** originally posted on BV Hair Talk.
My favorite part of this week’s much-talked-about episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show where Chris Rock and Solange Knowles talked about Good Hair? That one photo of Oprah back in the Eighties. The one Chris Rock referred to as “the mean news.” Oprah had the fro that dreams are made of! Round, solid, like the Jackson 5 back in the day. That was a fro with power.
I saw Oprah’s Good Hair episode a day late — by the time I watched it, my friends on Twitter and Facebook had basically recapped the whole thing sentence by sentence online. But still, I watched and was pleasantly surprised. In my opinion, Oprah’s hair episode was ten times better than Tyra’s — because she made sure to have balance. Oprah talked about relaxers, she revealed her hair history (and Chris Rock’s!), she was inclusive and featured white women and their own hair struggles (Ali Wentworth’s segment on being blonde was HILARIOUS!). Oprah’s episode was more well rounded in the sense that she attempted to effectively explain the similarities, while still recognizing the enormous differences between black and white hair.
But there was still some points raised that left me scratching my head.
At one point, Chris Rock declares that “women relax their hair for other women, because men don’t care about hair.” Then he goes on and on about when he’s dated Asian and white women in the past, how his hands have been thirsty, and he’s enjoyed running his fingers through their hair. So… which is it? Pick one and stick with it, Chris. In my experience, men DO care about hair. They just try to convince you that they don’t. They may not notice if you subtly change your style. But in general — and in my experience — men will express anguish if you start talking about cutting your hair off, or changing the style dramatically.
Forget kids, Chris Rock will say the darndest things. And he got Oprah to laugh at the craziest stuff. “That’s when you were a slave, huh?” he said about her childhood photograph. “That’s when you were hanging out with Anita Hill!” he said of another. And Oprah laughed and laughed. A little too hard, almost… but I bought it. Hats off to Oprah for befriending a comedian who we all have seen make jokes about her love life. “That lucky Stedman!”
I bet this Oprah episode was a wake up call for women who haven’t yet educated themselves about their hair, or who haven’t really thought about the reasons they may choose the styles that they do, or question the pain they put themselves through in the name of hair. Certain key points seemed to really resonate with the audience — the declaration that black hair is a 9 billion dollar industry, that Solange Knowles used to spend more than I ever made in a year on weaves and extensions alone, and that little kids are suffering from self esteem problems because of this madness. I absolutely loved the story of the family from Pasadena who Skyped in — Rolondo, Vanessa, and Raven. The mother cut off her hair to better identify with her three year old daughter, who was already struggling with not feeling as pretty as her classmates because of the texture of her natural hair. I thought that was a lovely story. And maybe it’s all in my head, but it seemed a little pointed when Oprah said to the mother “so you cut your hair off. And Chris…made a movie.” It made me wish Malaak Compton-Rock was on the set, just to add in her two cents to the whole Good Hair discussion.
Chris Rock’s Good Hair has already been getting huge buzz, but Oprah just set this film up for even bigger success when it opens October 9. I look forward to going to the theater on opening night, so I can experience it with the rest of America. How will this movie perform at the box office? Will Good Hair start a revolution? Will it lead women to change the way they look at, and consequently treat their hair? Only time will tell, I suppose.
What did you think?