The Curlformer Days circa 2014
The Florida Project
I went to a free screening of The Florida Project on 30th October.
I went with low expectations. It was free and something to do on a Monday night.
It starts with several scenes of screeching, screaming kids enjoying the freedom of the summer holidays. They live on a motel complex and pass the time having spitting contests and partaking in other general mischief.
The story initially unfolds from the kids’ perspective, as the film develops there is a merged outlook as the adult narratives come to the fore.
Essentially it is a story of everydayness, of getting by and surviving. Monee the 6 year old, who goes out to play from daybreak to dusk like it’s the 1970s, lives with her young adult mother in a motel room in a hand to mouth existence. They sell counterfeit perfume to guests at the plush hotel over the freeway, they occasionally have free breakfasts there by pretending that they are guests and they just about make rent every week.
We don’t know how they came to be living there but we do know there has historically been contact with social services.
All the roles bar one are played by non-actors. Wilhem Dafoe, the only professional actor, plays the avuncular figure trying to take care of everyone; shooing a suspected pedophile on his way, and trying to save Monee’s mother from herself and her child.
The mother – clearly cares about her child but is quick to anger and is impulsive. She beats up a former friend and that sets in motion a serious of events that ends with social services coming to take her daughter into temporary care. She is an unsympathetic character which is juxtaposed with the quality of her doing anything to make money to look after her child even if that means selling her body.
Cinematographically the scenes showing Monee in the bath were the most intriguing. We were shown scenes of the 6 year old in the bath time and time again. And frankly it felt uncomfortable. It was only later that I made the connection that every time Monee was in the bath her mother was selling sex or sexual favours.
It’s a well-made film. Sometimes you are aware of the non-actors over acting or over reacting to a direction. Overall its solid but not a film I’d recommend.
These pictures have caused uproar this week.
One Twitter user commenting:
‘Sooo there was not one comb or brush the entire building? No edge control? Couldn’t even give her some weave for that newborn ponytail? Smh’
Others have jumped to the defence of the brand who they say often feature undone hair (cue pictures of white models with the messy bun look).
Eventually J Crew dragged out a non-apology:
J Crew strives to represent every race, gender and background. We sincerely apologise for the styling of this model and the offense (sic) that was caused. We assure you that we are taking steps to address it, and to prevent this from happening again.
But I’m not convinced they really understood what the issue was.
For me it wasn’t the point made by those saying that she should have brushed her hair and laid her edges. I don’t use combs, brushes, eco styler gel or guerilla snot either, I’m accustomed to some frizzy, fuzzy edges.
For me the point was that hair looked dry and under strain to get into a bun. Any hair stylist that is going to declare that dry hair ready to photo needs a lesson or two. Any hair syslist that is going to manipulate dry afro hair into a high bun needs a lesson or two.
The model didn’t have an issue with the photo (I imagine she wants to work again). So I get that my opinion doesn’t matter to her but when that photo is part of the pictography that describes and visualises afro hair, well then, not only do I care but it’s my right to have an opinion.
Emma Dabiri is writing a book about black hair. It’s called A History of Hair and will be published by penguin in 2018.
I know this because I saw her speak on a panel a couple of weeks ago.
The panel was an Afroclicks event and the topic was
One of the discussion points was: is your hair texture keeping you single. The meta message clear; some hair is seen as more desirable than others. Her quick google search before the panel would appear to suggest this too. Of the 20 first pictures that come up in an image search of ‘natural hair’ 17 showed women with loose curls; an erasure of the hair texture that the represents perhaps the majority of women with afro hair.
She invited people to offer their personal testimony about this issue by answering the questions below. She hopes to include these stories in her book which promises to be ‘an inspiring personal and critical account of the history of Afro hair’.
In no more than 5 words describe your hair?
Afro, dense but thin strands
• In no more than 5 words describe beautiful hair
Moisturised, even ends, Afro
• What is your ideal hair texture?
My own, which is 4b/4c. I love its versatility although I wish it took on moisture more easily.
• Have you ever wanted to have a different hair texture to the one you were born with?
Not fundamentally different. I wish my hair didn’t break as easily and I wish the hair on my crown stayed as tangle free as some other areas on my head.
• Do men respond differently to you based on how you wear your hair?
Yep. My big afro plenty of attention the granny plaits not so much.
• Do you feel under any form of pressure to make your hair look a certain way?
No. I barely do my hair and often go about my business with 5 chunky plaits on my head.
• Do you think men have a preference when it comes to what type of hair they desire in a partner?
I’d really hope not. That would be fairly superficial criteria upon which to choose a partner.
• If yes, where does that preference come from?
This time last year I was struggling with an intensely inconvenient case of acne. Thankfully I’m not breaking out quite so much anymore. So my face has a chance to recover inbetween and the inevitable hyperpigmentation isn’t quite as pronounced.
I’ve managed to settle on a 4 product rotation, with the almost daily application of salicylic acid. This and most likely the reduction of stress in my life has worked wonderfully.
I’m going to mend my slapdash sewing ways. I can’t be spending 5 hours making a Morsbag. I’ve enrolled on a half-day Saturday course at this North London sewing shop.
It’s three hours of learning various techniques – such as zip insertion, pleats, pockets and button holes. All things that I’ve managed to freestyle on projects but it’ll be good to see the difference that a solid technique has on both time and finesse.