Violet is bred for perfection from head to toe. Her mom saw to it. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, perfect stride, impeccable toes to slide into perfect shoes. Everything just perfect to the gaze and the ears. She is bred to only utter words that fall pleasingly on others’ ears. Violet colors with excellent strokes and only within socially acceptable lines. Early on, she learned to maneuver through the world by placing outside perceptions ahead of the person she wanted to be.
However, she didn’t even know who that person was and didn’t realize it until her perfect life plan began to hiccup.
Violet’s metamorphosis starts when her boyfriend of two years didn’t slide an engagement ring on her finger—as she expected. Clint surprised her with a cutie-patooty puppy-dog instead.
Vi is pissed, and her birthday surprise takes her on a roller coaster that led her to a place and idea in which all women—yea, all people—should solidly stand at some point in life: That they are enough.
Nappily Ever After whispered to me, and I felt fragments of my life coursing through the script. I’m certain I’m not the only sista-girl who thinks so. From dodging swimming pools because I didn’t want to reverse my straightened hair to its natural Afro state, to summer camp braid-ups to keep it manageable. Of course there was that ever-present sense of anxiety that my ‘nappy’ hair had to be fixed via the hell-heat torture of a pressing comb.
This film helped resurface memories of wash and press days with my mom and sister at home… the ubiquitous “hold your ear” command in countless black-folks’ kitchens and hair salons across the country, and likely around the world where pressing combs have had their reign.
This movie spoke to me because of the familiar concern I used to have about rain and fog—things that could make freshly pressed and curled tresses scramble back to their roots.
It also spoke to me because in addition to those “hold your ear” commands, countless post-salon care instructions included the words “sleep” and “cute” in tandem. And sleeping cute may have looked cute and kept my hair style as close to salon perfection as possible, but it never resulted in sound sleep and never felt cute for my neck, which usually ached the next morning.
Without giving away the entire storyline, it was gratifying to watch Violet transform from a superficial human who outgrows the hair hatred that was passed down from her mother under the guise of always appearing “acceptable” to the gaze of others—even significant others. It was also heart-warming to see this character start gaining true confidence in herself based on who she is as a person and not how she appears to the world—and definitely not based on whether she has a man. The process is jump-started, but is in no way completed by the end of the film—even after five hairstyles and a liberating pool scene.
I’m also gratified that it didn’t have a storybook “girl gets guy” ending, because we all know those shit-perfect endings ain’t always real. This film is up to the times and realizes that the perfect ending doesn’t always involve a significant other or marriage.
Sometimes the perfect ending means finally being happy with yourself. By yourself. And that’s so okay.
Now I have to get the book to see what actually happens.
There’s another Netflix movie that explores a similar theme–only without pressing combs, perms and flat irons. It’s a Spanish language film that’s titled Soltera Codiciada. The English title—How to Get Over a Breakup. There are several subtitle and audio options. I enjoy films that can involve part-time reading.
In this Flix, Maria Fe’s boyfriend called to dump her. That’s how she spiraled through the seven stages of grief. And drinking. And drunk calling and What’s Apping him as she meandered through each stage.
So what led to this?
Well, what had happened was…
Her novio left Peru to attend graduate school in Madrid, Spain. Then he dumps her, breaks all contact, but she sees him posted with some other chick on Instagram.
Maria Fe drinks, a friend helps her find a roommate and over the months, her life slides back to normal.
Mari-Fe even completes some home-improvement projects in her inherited home, and starts a blog.
Thing is, she always wanted to be a writer, but was occupied by spending her time pleasing her boyfriend for six years to the point where she wasn’t chasing her own dreams.
Homegirl makes strides at work even though her boss is the most horrible person on earth—racist, sexist, homophobic and oblivious to it all.
Fe finds her blog, Soltera Codiciada, getting good traffic traction. She even finds herself on the cusp of a work promotion.
What happens in the nooks and crannies around these key events—well you’ll have to watch the film to find out. But I will say this: Old boy, ex novio, makes a comeback. Whether he stays or goes you’ll find out when you Netflix and chill. But Soltera Codiciada’s ending is spot on in my opinion—just like Nappily Ever After.
Why? Because it also shows a woman can be a fairy godmother, genie, or her own Prince Charming/Principe Azul who respects and rescues her own damn self.
And I love it.
Both Nappily Ever After and Soltera Codiciada/How to Get Over a Breakup earn…