By Sharee Silerio
Black women wearing their hair the way it grows out of their heads is a big deal. It breaks the “rules”, makes some people uncomfortable, and is often viewed as unkempt, unprofessional and inappropriate.
The movement for black women to return to the hair they were born with has transformed what black beauty is, means and how it’s presented.
Over the last several years, websites like Curly Nikki have coached, informed, supported and encouraged women from all around the world to “go natural”, offering advice and tips on how to take care of their divine tresses.
The way black women wear their hair, including its impact, has been explored in documentaries like Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” (2009), magazines, celebrity interviews and countless books.
Earlier this year, results of the “‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair” by the Perception Institute found that black women who are in the natural hair community experience more anxiety related to their hair and are twice as likely to report social pressure to straighten their hair at work compared to white women.
“The Root”, a new docuseries from self-taught Brooklyn filmmaker Austin Dancy, aims to shed light on the insights and feelings natural-haired black women have about natural hair.
Produced by his company Point Game Media, the episodes will shine a light on multiple women, their hair and the unique and positive things in their lives.
“I came up with the idea to produce and direct the docuseries after reading a Facebook post that my girlfriend made. In the post, she spoke about a moment during her morning commute where a person randomly made a negative comment about the style that her natural hair was in,” Dancy told Curly Nikki. “After she gave details about that experience, she began to explain that she loves her hair and loves herself no matter what, and that all women should remember to stay true to themselves and not take what outsiders may view as beautiful into consideration.”
For Dancy, this sparked the desire to create something to document different black women’s thoughts and advice on natural hair while offering positive examples of confident, beautiful natural-haired black women.
“I decided to name the series ‘The Root’ because I felt that it was a name that pointed straight to what the essence of the series would be, which is to inspire other black women by letting them see that it’s perfectly ok to feel confident with their natural hair, or their natural roots,” he said.
In the film, some of the questions he asks are: why do you think black women sometimes have difficulties embracing their natural hair? Have you found many creative ways to style your natural hair?
Through the answers to such questions, each episode will reveal what’s at the heart of natural hair for black women. From the dilemma of choosing to go natural, what family and friends might think and say, to the practical journey of learning how to care for and style what is yours, the series is a discussion that we don’t get to see on the screen, until now.
The docuseries is for all women of the African diaspora; black women with various life experiences, professions, hobbies, hair types and stories. However, it’s still specific enough to pique the interest of most natural hair enthusiasts.
According to Dancy, black women who watch vlogs about natural hair and keep up with the lives of their favorite natural hair vloggers will immediately become fans of “The Root”.
“I know that there is a lot of informative content about natural hair on the internet and across social media, such as tutorial videos showing how to do certain styles; but I want ‘The Root’ to be what black women watch either after or before they watch the videos that offer hair care tips and stuff,” he said. “This series will provide them with an extra dose of inspiration while also being a good source of entertainment that features women that they can relate to.”
Watch the debut episode of “The Root” below! More episodes will be released within the next month.
If you want to know when new episodes are released, subscribe to Dancy’s YouTube channel The Austin Dancy, and follow him on Instagram @austirdancy.
How has your experience with natural hair been so far? What do you think about the concept and inspiration behind “The Root”? Are you going to watch the documentary series?