By Taylor Mitchell |

Netflix’s original “Nappily Ever After” is not just your everyday rom-com, and I’m not just saying that because the movie focuses on a black woman and her hair. The movie focuses on a message much larger than that. “Nappily Ever After” is a movie about the journey of self-love, and that’s a message I can get behind.

In the movie, the main character, Violet Jones (Sanaa Lathan), is taught at a very young age to place a greater importance on perfection, achieving so through maintaining a certain hairstyle. Violet’s values of perfection are exemplified through her hair as she gets older, equalizing her hair texture to her overall happiness in life. When her “perfect” hair and her perfect façade come crashing down, Violet feels forced to push the restart button she deals with her hair. The stages Violet’s hair went through reminded me a lot of the stages I went through on my own journey of self-love.

Weave

For Violet, this was the start of her drop from cloud nine. She expected her longtime boyfriend, Clint (Ricky Whittle), to propose to her that night at her birthday dinner. But earlier that day, her hair got wet, causing her hair to curl ruining her perfect look. In a last-ditch effort to look perfect for the proposal, she schedules an emergency hair appointment. When the hairdresser accidentally puts a relaxer in her hair instead of conditioner, her hair falls out and she is forced to get a weave.

In my journey to self-love, the “weave stage” was my way of presenting a strong front when I was drowning. I couldn’t seem to do anything properly from my school life to my personal life. I based my self-worth on others. And most of all, I was beyond stressed. But instead of asking for help, I acted like everything was still perfect because that is what I believed people wanted from me.

Blonde

After Clint tells Violet that he wasn’t planning on proposing, he blames Violet’s obsession with perfection and they break up. Wanting to try something new and reinvent herself, she dyed her hair blond. However, after a night out with the girls, Violet ends up rushing back to Clint only to find him flirting with another female coworker.

This stage reminded me a lot of my fake reinvention stage. I would see people living happy, carefree lives and I wanted that. In an effort to feel carefree, I would act like I cared very little about anything, and I wanted to do everything as long as it involved being around other people.

Bald

After seeing Clint and his coworker together, Violet breaks down and ends up shaving her head the same night. She shaved her “perfection” off and for a moment, you can see the relief in her face. However, when she wakes up the next day, those feelings are the complete opposite. It wasn’t until an accidental encounter with a cancer support group, Violet starts to find confidence in her new look. This confidence leads Violet to form a bond with Will (Lyirq Brent), a hairdresser, and Zoe (Daria Johns), his daughter. Through this bond, Violet learns to embrace her new look and starts to discover who she is without worrying so much about her appearance.

For me, my bald moment was when I felt as though I hit rock bottom. All the problems I had been running from had caught up to me, and there was nowhere else for me to run. My façade of perfection was reviled, and I felt as though I had let everyone down. That night I had the biggest fight I’ve ever had in my life with my parents. The fight got to such an extreme emotional breaking point that I believed we would never speak again. However, that was something neither one of us wanted and when I was able to be honest and explain to them that I had been struggling with the need of perfection and the pressures I felt to be their ideal daughter, they were able to help me see that is not what they ever intended. This led me to slowly stop believing that my worth was based on how others viewed me and start accepting my flaws.

New Growth

During this stage, Violet began to really embrace who she is. Yes, she was challenged at times, especially when Clint asked her to marry him whilst expecting her old perfection. However, Violet saw the growth that she had done through the past year and instead of going back to her old ways, she chose to express her new self. At an engagement party, Violet jumps into the pool,  a very public act to show Clint and the other attendants that she was no longer the same person she had always been.

Like Violet, I feel as though I face challenges with my new growth daily. However, on the really hard days, I just look back at who I used to be, and I am reminded of how much happier I am now.  

Nappily

This is the last and personally my favorite stage of Violet’s journey to self-love. In this stage, Violet proposes an advertising plan for Will’s hair products to a board of investors. As Will and Violet are leaving, there is a split moment where the audience is led to believe they are going to get together. Instead, she happily walks out by herself, showing that she is loving herself and enjoying who she is instead of trying to find another love interest to fill an empty void.

Now this stage for me is still ongoing, but as of right now, I’m just taking it one step at a time.