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A Review of “Hair Freedom” and “Hairitage”

 

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Photo Credit: Glenford Nunez

 

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’ve probably noticed that the natural hair movement has been gaining more and more traction in the UK over the past few years. Now documentaries and short films are being created to discuss the impact of natural hair movement on the lives of naturalistas in the UK.

These mini-documentaries and short films provide spaces to have meaningful conversations about natural hair in the UK. I recently decided to check out two mini-documentaries in particular called “Hair Freedom” and “Hairitage”. Both of these documentaries were really fascinating to watch and were able to bring to light some really important issues.

The first documentary I watched was called “Hair Freedom”. “Hair Freedom” is a BBC raw production by Zindzi Drayton. It begins by addressing the idea of a “natural hair movement” and how the existence of this movement shows that for so long black women have been told that we have to do unnatural things to our hair in order for it to be acceptable, respectable and good enough.

 

 

It discusses how our hair is often seen as part of our identity and how knowledge of that perception influences the way we see ourselves. It investigates the changing views of natural hair from the strong political statement that it was in the 70s, to the symbol of struggle, poverty and economic disadvantage it returned to after the Civil Rights era to the symbol of “Afrocentrism” and ethnic pride that it is today.

It mentions the sense of community that comes with embracing your natural hair and the bond between naturalistas due to a common experience. It closes by suggesting that it would be nice to get the point where natural hair having is not really a political statement but is seen as just as personal style choice without any deeper socio-political connotations.

“Hairitage” is an EastSide Community Heritage production. It focuses on the perspectives of Black East Londoners in particular and discusses their changing relationship with their hair. It opens up by addressing the idea that afro hair is inferior to straight hair partially due to the apparent difficulty in its management and care. It talks about how difficult it is for many to learn what works and what doesn’t work on your hair.

 

 

It even addresses the tendency to favour certain leftover ideals from Eurocentric beauty standards such as desire for longer and stretched out hair. I was unhappy with the shaming of black women with weaves that came from a black man interviewed but all in all the documentary was quite good and brought up a lot of interesting and relevant perspectives to the discussion of natural hair in the UK.

I chose these two mini-documentaries because I wanted to gain a better understanding of the natural hair movement in the UK. As with many things, very often conversations online regarding the natural hair movement can be very US focused and centred and it’s good to hear about the experiences of other naturlistas in the UK.

So let me know what you think? Have you seen these videos? What did you think of them? Have you seen other natural hair documentaries? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

Frances Uhomoibhi
I am a 20-something Naturalista with a love for all things Black. I love writing, spoken word, and doing social justice work. Living in London, I hope to help young black girls to love their beauty inside and out.

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