A Book and Film Blog

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Where Netflix' 'Nappily Ever After' got it right

Nappily Ever After Film Review

An illustration image showing an assortment of black hair products and, an image of a black woman with an afro.
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*May contain unpopular opinions*

So this'll be a quick post ! I just had a some stuff I wanted to get off my chest ! I drafted this a while ago and looking back on this post, I'm now wondering why I felt so strongly about a film that in all honesty ... is mediocre at best. Despite its faults I did quite like it, it's a good Sunday afternoon film as you scroll Twitter. Now before we begin, I was talking about this film with some of my caucasian counterparts. And for some reason they thought 'nappily' meant 'never happy'   So to clarify, 'nappy' is a derogatory term used to describe Afro-textured hair.

A couple of months ago, Nappily Ever After, a romantic-comedy starring Sanaa Lathan was released on Netflix. Nappily Ever After is adapted from the Trisha R. Thomas novel of the same name and follows Violet (Lathan). She's a young, black woman who has a seemingly perfect life - great job, great (allegedly) boyfriend, and great hair. I know, it's sounding v cliched (and it is) but stick with me here. She's been with her boyfriend for years and is expecting him to propose. When he doesn't, she has an irrational seeming breakdown. It leads her to evaluate her life and she realises she's not comfortable with her life and needs to be making some changes. And that starts with going bald !
It's a bit dramatic yes. But in shaving her head, she realises how much she relied on her hair to feel beautiful. She's forced to look within to find strength, beauty and confidence and in doing so, learns to truly love herself.

Is it a bit cheesy/contrived? Yes. Has this been done before? Absolutely. But the film caught a lot more slack than I expected it would. The general consensus was that the black community is beyond this message; it's anti-weave/anti-relaxer; it suggests all our problems are linked to our hair ; it's patronising. While I can see where all these points are coming from (though I don't believe the film is anti-weave), I do feel we judged it a bit to harshly. How many of our well-loved rom-coms repeat the same tropes? And we cannot deny that a sizeable number of black women (myself included) have a complicated history/relationship with their hair - some of whom's stories bare some resemblance to Violet's. European beauty standards have been used to oppress us for decades and continue to do so. This article chronicles this history, starting from the 1800s.

I know black women who don't feel comfortable going to work without a wig/weave. I know black women who would never be caught dead with their afro. So no Nappily Ever After is not going to speak to all black women, but it'll be uplifting and feel good for many.  And we can't expect films with majority black casts to reflect the experiences of all black people.

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1 comment

  1. I need to give this a watch!!

    www.petiteelliee.com

    Ellie xx

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