Black women’s hair has been associated with many nouns: struggle, identity, beauty and self-worth to name a few of them. The most powerful of those nouns, however, is perhaps freedom, which begins when a Black woman cuts, styles or shapes her hair for herself.
This journey to creating locks of liberation is carefully examined in Netflix’s upcoming film, “Nappily Ever After.” The film’s star, Sanna Lathan, plays a character who arrives at an impasse after she has tried out nearly every wispy weave, European extension and coiffed clip-in available to her. She realizes that her life choices have been heavily shaped by societal instruction and standards, including her hairstyle. With that enlightenment, she goes for the big chop in cutting off hair that essentially symbolized her oppression.
Violet Jones, Lathan’s character, shaves her head in the name of independence after having embodied the entrenched pain of having to conform to a world that has discriminated against Black women for simply expressing themselves with various hairstyles. She chooses to go natural, free from perms and other damaging chemicals touted by a beauty industry that praises white ideals. She also chooses to confront her inner self with the dramatic action.
“My hair was like a second job,” Jones, Lathan’s character, said in the film. “Now I’m forced to focus on myself. I wonder who I’ll be?”
Jones’ decision leads not only to the crumbling of her status-quo life but also and ultimately to a deep and healing awareness of her power. It’s clear from just the film’s promo that the character’s journey is well spent.
“Nappily Ever After” will arrive on your Netflix screens on Sept. 21. Watch the trailer below: