There’s no greater horror than that of a young black girl, when someone asks, “Hey, why does your hair look so puffy?”
Haifaa Al-Mansour, the most renowned female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, has put together a masterpiece that highlights the age-old conflict with black girl’s hair. A woman’s mane carries a lot of her identity, and Al-Mansour captures it impeccably. “It’s about a woman who learns how to love herself, how to love her hair, and to embrace who she is,” Al-Mansour previously told EW of the film. “It’s such an amazing, warm story.” The film, based off the highly-rated novel by Trisha R. Thomas, published in 2001, includes a diverse cast starring Sanaa Lathan, Ricky Whittle, and Kiley Casciano.
“Nappily Ever After” is a movie for the culture, that follows a woman through her struggle with self-appreciation. Violet Jones has always grappled with the term ‘perfection’, ever since her mother (played by Lynn Whitfield) insisted on keeping her hair straight and silky during her childhood. After having this attitude imposed on her, Violet grew up wanting her life to be full of precision- everything from her job to her relationship, and of course, her hair too. When her long-time boyfriend Clint’s supposed proposal turns out to be just a puppy and her career starts taking a turn for the worst, Violet’s life begins to spiral out of control. Next thing she knows, Clint’s found another woman (with perfect hair, of course), she’s botched a job presentation, and in an emotionally-charged drunken fit, she’s shaved off all of her hair.
After her big chop, Violet faces the reaction of her coworkers, friends, and family, with opinions ranging from her mom fainting to her girlfriends showing complete elation. Once she decides to own her new look, her life finally starts looking up. Gone is the woman who was scared to be herself. Instead, Violet begins to take the world by storm with a refreshing job, a stronger confidence, and a new budding romance. With her new growth comes a new lifestyle that ends ‘nappily’ ever after.
This film is perfect for black families, especially young girls dealing with the never-ending “nappy hair” struggle. It’s a coming-of-age story about love, loss, and becoming who you really want yourself to be, despite what your peers (and even family) think. The road to self-acceptance has lots of potholes, but the reward of finding yourself is invaluable. And for all the moms out there- this is a story about letting your girl have the hair and life she wants, even if it isn’t “perfect” enough for you. Because her hair is beautiful, either way.
So the next time you’re scrolling through Netflix, looking for a feel-good film- go check out “Nappily Ever After,” out now. You’ll learn how to laugh, how to love, and how to appreciate being the you that you were meant to be.
Photo by Netflix