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For black ladies, cutting your hair off is political – as I and the wizard of a new Netflix drama well know

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I cut my loosened fuzz off three months ago I dont regret it, but I cant deny that Im conflicted about my decision in a world-wide where natural “hairs-breadth” has genuine significance

Finally, a cinema taking pitch-black women’s mane narratives to the big screen. Netflix film Nappily Ever After, based on the 2000 volume by Trisha R Thomas, tells the story of Violet Jones( Sanaa Lathan)- a pitch-black dame who prides herself on her long, straightened fuzz and is desperate for her boyfriend to propose to her. Her life starts to fall apart after her boyfriend presents her with a pup rather than a sound, and so she cuts both him and her mane off. “My hair was like a second job,” she says.” Now I’m forced to focus on myself. I wonder who I’ll be ?”

It’s deep material- if you know where to look. The natural-hair movement has been in full swing since the mid-0 0s but there are plenty of pitch-black ladies, like me, who are still at the beginning of their tours. I cut my tightened “hairs-breadth” off three months ago. I don’t regret my decision, but I can’t deny that I often feel ugly and conflicted about my hair’s texture.

Charlie
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff after her piece. Photograph: Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

The gravity of a black girl deciding to cut her “hairs-breadth” off and exit “natural” in a white supremacist society( yes, ours) should not be underestimated. Almost every black hairdresser I saw before eventually plucking up the firmnes to cut my whisker off “ve been told” I was realizing the wrong decision, but it was a reminder of how deep entrenched these views are.

This isn’t just about watches: our wider biography is discoloured by specimen such as the apartheid-era pencil test in South africans- those who could hold a pencil in their “hairs-breadth” without it falling out could not be classified as white. To this day, pitch-black women and girls lose job offers and are sent to detention or are suspendedbecause our hairstyles don’t dres white sensibilities.

The natural-hair movement itself has biases: its preoccupation with” laying your perimeters”( exploiting gelatin produces to drop the leading edge of your hair ), and the practice glossy scrolls are championed over cricks. Even Lathan has a loose-textured curl that sits closer to acceptability than a composition like my own. I believe black females can wear a knit or relax their fuzz and still love themselves, but I wonder where the cinema will glean the line in terms of the reliance many of us have on chemical straighteners and weaves. We are not a monolith and rather than insecurity, many decisions stem from practicality or recreation- who wouldn’t hanker rainbow laces for Black Pride? Beyond that, I don’t think you can blame us for falling into the controls of what society has always said is” good “hairs-breadth” “.

It is a shame that Nappily Ever After doesn’t feature a pitch-black maiden whose whisker is more tightly textured, but I’m hopeful that the cheesy rom-com will go some channel in terms of normalising what is already ordinary: the hair that originates out of our foremen and what we choose to do with it.

Chitra Ramaswamy is away

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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