I went to see the Chris Rock movie, “Good Hair,” with celebrity hairstylist Tracy Riggs.
has been a stylist for 22 years and recently moved to the Qcity from
Philadelphia. She has worked on all types of hair, most recently Erykah
After the movie, I sat with Tracy for a candid talk
about the film. We also talked about the relationship black women have
with their hair and the way some black men perceive us through our hair.
Q. What did you think of the movie?
I found it very interesting. I didn’t realize the perception that black
men have about black women. One said he could better connect with a
white woman because he couldn’t feel through a black woman’s hair.
Me: That’s because a lot of black woman wear weaves. It’s crazy that some men can’t connect with us over our hair.
Q. What is good hair to you?
Tracy: It’s healthy hair. It doesn’t matter if it’s long, short, if it’s in its natural state or relaxed. Good hair is healthy hair.
I agree. We spend a lot of time on our hair, but a lot of women’s hair
isn’t healthy. If you don’t take proper care of your hair it’s going to
be a mess.
Q. What surprised you most about the movie?
Tracy: How many women are wearing extensions, and how much they are spending on weaves and depending on them so much.
Q. Why do you think woman are depending on weaves?
We are moving into a global society. Some black women want to compete.
In order to compete, they feel they’ve got to look the part.
What’s wrong with the way you look? I don’t have anything against a
woman and how she wears her hair, as long as it’s becoming. I don’t
knock a sister who wears a weave. The movie made me think about the
deeper issue behind why women choose to wear their hair in certain
styles. Who are we competing against?
Tracy: When you’re looking in the mirror, who exactly are you looking at?
Me: Right. Why isn’t the image you see of yourself good enough?
why I wear my natural in its natural state. I’ve worn a relaxer back in
the day. But I’ve learned that hair can prohibit a lot of women from
being who they are. You can’t go swimming, won’t get caught in the
rain, you won’t exercise.
Q. How do you feel about weaves?
Tracy: Honestly, I don’t care for weaves.
Me: Why is that?
You want to be your own person and love yourself. I see a lot of woman
depending on extensions. I’ve talked a lot of my clients out of getting
extensions because I felt that we could do something with their hair.
Your own hair makes you, you. Your own hair makes you special.
Me: How receptive are woman to that approach?
I would say 80 percent of my clients are natural and get their hair
blown out. We grew out their relaxer, and I’ve gotten them out of
Me: Are we talking about Black women?
Yes, African-American women. They get their hair blown out or pressed
and curled. It still has the same body, still has the same shine. It’s
in a healthier state since we’ve grown out the relaxer and not put
Q. What do you think of natural hair?
I love natural hair. A person looks so beautiful and confident when
they can wear their hair natural. I love it that you wear your hair
natural. It’s awesome.
Me: Thank you.
At one point during the movie, you yelled at the screen. It was the
scene when the woman was relaxing the little girl’s hair. You said,
“Stop being lazy. Do her hair.”
Tracy: Yes. Some
women don’t have the time. You can’t take the easy way out and just
throw a relaxer in her hair and then slap it in a ponytail. It’s not
fair to the child.
Me: That’s crazy. I can’t believe people are relaxing little 3-year-old’s hair.
Tracy: Yes, they are babies.
Q. In the movie, Al Sharpton said our self-esteem is wrapped up in our hair. What do you think about that?
I think that’s true. The pressure of our peers and our surroundings and
whether you work in corporate America or you don’t, you have to look a
certain way. We’ve got caught up in that.
Me: A lot of women don’t love themselves. We’ve got to go back to embracing our own beauty.
Q. Do you think society plays a role in imaging for us?
I think the African American man has a lot to do with the way black
women think they need to wear their hair. I think some black woman
subconsciously are doing what they think the black man wants, thinking
that’s going to make him want her. We feel it. It’s real, but it goes
Me: Yeah, but I see a shift in men who are
embracing natural hair. One brother told me recently that he prefers
women who wear natural hair. I was surprised.
Q. What can woman do to change some of these issues?
We need to start in our own families, start with your kids. Let them
know they need to work on themselves. Whatever issues you have
internally, start working on yourself. Start loving yourself. Hair is
not going to be that deep. You won’t be scared to cut it, or scared to
wear that color you want, or to wear your own hair. It’s coming from
the inside because you love yourself.
Me: I say
that all the time. Beauty comes from the inside out. Once you get your
inside together, everything on the outside will shine.