Documentary looks back at history of hair

By Haley Lewis, Staff Writer


The Black Student Union, in the first part of their showcase, showed the documentary “Good Hair” featuring Chris Rock on May 18.

Michaela Morse, event coordinator of the club, said they originally planned a hair show competition with beauticians and barbers because “it’s well seen throughout the black community” and the purpose of the Black Student Union is “to spread the awareness of what black people are doing in the community.”

Kia Porter, secretary of the club, said they could not get any stylists on such short notice.

“The point of the video was so that people could walk away with more knowledge on African American hair and the culture of it,”said Morse.

The movie showed what a handful of African American celebrities considered “good hair” and their struggles with their hair. It also showed the lengths regular African Americans go to have “good hair.”

In the movie, actress Melyssa Ford said as a child she thought anybody’s hair was better than her own and that she thought good hair was Caucasian hair.

Some of these women because they have kinky, coarse or curly hair, wanted to have their hair relaxed so it would be straighter. They get a treatment called a relaxer in which sodium hydroxide is applied to their scalp, according to the movie.

Porter said she had her first relaxer in early childhood. About a year ago she was tired of all the chemicals and having damaged hair that she did a “big chop” and cut all of the dead hair off.

“I just got back to, ‘You have naturally kinky hair, why not show it?’” said Porter.

A lot of African American ladies wear weaves to achieve a look that their hair could not. The best kinds of weaves are the ones used with real human hair as they look more natural, according to the documentary.

Rock wanted to know where the hair comes from for the weaves. He found out a lot of it comes from India, and hair is India’s biggest export. Men and women shave off their hair in India in a religious practice called tonsure.

Hair, in India, is considered vain and shaving off their hair is considered a form of self-sacrifice. The hair is collected from all the religious temples and then auctioned off to distributors.

The distributors sell the hair to stylists who then sell it to their customers.

Porter said she wears weaves and wigs to protect her natural hair and to help it grow.

Theresa Turner, parliament of the Black Student Union, said she wears a weave because her hair is harder to take care of in Cheney since a lot of products for her type of hair are not available here.

Tijera Loggins said she wears a weave because she does not feel as beautiful in her own hair.

Turner and Porter both said their natural hair looks like an afro. They both said they think there is a downfall to showing off natural hair.

“Sometimes I don’t feel like our natural hair counts as professional with some jobs,” said Turner. “If it’s a company that’s really conservative, no matter how cute your afro is or professional you look, it can be too extreme.”

Porter agreed and said you do not want to scare people in a professional setting by showing off natural hair.

“You need to blend in and look like them,” said Porter.

Porter also said that society portrays how women are supposed to look a certain way and that can add strain to how she feels she should look.
“Sometimes I am ashamed because I feel like when I get dressed up and I have straight or wavy hair people respect me more than if I had an afro or whatever,” said Porter.

Queshawna Anderson, a member of the Black Student Union, said some people will walk up to her and ask if they can touch her hair.

“People don’t get how weird of a question that is,” said Anderson. “It’s all in how you ask it. A lot of it is just curiosity and unknowing.”

Turner said some of her friends who do not wear a weave or do not have hair like her do not understand her struggles.

She said girls who wear weaves create a community of likeness.

“I feel like it links us and brings us together.” said Turner.