easier growing up, trying not to compare ourselves to our white counterparts. We were (and are) constantly bombarded with messages that long, flowing, silky hair is better than our own natural, kinky hair.

    • thank you

      I agree w/ you 100%-didn’t even cross my mind that he’s probably got his kids in exclusive schools where most of the kids are white so his daughter’s perception of herself is problematic.

      Let’s not forget weight issue (yes being fat) is just as bad, if not worse for white women just like black women’s hair issues.

      Trust, the weight issue for white women is huge just like the hair issue for black women. if a white man had to decide which woman was the “hottest” in a lineup of women, I can bet regardless of their race it would be the skinniest one. IIf you are a size zero, you are “h-o-t” according to white men, I know been there done that.

      So what, black women have hair straightening issues and our hair is nappy, soo?!?! white women have weight issues or lack of muscle tone which is why they have to work hard (much harder than they let on) at staying thin; muscle burns fat. so friggin what!?!?! you don’t see comedians like robin williams or billy crystal making a movie called “skinny b!tch@s: the achilles heel of every white women”, so chris rock can go suck on it as he is full of himself to think that black people are the only one’s with issues (you’d think he knew that considering the fact that he got bussed out to a white school everyday growing up).

      Take time to reflect and say “hey, wait a minute, I’m noticing that other people have issues as well…I’m not the only one here with a problem here..I straighten my hair and white women read the nutritional fact chart on everything they eat…sooooo-what!”

      move on, everyone has problems and putting your problems on blast does not drown out everyone else’s. it just makes you look self-absorbed (end of rant)….

      • steve

        the thing about white guys picking the skinniest girl out of a line-up is completely ridiculous. Men like T&A, not skin & bones. It’s other [white] women and maybe gay male-dominated world of high fashion that glorify the 90lb woman.

        also, on the surface, i don’t see this as being a black/white thing at least aesthetically. the “good hair” standard is naturally achieved by pretty much every racial group EXCEPT white Europeans and black Africans.

    • again

      Obviously you are a women who put a “man’s” name on your comment as no straight man would be able to identify what gay men and women think.

      Being thin is a status symbol for white men and women alike regardless of whether or not the body type is desired. White women don’t aspire to be thin because other white women pay their bills, they want to be thin because that’s what white men prefer. Show me an overweight white chick on a billonaire’s arm and I’ll show you bacon flying in the air. It’s harsh but it proves that all women put with some sort of crap behind their looks with men-not just black women. Point blank.


    Alynda, your BIAS is showing. I’m sorry but as soon as I skimmed to the part where you wrote that your hair is only manageable with a relaxer, I had to stop reading.

    Oh brother is right. You’re offended at this movie because it makes fun of women like yourself, who are slaves to a blasted chemical.

    P.S. My HAIR is more manageable now than it EVER was relaxed.

    • Sina

      But you have had it relaxed at one point.
      You may find YOUR hair more manageable without a relaxer, but people like me find my hair more manageable relaxed. When I workout, I sweat my hair out a lot and until I got my relaxer (2 years ago) it was very hard for me to manage. I don’t feel like spending 2 hrs a day doing my hair. If I want to wear it down, I can just comb it down and it’s done. A relaxer is easier for me since I never did my hair growing up. As soon as I got too big for my mother to do my hair, I went to a salon.

      • I don’t get it

        What I don’t get, is if people are so lazy, why do they take the time to go to the salon? If they don’t care what their hair looks like, why don’t they just leave it the way it is naturally? I think the point Chris might be trying to make (haven’t seen the movie, but I did see him on Tyra) is that there are women aren’t comfortable with the way their hair looks naturally, so some spend 2 hours a day doing their hair and some get a relaxer–what I’m hearing here is there are only two options for those with ‘unmanageable hair': spend a long time doing your hair everyday, or get a relaxer, when really there is a third, and that’s doing nothing at all. If one really doesn’t care, why does hair have to be manageable?

