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Nappy Just Might Be Happy: A Review of Justin Simien’s “Bad Hair”

By Tierra Sheffield

Photo: Screenshot of the film, from Hulu

Justin Simien (director of “Dear White People”) brings you a film that shows the dark and humorous side of “good hair” in his film “Bad Hair.”

Simien takes a satirically twisted look at how much the perception of hair affects black women in their jobs and personal lives. The film takes place in Los Angeles during the 80s, where Anna Bludsoe (played by Elle Lorraine) struggles to be seen in front of the camera, but instead, gets stuck behind the lens.

Within the film, the one thing holding Anna back from her dream is her hair. When former supermodel Rosalynn (played by none other than Vanessa Williams) becomes the executive vice president of the company Culture, Anna gives in to peer pressure and goes to get a weave.

Anna’s visit to the salon shows her unfamiliarity with the setting and reminds her of the trauma she experienced as a kid when she attempted to relax her hair.

A pivotal moment that most black women understand is when Virgie, the beautician (played by Laverne Cox), begins to braid Anna’s hair and ignores her obvious signs of discomfort. She merely dismisses them and calls Anna tender-headed and continues to braid her hair rather tightly.

Watching the torture Anna endures just to change her look adds more meaning to the saying “beauty is pain.” After having the hair for just one day, she sees that it opens doors for her that she didn’t even know were closed to her.

While having the hair to fit in brings Anna everything she wished for it comes with a deadly price. The product given to aid in the upkeep of the hair isn’t enough, the hair starts to crave something more.

If the film were to be rated on a level of Scream to Scary Movie it would be a good mix of Idle Hands and Jennifer’s Body. Good story line, but not lacking the horror attributes.

When it comes to the terrible matching quality of the 80’s wardrobe, the film absolutely got right the bold prints, loud colors, and shiny Hammer pants.

While having the hair to fit in brings Anna everything she wished for, it comes with a deadly price. The product given to aid in the upkeep of the hair isn’t enough as the hair starts to crave something more.

While the film is supposed to be a bit funny, Lena Waithe’s character provides most of the comedy. Kelly Rowland’s pop character was little too Paula Abdul meets Janet Jackson, if you ask me.

Some would say society and its views of what women should be is the villain, but the true villain of the film is the hair.

The film’s ending plays into another stereotype about women and their hair, but that stereotype is also what saves the day.

Honestly, the true pain was seeing the wigs they threw on the characters played by Lena Waithe and Usher. In my opinion, the wig for Lena’s characters looked like cheap throwback Salt N’ Pepa wig, while Usher’s character had to sport a terrible gumby fade hairpiece. Seriously, what were they thinking?

Overall, the film provides good comic relief with small hints of horror added to it. But more importantly, it’s also a reminder to accept yourself even when the rest of the world doesn’t, because it may save your life.

Edited by Alivia Moore & Ryan Michaels

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Made By Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham