Sunday, July 25, 2010


I am kind of a failure of a girl, in that I don’t really know how to keep my hair at a level much higher than a mess. I know how to wash it, condition it, brush it, and blow dry it, but switching between leaving my hair down to pony tails is really as fancy as it gets with my hair. Now that I’ve been in Ghana for about two months, I can confidently say that my hair skills earn me absolutely zero brownie points in Ghana. I cannot compete with the constantly changing braids, cornrows, fros, curls, and updos that I’ve seen in Ghana. How do Ghanaian women manage so many different beautiful hairstyles?

For as long as I can remember, black women’s hair has always been a fascinating mystery. I can still remember hanging out in the band room on football game Friday’s in high school watching several girls get their hair done in cornrows as we waited for call time when we’d change into our marching band uniforms. The process and finished product just looked so cool! Since then, I always thought that black hair was special, equipped with qualities that my hair would never ever know.

It wasn’t until I came to Ghana and accompanied the hospital administrator to the hair salon, that I learned about a different take on black hair. As the hospital administrator’s wife sat in the chair getting her hair styled, she said, “See Eva, look at all of the pain and trouble we black women go through just to get our hair to look like yours.” What was she talking about?

I turned to Chris Rock’s documentary, “Good Hair” for answers. The premise of the documentary is that Chris Rock’s daughter came crying to him asking why she didn’t have “good hair.” Baffled by her sadness as much as I was by the hospital administrator’s wife’s comment, he decided to investigate what “good hair” meant. “Good hair” sadly means obroni hair. And the hospital administrator’s wife was right. To get obroni hair, black women have to go through a lot. Even after watching the documentary twice, I think I still have only a very basic understanding of the complexities of black hair. Relaxers (chemically hazardous derivatives of sodium hydroxide) to smooth out hair and weaves (produced in India) are just the basics covered in the documentary. And those beautiful braids? According to my friend Charlotte, those braids cost about $180 to get done in the US (just 5-10 Cedi in Ghana). It’s not just a financial consideration, it can sometimes take about five hours just to get your hair done.

I highly recommend Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” for the curious. While some may think it’s a simple message, I agree with Chris Rock’s final conclusion that there is no such thing as specific “good hair” because whatever hair you have, it’s all good.

1 comment:

  1. Good Hair is very nice movie. There is nothing wring with black women wanting to use relaxers but they should educate themselves with the potetial effects if not applied properly. The movie does a good job in creating awareness.