      • Moi

        So, if I understand you, I am supposed to wake up in the morning, shake my head, and go to work without combing my hair? While I’m at it, I think I’ll quit using lotions, deodorants and perfumes too, since anything other than ‘au natural’ means that I am insecure. Duh!

      • Sina

        That’s not what I was saying, I don’t get it.
        It’s easier for me to be able to get up, comb my hair and just go. It’s just easier for me with a relaxer. I don’t know about “unmanageable” hair. I didn’t have a relaxer growing up and it wasn’t until 2 years ago I got one. My hair kept sweating out and I was just too busy. There is no third option for me. I like to have my hair combed. Also who said one didn’t care. Being lazy doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t care. I just don’t feel like spending a lot of time doing my hair.

      • kendra


        Women of other ethnicites grow their natural hair and feel it’s too straight… so you know what they do… they PERM IT WITH CURLY PERMS!!!OMG. Women with curly hair HATE IT so they RELAX IT!! WHITE WOMEN ALL WOMEN! GET OVER IT LADIES???
        IM WHITE- I was born with dark curly hair. It is now platinun blond with highlights and permanently straightend. I also dye my eyebrows blond. I have had a boob job, a nose job, and botox on the reg. THIS IS NORMAL IN THE “WHITE” COMMUNITY!!!




        I have YET to spend two hours doing my hair. I’ve had the cutest hairstyles, and they have not taken two hours, and I have not spent whole hours in salons either.

        If it takes you two hours, sister, you’re doing it wrong. It’s really not your hair. Stop using white womens’ hair as a standard.

      • Sina

        Honey, I just got a perm two years ago when I started a new career and I just got too busy. What is white women’s hair as standard? I don’t get that phase. Sorry but I never see white women hair as standard and the way I do my hair is not what you would call white women standard. I was never a person good with hair so yeah it takes ME like 2 hrs to do it. But that’s me! I’m not good at styling hair, that’s why I go to salons and that’s why I got a relaxer to make it easier for me in my day to day activites. Just because it doesn’t take you two hours doesn’t mean it doesn’t take me. I don’t know if you realize this but we are two different people. What works for you doesn’t work for me. Maybe that’s a concept you never heard of.

    • gigi

      I don’t think Alynda was biased at all. Underneath my tracks my hair is all natrual. I choose to wear a weave because like Alynda and Sina…I’m lazy when it comes to my hair. I don’t have to worry about chemicals, hot combs, curling irons, or the humidity. I get up brush my 1B/27 and go. It’s not about vanity, but convenience. (IMO.

    • Mo

      This debate is like saying “who’s more Black” and then trying to intelligently argue it. If she wants a relaxer, then so be it. And if you don’t, then so be it. I am so tired of having to “justify” hair, clothes, etc because I’m Black. This is exactly the reason intelligent debate cannot be had from differing viewpoints in our community (at times). Get off it…and do you, like the author suggested.

      • drama17

        Wow I completely agree. I am so sick of this “are you black enough” debate. What is that anyway? Is there a quota that girls and women have to meet to be black enough that I’m just not aware of? This divide in the black community is ridiculous. Be yourself, embrace yourself, and never be ashamed.

    • Femme Noire

      If by “manageable” you mean easy to comb, my hair was much more manageable when I relaxed it. But it’s much more healthy now that I’m wearing it naturally. It’s very attractive, and it’s different.

    • T


    • steph

      thank you, the only voice of reason

    • Ambur Fork

      I understand what you’re saying. I used to feel the same way. However I wish you finished reading the article because there are other things that are not correct in the movie. We don’t spend a huge amount on our hair like 1000 dollars. I also think more women like you that wear their hair natural should have been represented in the movie.

  • cranky

    What a well-written piece. As a white woman, I can’t comment on the veracity of Rock’s film, but I agree that women’s obsession with hair is cross-cultural. My daughter has beautiful naturally curly hair, and told me the other day she told me she wants it straightened. She is four. I got poodle perms in the ’80s because I hated my straight hair. Women and girls have always struggled with what they do with the locks up top!

