Why do these combat women got their hair down?
I don’t know what it is, really.
Maybe it’s because I’m an Army veteran who knows combat. Maybe it’s because I love fighters and gladiatorial sports like boxing, and MMA. Maybe it’s because I’m a neck guy. I don’t know what it is…maybe it’s a combination of many things. One thing I do know, is that seeing combative, melee, hands-on action chicks with their hair down bugs the crap out of me. I’m beginning to truly hate it.
You see, back in the day when I was a kid I really didn’t think about it. I never really had the experience to actually pay attention to such things. Being that I became the “Vicious Abolitionist” writer/speaker, I have a great amount of attention on how characters — fictional or not — are represented.
I’m not exactly sure when I became cognizant of this flaw, but I do know the moment I realized that I’m undeniably bothered by the insistence that a woman heroine just HAS to have her hair down. It was the moment where Tessa Thompson graced the silver screen as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok in 2016.
When Valkyrie made her debut on the silver screen, she was pretty damn awesome. she looked radically different than most women heroes on screen. I’m not speaking on the fact that she was a Black female character. I’m speaking on the fact that she had her hair up.
Think about it; how many female comic book heroes you’ve seen with their hair up? Or their hair done in a specific style that’s NOT just letting it flop loose? I’ll cheat and let you have a pony tail; how many ladies of war have you seen from comics, have their hair in a more combat-ready ponytail? I can’t think of a single one.
The problem I had with Valkyrie was how she had her her up, in a specific, far more afrocentric looking hairdo in the beginning of the movie but by the time she arrives in the third act, she literally has her hair down when she’s engaging in far more action than what she met in the first two-thirds of the movie.
I’m not going to lie — I was pissed.
Half of the problem was the fact that it seemed like a cheap attempt to make the Los Angeles native, Afro-American Tessa Thompson look more Caucasian, but also the fact that it’s one-hundred percent totally illogical for an elite fighter as she’s supposed to be to let her hair down when she has to kick ass to save Thor’s Shakespearean-sounding posterior. This was done as if somehow this was an upgrade. While I enjoyed the movie, I’m a bit furious over this character design decision.
So there I was, robbed from a physical combat-oriented heroine looking like she’s got hands.
So I mosey on down to Black Panther. I looked at:
- Combat-chick #1 (Okoye): Bald.
- Combat-chick #2 (Nakia)? Short hair, out of her way.
- Combat-chick #3 (Shuri)? Hairdo has hair out of the way.
Black Panther seemed to have the right idea (thank you, Ryan Coogler).
Avengers: Infinity War
So Avengers: Infinity War comes out. While two out of three of the Wakandan female fighters so up on screen not breaking code, every other female fighter pulled a Ragnorok and had their hair down.
While one can claim Nebula proves me wrong here with her being bald, my biggest gripes is with Black Widow and worse, Gamora.
Gamora is supposed to be this super-feared, highly elite killing machine of an assassin. I mean, hell, it’s even said in the movie. It’s been said and alluded to more than once in Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Why in the blue fuck is her hair down? I’ll let Black Widow fly, being that her hair is relatively short and she’s shouldn’t be on the level of a genetically/cybernetically enhanced warrior alien assassin who’s feared across the galaxy. But Gamora? Damn.
Gamora, an elite assassin has her hair down like a 17 year old white boy’s prom date.
With no question this problem is grounded in sexism. Being that white men are at the helm in regards to these characters the majority of the time, these characters reflect white-guy desires and a white-guy understanding of what it means to be beautiful or attractive. With further analysis, this phenomenon not only slides through sexism, but also racism or ethnicism. Having a woman’s hair down is a eurocentric influence. Having hair loose and down is a white standard for beauty. For some strange reason, white people for hundreds, if not thousands of years are convinced that just letting hair down alone is a unique hairstyle, and from there, they design these characters. No single lock braided, no ponytail, nothing. Gamora is an alien, and she doesn’t even have some out-of-this-world hairstyle. Get the fuck outta here.
The funny thing about this white-male-outlook on the aesthetics of a woman’s beauty or identity, is the fact that when you default to everyone having their hair down, everyone looks the same. These women — which goes to real-life, nonfiction too — are removed from a possibly using their hair to express uniqueness. It gets worse when everyone is made to be blonde, but I won’t go there.
In closing, I sincerely hope someone tell these folk in Hollywood that it’s okay for women to have their hair up. Black, white, Asian, alien or otherwise. Put their hair up when women typically put their hair up. In a world with hundreds of female boxers and MMA fighters — as well as professional warfighters and military women — there should be no excuses. We know what combat women look like. It’s just baffling on how studio execs would spend millions of dollars on CGI (computer-generated imaging) but not a dime on a hairstylist.
Shoot, I know a homegirl down the street who would hook up Gamora for a pack of Newports and a box of donuts.
Hollywood, get good at this.
If Captain Marvel doesn’t have her signature short, military haircut, I’m throwing a soda at somebody.