Nappily Ever After: A Story of Finding Yourself and Your Hair

Nappily Ever After: A Story of Finding Yourself and Your Hair

Cosette Myrick, Staff Writer

In a collaboration between the Communications and Film Studies Department and the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Global Education here at Le Moyne College, there was a screening of the film Nappily Ever After (2018) on Wednesday, February 24.

The film was released in 2018 and was directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, who is the first Saudi Arabian female director.

The film is a romantic comedy and follows Violet Jones, a woman who breaks up with her longtime boyfriend after he gifts her a dog for her birthday, instead of a diamond ring while on one knee.

Through a tumultuous turn of events, she finds herself and has her own happy ending.

Although categorized as a romantic comedy, the film fights against the conventions of that genre.

The film is focused on Violet herself, even when romantic interests come and go. In the end, we see Violet finding her true self, without a man by her side. The film is truly a story of female power and independence and shows it by breaking apart from the stereotypes of the rom-com genre.

In a stunning parallel, Nappily Ever After shows her self-journey through her hair. She is a Black woman and was raised her whole life with her mother straightening her hair.

The film is broken up into acts: Straight, Weave, Blonde, Bald, New Growth, and Nappily.

At the beginning of the film, she places all her worth into her hair and her image, and the expectations we have as women to always look perfect. As her hair changes and develops, so does she.

Violet learns to love herself for who she really is, and finds her true self by stepping outside of society’s expectations of her.

Haifaa Al-Mansour, the film’s director, is no stranger to stepping outside society’s expectations. Her directorial debut, Wadjda, was shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and was the first film to do so.

During the filming, she had to stay in a van. Due to the restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, she was not allowed to interact with her mostly male crew.

This film also fights the convention of the expectations of women in society and is a common trend in Al-Mansour’s work.

In Wadjda, a young girl enters a Koran reciting competition solely to earn money to purchase a bicycle, which she was not allowed to have as a young girl. Being born in Saudi Arabia, Al-Mansour continues to fight society’s expectations of her every day by making films that encourage and inspire women.

Julie Grossman, the Director of Film Studies at Le Moyne, opened up the Zoom floor for some conversation between the students who attended the screening. The response was overwhelmingly positive by the students.

The discussion touched upon how interesting the choice was that Violet worked in advertising in the film, that as Violet worked to sell products, she was simultaneously selling herself to society’s demands.

The film truly shows that beauty is more than your hair, and asks the question as to where our self-worth as women comes from.

A Black student who attended the screening shared her story of how she resonated with Violet’s journey to find what hair truly makes her happy. The discussion concluded that in the end Violet is serving her own desires, not anyone else’s or society, and teaches us that we should all take our own journey to do the same.

If you’re interested in attending these screenings, keep an eye on your email for the Dolphin Digest! Screenings will also be listed on the Le Moyne events calendar, which also contains the Zoom link.