    • theda

      And not just hair. Cosmetics, weight loss, hair, plastic surgery… it’s all part of the same topic, our concern with our appearance. I can see how black women wanting straight hair is no different than any women wanting pinker lips or thinner thighs or etc etc etc

    • orville

      I agree. I’m also a white woman, so I can’t speak on the veracity of Rock’s film either, or speak for any other person except myself, but in my experience, I think it’s more a matter that most women aren’t satisfied with what they were born with. My neice has beautiful, thick, curly hair–she hates it. I have baby-fine, straightish (frizzy when humid) hair of indeterminate color (started going grey at 27 and freaked)–and I hate it. We’d gladly switch with each other. I did the big triangle-head perms back in the 80s too because everyone else was. Bobbed it in the 90s. Now I’m just too old to care much beyond “is it clean & combed & marginally free of grey?” But do I still wish I had the thick, lusterous hair I see in magazines? You betcha.

      • js

        You are so right! I’ve always thought every woman wanted the hair her natural hair wouldn’t allow. For me, a white woman with graying straight hair….I’d love to be able to hold a curl for longer than a 1/2 hour.

      • Alexia

        I agree. No one really appreciates their own assets. I have straight blond hair that holds pretty much any style, except the one I really want…a kick-butt Pam Grier in Coffy afro.


      Your simplification of a cultural issue such as this one is condescending.

      • keisha

        WOW, take it down a notch, HappyNappy. This absolutely is about women letting the media affect their view of themselves. All women want to look like models in a magazine, whatever their color. The sooner we all realize that even the models don’t REALLY look like that (PhotoShop and airbrushing is done on EVERY published photo), the better.

  • roseslg

    Alynda, I haven’t seem the film as yet, but I must disagree with you on the all people thinking the notion of good hair is patently foolish. I know many black people in NYC who still prescribe to this notion. I wear my hair natural because I find it easier to take care of than when it’s relaxed, and I’ve had conversations with other naturals who have commented on my good hair, and wanting my good hair, even though my hair is kinky. Never mind some female members of my family who thinks it’s unladylike, and prefers it when I hot iron my hair. They don’t see my natural hair as presentable enough.

    • Nikolay

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  • Michelle

    Amen, sista!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Harriett

    This is a very ignorant article. Black women who claim that the reason they relax their hair is because it’s easy are delusional. Black women relax their hair, because they think non-afro hair is “prettier”, there’s no reason you couldn’t grow dreadlocks, or wear your hair in braids and wrap it everynight; that would be a lot easier than altering the make-up of your hair, and desperately trying to keep it dry so it doesn’t frizz. The problem with black people is we like to blame our issues on slavery. Asian peoples were colonized by Europeans too, Indians don’t all dye their hair blonde and walk around with blue contact lenses, yet most black women relax their hair. It’s not a result of slavery, it’s a desire to be as beautiful as the women we see in the media spotlight, all of whom have some poor Indian girl’s hair sewn into their heads. This is where your comparison to white women getting hair extensions, and black women getting weaves/relaxers falls down; those white women aren’t getting afro-extensions, they’re getting extensions that look exactly like their natural hair, and it’s only function is to give them length-volume. Black women are choosing to completely change the natural look of their hair, by sewing in a completely different race to their head. If you can’t see the differences between these two comparisons, you need to remove your rose tinted glasses.
    The sooner women like you admit that you think afro-hair is ugly, the sooner you’ll stop making tedious articles blasting anyone who suggests you have a hint of self-loathing and white-worship.
    You know it’s true.

    • Torey

      Excellent point and very well-explained. I knew the reviewer was missing something, and this was it. Thanks for your comment, Harriett.

    • Kora Lynn

      You are both men. And you are both crazy. I dont care if you call yourself Harriet. There is no woman who believes that relaxers have anything to do with culture.

      By the way, Dreads and braids although you may consider them part of African American culture have little to do with African culture in the sense you think it does. Africa is a continent and the hair and culture vary as widely as its geographical span. People who make such ignorant statements have a loathing of something they cannot possibly understand.

