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Unpacking Nappily Ever After

I’d like to start this off by gushing over the fact that Violet chooses no man at the end. Too often in movies, Black women are shown that we must go for the man that’s outside our preference to find happiness, or we end up alone (not by our decision) and regretting our life choices (I’m looking at you Tyler Perry). It was refreshing to see a Black woman CHOOSE herself over anything. Throughout the beginning of the movie Violet felt like a close friend who I wanted to grab by the face and yell “these men aren’t shit! What are you going through all the extra stuff for them for?” On a serious a note, it’s easy in this age of third wave feminism and social media to give a woman shit about being a “pick me”. No judgement or anything, but that is exactly what Violet started the movie out as… a “pick me”. For those who aren’t present on Twitter, a “pick me” is a person who goes the extra mile for the attention of a group or even just one person in particular. “Pick mes” are often called out for changing their looks, ideas, and even goals in order to be the person that they think their target or targets want. They get a lot of shit, but I can guarantee that every one has been or will be one at some point in their life. Isn’t the desire for companionship and attention a basic human characteristic? Anyway, that’s another topic for another time. Since I like how the movie was broken down in four parts, I’ll do the same here.

Straightened

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Violet had a slim chance of being any other way with the mother she has. Quickly the audience finds that Violet’s mother is the reason she feels the need to be “perfect”. Her father tries to be a saving grace, reminding her that she doesn’t need a man. But like in many families, the matron’s voice sets the tone for the child’s life. Obviously as a young black girl, hair was a notable factor in my life, but there was no way I would let it get in the way of my play time. Though I can’t relate to the whole “perfect hair at all times” mantra, I can relate to the whole “using you inside voice thing.” My mom made sure that I was the most mannerable, easygoing, agreeable little girl one can find. Just like Violet’s mom, I’m sure my mom had great intentions; but, I’ve spent my twenties trying to break out of this box she’s built around me.

Lynn Whitfield is great at playing this type of mom (Greenleaf, Cheetah Girls, etc). Violet’s mom is so involved in her life that she felt the need to go over at five in the morning just to see what Violet believes is an engagement ring. In her excitement Violet says “we’ve been preparing for this moment” which only further proves that her mom has literally been grooming her for the perfect man. Violet’s perfect man is a tall, handsome, and young doctor whom she won’t allow to touch her hair, even during sex. I can’t blamer her though, her mom comically touched up her hair just so she will look perfect when he rolls over and looks at her. I question the sanity of any man who thinks it’s normal for a woman to wake up with a face full of makeup and laid hair sans a bonnet.

It’s obvious that Violet feeds off the attention that her looks get her. It’s evident in the way that her hips sway and her hair flips even harder when she passes by men on her way to a business meeting. The audience finds out that Violet works in marketing/advertising and her clients are mainly beauty companies. Who better to sell beauty than a woman who embodies the media’s standard of beauty? Violet’s obsession with her hair is magnified when she constantly asks about the weather to make sure she doesn’t get caught in the rain. Ironically enough, Violet is sprayed by a child (whom she was just gushing over) with a water hose, and her perfect hair is ruined. Desperate to be picture ready for her birthday dinner, Violet frantically finds a place to get her hair done since she can’t get in touch with her usual stylist or her mother. Luckily, she lives in Atlanta where hair salons are just as abundant as gas stations and liquor stores.

While in the chair, Violet has a strange exchange with Zoe (Daria Johns) who the audience soon finds out is the daughter of the owner of the shop, Will (Lyriq Bent). Now, I’m sure this man is meant to be some type of reassuring figure that reminds Black woman that we should love our natural hair. The most eye roll inducing scene in this movie (and there’s a lot of them) is when he comforts a woman who believes that Black men only love long hair by saying “brothers like a woman who’s real”… but I just may be bias since his character in “She’s Gotta Have It” annoyed the hell out of me. Zoe thinks Violet’s insults warrants her to put relaxer in her conditioner which ultimately takes out Violet’s hair. Violet demands the best weave Will can find.

