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Black Women’s Transitions To Pure Hair

The filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa presents an Op-Doc on black women’s resolution to embrace their naturally kinky hair, slightly than use chemical straighteners.

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When i set out to make a documentary about black women who’re “transitioning” — cutting off their chemically straightened hair and embracing their pure kinky afro texture — I had no intention of appearing in the movie. I felt I was an goal observer and really simply wanted to spotlight a rising movement. (Of the 50 or so girls bob wigs black hair I struck up conversations with randomly on the street, the overwhelming majority had gone natural throughout the final three years. In accordance to one industry research, gross sales of chemical straightening kits, which could be dangerous, reportedly dropped by 17 percent between 2006 and 2011.) But including my own story pressured me to look at how I felt about my hair with more honesty than ever earlier than.

There are as many “natural hair journeys” as there are transitioning ladies. What I find exceptional in regards to the motion is the way in which it is spreading by means of black women in America. Many are transitioning silently, without much fanfare. Some are inspired by associates and family members who’ve already made the swap. As Anu Prestonia, the owner of Khamit Kinks, a natural hair salon in Brooklyn, instructed me, “There’s been an evolutionary process that has turned into a revolution.” It isn’t an angry motion. Women aren’t saying their motivation is to combat Eurocentric ideals of beauty. Fairly, this can be a motion characterized by self-discovery and health.

But black hair and the black physique usually have long been a site of political contest in American history and in the American imagination. In opposition to this backdrop, the transition motion has a political dimension — whether or not transitioners bob wigs black hair themselves consider it or not. Demonstrating this degree of self-acceptance represents a strong evolution in black political expression. If racial politics has led to an internalization of self-loathing, then true transformation will come internally, too. It is not going to be a performative act. Saying it loud: “I’m black and I’m proud” is one thing. Believing it quietly is another. So the transition motion is much more profound and rather more highly effective — and that i believe it provides lessons in self-acceptance for individuals of all hues and all genders.

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Zina Saro-Wiwa is a documentary maker and video artist. Her work contains the documentary “This Is My Africa,” which was broadcast on HBO. She is British-Nigerian and lives in Brooklyn.