      Women do as you please with your hair. Use what ever product you see fit to make you hair manageable, beuatiful or representative of you. Shave it if you wish, Mohawk it, braid it, perm it, curl it but be happy what you see in the mirror.

      When someone is projected onto you their social culture they are guilty of what they see White people are. Which is inherently ignorant. All you would need to do is walk into a hair salon, black woman are not alone in having images of beauty projected onto them.

      Dont wait for someone to tell you what makes you happy–love you.

      • jojo

        I live in Africa and I can assure you that where I come from dreadlocks are not a thing of pride and is not a norm in my culture, so when I read about people saying its ‘African’, please exactly what part of Africa? and by the way my hair is relaxed because its easier to manage,and I only did it when I turned 19 and in no way does it detract from my ethnicity because my hair is not whats makes me African, its my fathers language and our traditions. People hair is just hair.

      • TheFuture

        Who qualified you to speak on behalf of all women? The central issue is no about people being told what to do with their hair. It is WHY are they doing what they do. Funny how we can talk about loving your self while at the same time doing everything possible to change your self.

        We were supposed to be Kings and Queens of the Nile.

        Not Denial.

    • T. Lynn Lloyd

      “Black women are choosing to completely change the natural look of their hair, by sewing in a completely different race to their head”

      I couldn’t agree more, Harriet. Maybe that’s because I’m nappy and natural and loving every minute of it! I see the author’s point about relaxers for convenience because styling my natural is not as easy as I thought it would be. But I’ll never go back to the “creamy-crack”!

    • Wino

      But my friend, certain Asian cultures/people DO put Europeans on a pedestal when it comes to looks and style. Have you been to Japan? Anyone with blue eyes and blond hair is considered a “star”. People will take pictures of you, even if you are a regular Joe. Many agencies send their most Anglo looking models to Asia because of the high demand. And lets not even start on certain Asian women and their fascination with dating ONLY white men. The Vietnamese community in particular has had issues stemming from the war. And LOL at asian women NOT wearing blue contacts and sporting blond highlights….apparently you’ve never been to Los Angeles and our beach communities. Like many have said, this is a universal issue.

      • Niyaz

        Gloria, if you’re interested in going naratul, but still aren’t 100% sure, then I’d suggest starting by watching a lot of videos on youtube about care/maintenance and styling of naratul hair. Some great channels that are sure to help you are kimmaytube, napptural85, SimplYounique, Sera2544. Then check out the blogs like curlynikki, naratully curly, and here ofcourse And don’t forget, you don’t have to do the BC

    • lovemovies

      Harriet…I think your comments are partly true, but I take offense to you marginalizing all black women with your generalizations. I wear a perm as well, but by no means do I wear a perm to be white or because I don’t like my hair in it’s natural state. In fact, I wore an afro and braids for years. I view perms as hair management tools, just like white women use gels and mousses to manage their hair. And just because our hair is nappy doesn’t mean we have to be wearing an Afro all the time to make people like you happy. The afro went out in the 70’s and has recently made a comeback, and it’s all good for those who want to wear it. However, wearing an afro does not and never will make your more black. It sounds like you are the one who needs to wake up and realize that one’s race isn’t necessarily tied to hair style.

    • Filmbuff

      Harriet — what anger you carry in your heart. Does your natural hair mean you hate white people? Why would relaxed hair mean the person loves them so much they want to be white? This vitriol is a sign that we are still crabs in a barrel. Fighting and pulling each other down to such an extent that no one gets ahead.

      I wear a relaxer because I don’t like natural hair ON ME. Although I have a couple of good friends that it looks lovely on. I also have a friend who has a relaxer and it looks a mess compared to the beautiful natural style she used to have. But again, those are MY opinions…we’re all entitled to them and it doesn’t mean we’re struggling with racial identity issues if our opinions don’t agree with yours. Since when is our blackness tied to our hair anyway?


