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.

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Even Wonder Woman — one of the best melee women in comic book history — has her hair in an improbable fashion.  Shouldn’t she have that shit braided?

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.

Thor: Ragnarok

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Valkyrie with a unique, more fighter-oriented hairstyle.

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.

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Why does she have her hair down for the last fight when she clearly had a superior hairstyle prior?

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.

Black Panther

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.

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Why doesn’t Gamora have her her up, braided or ponytailed? She’s an assassin, right?

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Written by Johnny Silvercloud

The Soul Brother #1 of a Kind. Consequentialist street photographer abolitionist writer/speaker who stands for any oppressed peoples. I do it because every man and woman deserves freedom of thought -- especially black folks.

7 comments

  1. I think this is the one time you might have missed something, especially with references to comic book movies. All men in comic book movies with long hair have it long and flowing too.

    Take for example Thor, Loki, Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) Aquaman (omg Jason Mamoa and that long ass hair of his). All these are bad ass men who fight alongside the women you are talking about. All have long hair and all are “free flowing” in combat. If it was possible I was going to post an image of each, but that probably isn’t necessary.

    I understand your sentiment, but in this case it isn’t a woman’s thing that is unrealistic, it is just Hollywood itself that is unrealistic about long hair in general.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was just going to make the same comment as Lucky. While it’s true that woman or more likely to have long hair than men, I think that in action movies, men with long hair are just as likely to have that hair unbound. I seem to recall this being true in many of the Chinese action movies as well. Hero with Jet Li comes to mind. I would agree with you though that in general that people would wear long hair in any combat type situation. Hell with my long hair I have trouble eating salad if I don’t pull it back. lol

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  3. Also to add, this might also be a bigger thing in comic book movies, I don’t know. Zoe Saldana who has an action oriented character in the New Star Trek movies does have her hair pulled back in those movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually agree with you on this. It makes more sense to have their hair up, while in combat mode. I touched on this briefly when I talked about how women on TV all wore the same hairstyle: straight on top and curling towards the ends, no matter the race of the character, or circumstances the characters are in.

    It another instance I talked about how all the stories we get to see in popular media are all filtered through a White male lens, since they are the only ones who get to tell the stories. We only see the images they think are a priority to them, and they try to make it seem like something we ALL want, and that includes how women wear their hair, This is why we need diversity both in front of and behind the camera.

    That said, I can think of at least three female combat oriented characters with their hair in combat style, although not from comic books, though: Furiosa from Mad Max, one of my all-time favorite characters, Ripley, especially in Alien 3, when she got her baldness on; and Bobbi from The Expanse. I haven’t watched a whole lot of that show, but I absolutely love that character. She has long hair, which is always kept in a tight bun, when she’s in combat mode. (It helps that she’s also totally bad-ass.) And yeah, I thank Ryan Coogler for thinking in terms of the practical for his female characters.

    Also, you might be interested in going to the website called Bikini Battle Armor. It critiques how combat women are depicted in popular media. (Mostly video games.)

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  5. I so agree, and your analysis added the racial piece I had not seen. Also, I’ve been blinded to the hair issue by being so upset about the women’s combat outfits. Why so much exposed skin. Same issue. What kind of combat outfit is that on Wonder Woman? Not! It’s the worst sexism. Combat women can kick ass as long as they look sexy doing it. I boycotted Wonder Woman for that reason. I haven’t seen the other movies you mentioned, but maybe I need to. I have been wanting to see Black Panther and have appreciated the combat ready hair and more body coverage, but still.

    The only real woman superhero movie I’ve seen was the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo series. The oiginal Danish(?) one, not the immediate American remake which I didn’t bother to see. Her hair and clothing are combat ready and she fights male violence against women.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess I never really thought about that hair issue. (I’m still trying to recover from Wonder Woman.). 😳

    But seriously, you make a good point. When I took martial arts training for several years, we learned that anything can become can weapon or used to one’s advantage. Long hair on a man or woman can become a great hand hold to take control and cause some serious pain. So, with your military background, you must really have been honing in.

    I guess I don’t take the super hero movies too seriously, but your point about the sexism and racism is pretty accurate. I mean in all seriousness, the new Wonder Woman is just too damn sexy to be a serious warrior.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Always a pleasure reading your stuff.

    Like

  7. I hit the reply button too soon. I meant to say that the new Wonder Woman is a great character. I like how she is portrayed from a character point of view – compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent and yet really powerful.

    But visually she is eye candy, a white male fantasy of what a female heroine would be. And now thinking about your point, you are right on.

    That’s why I read your blog: you raise good points and make me think and question things. Thanks man.

    Liked by 1 person

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