Weaved

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Violet shows up to her birthday dinner with a banging sew in. The hair color is a little lightened which I think gives her a fresh look. Since Violet and her mother are all about appearances, the guests believe that Violet’s mother still does her hair. It is also revealed that Violet’s mother never had her hair done as a child. This is the moment Violet and her mother having been waiting for. Violet is looking perfect, about to be engaged to her perfect man, and eventually have the perfect family, But wait… instead of a ring, Clint brings out the cutest dog. Visually disappointed, Violet sucks it up until her and Clint get home and let each other have it.

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My problem with Clint is that he seemed to be ok with Violet’s perfection until she inquired about marriage. He claims to not really know her and the fact that he had to ask her assistant for her favorite flowers is sad, but why does it take two years for you to bring up this type of concern? If being with Violet felt like being on a two year first date as he expressed, why wouldn’t Clint try to rectify that within the first several months? Who wants to lie next to someone they don’t truly know? I believe Clint liked having a trophy on his arm and having a woman that society would deem suitable for him an was willing to string her along until he found what he truly. Basically Clint was treating Violet like a placeholder

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It’s clear that Violet’s identity was attached to her relationship and more so her hair. The next day at work, she is a fumbling mess. The confidence she had in the former business meeting has been replaced with insecurity and self doubt. She can’t even get through her beauty pitch without questioning her own ideas of perfection. She eventually loses the account which only adds to her string of unfortunate events. She takes a visit to the mall where she sees Zoe stealing a dress. After a heated encounter with Will, Violet sees  a happy couple involving a girl with blonde hair which is the inspiration for her next hairstyle.

Blonde

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Personally, this was my favorite hairstyle out of all for Violet. Violet’s “fuck you” hair frames her face well, but doesn’t fit her personality. This is obvious when she leaves with a man she met at the club and tries to be the edgy cool girl. Adventurous sex is what Violet attempts, but the entire situation turns out clumsy and awkward. Intoxicated and embarrassed, Violet goes to Clint’s job and sees him with a lady doctor which of course turns into a big scene. Violet goes home and with a wine bottle in hand, starts packing all of Clint’s stuff. Her tirade is interrupted when she looks in the mirror and feels what every Black woman has felt at least once in her life. Violet’s hair shaving scene is honestly worth sitting through the rest of the corniness. Staring in the mirror, Violet felt the same way I feel every wash day… out of control. Unlike her, I’ve never had the balls to say “fuck it” and just shave my hair. On a serious note, Violet’s vulnerability was strengthening as she seemingly showed all stages of grief on her face. Not only was she losing her hair, but she was also letting go of everything she thought she was.

Bald

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Violet wakes up the next morning and goes into shock when she looks at the mirror. Obviously her mother hates it, but thankfully her friends and dad encourage her to own her new look. Without the distraction of her hair, Violet is forced to figure out who she is, or even better… who she wants to be. Violet takes this time to build relationships and seems to become a less self involved person. Violet does struggle with getting used to being looked past, but eventually her confidence starts shining through. With a little help from Will, she begins to see the true beauty in herself.

New Growth

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This part is exactly about what it says. Violet has come into her own and is rocking a cute low cut style.Violet is literally a new person and is building relationships on her terms instead of succumbing to what she thinks she has to be. Exes seem to pop back up when you’re in a happy space and Clint shows that he’s not an exception. However, Violet sticks to her newfound genuinity and ultimately chooses herself over anything or anyone.

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Nappily Ever After isn’t the deepest or funniest movie and the acting is a little cheesy, but it’s a cute little bop especially for women who have at least in one point of their life tied their identity to their hair – or anything for that matter. Violet shows the audience that it isn’t impossible to break free of the things that’s been binding you for decades. One thing I wish the movie expounded on is the relationship between Violet’s parents. It was nice seeing them come back together, but I would like to know what disconnected them in the first place. Also, Zoe and Will’s storyline would have been an interesting B plot. Did Nappily Ever After live up to your expectations, or did you just watch it because home girl Sanaa Lathan is in it? Let me know what you think in the comments or send me your opinions on social media!