        How the hell don’t you like your own natural hair? Why don’t you like it?

        Don’t piss in the wind and tell me it’s raining…

    • NatalieSerious1

      There is so little validity to the opinion that many Black women wear weaves/wigs because of a self-hatred of their naturally tightly-coiled hair but more validity to the very real notion that we do it for versatility and ease of maintenance. If tightly-coiled, 5-inch long hair could be upswept, whipped to one side, put in a ponytail and a lot of other flattering to my face hairstyles, we would wear it! And no one has addressed simple aethetics! What about those of us with misshapen heads, strange hairlines, bigger-than-Sade-foreheads, hair that grows very slowly and is very short, super-thinning-almost-bald-in-front hair? All those descriptions fit me, a weave-wearer for 23 years, Power-to-the-People former Black Muslim.

    • rana

      Thank you! Someone had to say it. Excuses, excuses. “I’m lazy.” Sheesh! Then cut it off and wear a close cut ‘fro then! That’s ‘wash and wear’, and you don’t have to go the salon every 6-8 weeks paying $60 and up.

    • REBA

      While I feel HARRIET makes some viable points, I want to address your comment that white women who wear extensions chose extensions “that look exactly like their natural hair, and it’s only function is to give them length-volume”; what white women are doing still constitutes as being dissatisfied with the length, thickness, and density of their hair. Why would they be putting extensions in their hair in the first place if it weren’t for the purpose of achieving a desired effect? Straight hair is just that, straight.
      As I have gotten older, I realize now that ALL types of hair come with its own set of pros and cons.
      What I have issue with is you are very derisive towards black women. If we choose the option of wearing our hair natural, dreaded, relaxed, textured, or curl nouvea-ed, then WE can take whatever option We want. Does it mean we think our hair is ugly? Frankly, some women probably do, but that doesn’t mean that a Caucasian, Asian or Indian woman is always content with the state of their natural hair, or are free from hair maintenance/management issues; and some of these women “alter” their hair as well.
      Curly perms, body waves, and hair coloring are just as damaging to the hair follicle because it is after all altering/changing the natural state of the hair as well. Black women haven’t cornered the market on over processing or fussing over their hair.

      • agreeswithHarriet

        Actually, black women have cornered the market. With being only about 6% of the U.S. population, black women statistically make up about 80% of all beauty/hair revenue, with the other 20% being all other races of women and men combined. If that’s not cornering the market (and some serious self-hatred), then I don’t know what is….

    • Isabella

      Harriet, women in Japan and Thailand worship whiteness too even more than black women in the Americas. Trust me, I’ve been to both places and you will not find skin lotion in Thailand that does not have bleach in it. Also East Indian culturesc REALLY worship whiteness dark skin Indians get treated horribleby their OWN people forbeing dark.
      . So even though I agree with your comments about black women and the reason they wear weaves, I have to mention that there is plastic surgery to change the nose from flat to protruding as well as eye lid surgery in Asian cultures which are extremely popular. Go to youtube, there are many, many Asians who use skin and makeup techniques and colored contacts to appear less Asian.
      This is very, very common. I see Mexicans all the time with blonde hair and blue contacts, and it’s very popular among Puerto Ricans to straighten and dye their hair blonde.
      I dated an Asian man once and he said he preferred white women because “Asian women tend to be dogs” he said it like it was common knowledge.
      I hear many Asian men say this even though they marryAsian women. So if you travel more you will see the effects of European brainwashing and colonizing onall exposed cultures.
      I think sometimes we as black people don’t pay attention to other cultures doing the same exact things with the same obsession. Believe me, it’s bad in Thailand and among most cultures outside of America.
      I have curly hair and my hair grows down not out or up. I get asked sometimes if I’m wearing a “weave” even though, I’m relatively light skinned with very few black traits. It’s all stereotyping is what the problem is. Because believe me most people do try to look more white in any race, and that’s why even black girls become obsessed with who has a weave on?

  • Fatima

    I will agree that some women are still influenced by the concept of Good Hair. But it does sound like Chris Rock is making a simple generalization and calling any black woman with a weave or relaxer deluded and obsessed with whiteness. I think it’s too big of a call to make. Alynda makes a case for herself quite well as this is basically an issue that often comes down to individuals.

    • T. Hill

      well said!

      • T. Hill

        I’m disappointed that some people (a few Blacks included) are spreading the rumor that Black women are upset with the discussion/movie because we’ve been outed about some big secret, when the truth is, most of us are upset, because the movie, and usually the discussion, generalizes us as “deluded and obsessed with whiteness”, as Fatima put it. As the author stated, White women are just not pschyoanalyzed for chosing the exact same kind of hair treatments. That’s something to we should be mad about, and THAT should be the core of the discussion!

  • gigi

    THANK YOU ALYNDA!! Your points are mine exactly…and that’s why I’m not in a big hurry to see the film. Between Chris Rock and Tyra I don’t know what the big deal is with hair these days. More African-American women are choosing the ‘natrual’ route (which is great for them) and others aren’t. I’m no longer offended when white women ask me about my hair because I’m more inclined now a days to ask them about theirs. My white sisters are getting weaves more often then I do! The film is like you said “well intentioned”, but the context really not relevant.

    • BH

      But white women are getting white-looking weaves. That is very different than a black woman getting a white-looking weave.

      • memi

        Not all weaves that black women get are “white looking”. Braids/micros, curly fros, even dreads. I don’t think a weave can be categorized as “white looking” or “black looking”. That’s silly.

  • Sunny

    Is any woman happy with her hair? I’m a Hindu Indian, who knows one day my hair may end up as a weave and I spent my entire childhod hoping for bouncing curly locks.

    • wendy12

      I am white and my hair sucks. It never looks good unless I go to the salon. So I agree we always want what we don’t have.

  • Well-read Redhead

    Great article. Thanks Alynda for your insights. I’m white, I have naturally curly hair and yes, I use a flat-iron on it. I like it straight and shiny and I can wash it every other day if I straighten it. Wearing it curly and sleeping on it doesn’t always work the next day.
    It’s like Sunny and cranky said: for some unknown reasons, women typically want the hair they weren’t born with, but it isn’t necessarily self-loathing or a deeply rooted psychological or racial issue. At least I don’t think so.

    • agreeswithHarriet

      but you’re (and most non-Black women) aren’t going to the salon and getting curly perms to have afro hair, the way black women do to have straight hair ALL THE TIME. When black women REFUSE to wear their natural hair just about EVER and then go and buy up every races type of hair except for their own (and don’t get me started about the blond and blue eyes thing some do!), yet wanna proclaim it’s just “style”, we’re ignoring a VERY big elephant in the room….and the main perpetrators are always the ones to get so mad when their insecurities are called out….wonder why

  • Rev. Majadi Baruti

    It is important to recognize the very legitimate psychological concepts behind the “good hair” idea. This concept has its historical roots in the mental and spiritual oppression of African populations. These groups often found themselves in positions of self-denial and cultural amnesia. The oppressor’s ideology is often portrayed as the “standard”. In our case this “standard” is Eurocentric and Male-Centric. Rock’s movie was his position which often times is bothe Euro and Male constructed judging from his comedy. He has made some effort here but then it is a documentary from a comedian we must keep that in mind. Our issues surpass these attempts and they are OUR issues. I will end with the idea that Black Women must be the ones who define Black Women, we Black Men must be careful in this process this is not our place. Your level of Afrikan Consciouness is not as simply defined as your hair, Sisters you define you, I am not to step into that role

    Praise African Goddess
    In Submission

    Rev. Majadi Baruti
    Chief Priest
    Udja Temple Ministries

  • jasa

    Sing it sister! As a white woman with kinky curly hair, I have and will continue to spend hundreds of dollars to straighten it. Its a shame Chris did not expose the similarities of white, black or hispanic hair. No one likes what they are born with. The crime is how much $ we spend just to get a comb through it!

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