Remember The Slap? The conflict everyone was talking about last April, where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage during the Oscars over a bad joke made by Rock against Jada Pinkett Smith over how she was balding due to her alopecia condition?
I discussed alopecia in the media last year regarding how little coverage it gets despite affecting 6.8 million people in the US alone. How, for the first time in modern media history, people with the condition (such as myself) had almost felt heard. At least, up until the media focused on the act of violence rather than why it was happening in the first place.
Uncomfortable as it may have been, The Slap, and really, Jada Pinkett Smith’s wonderful and open discussions afterward brought to light an issue in not just media but culture that doesn’t get discussed enough: cultural identity in relation to hairstyles, along with what it means to ‘feel normal’.
To love your hair is to love yourself. 💜 pic.twitter.com/gXxx393kxG
— Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (@DisneyMGDD) February 17, 2023
Moon Girl Episode 5’s: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow does just that by presenting a culturally important yet funny episode about loving one’s self. The Mary Sue even said that if there was one episode to watch of the series, it would be this one, as it showcases some of the insensitivities of the ‘good hair’ versus ‘bad hair’ dynamic often played out in our schools.
What’s incredible is that this episode not only focuses on the cultural stylings of black women’s hairdos, their empowerment, political statements and beauty, but also, goes into how important hair in general means to an individual, especially for young little girls.
“Well, definitely I’ve experienced, you know, someone calling my hair frizzy or messy,” said Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’s leading actress, Diamond White during the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur press junket. “That’s why it was important for me to see the episode where Lunella gets her hair straightened, the perm episode. That touched my soul in a place where it was like, yeah, I’ve been through this.”
“Your hair really does become your enemy,” White continued. “Growing up Black, your hair becomes your enemy. So, it’s really cool to see that play out and that’s something that I’ve never seen on television before. I thank everyone on the team for allowing me to, like, bring my voice to that episode because I…I needed to see that.”
In “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” Lunella Lafeyette, AKA Moon Girl, tries to chemically concoct a hair straightener that quickly devolves into a Frankenstein’s Monster situation. The event causes her to undergo her own form of traction alopecia, where her formerly beloved hair falls out to become a villain to defeat in the episode. All in a powerful yet subtle statement presented and executed in a way that only animation can pull off.
What makes this such an important episode is that the major theme is about hair loss as a young black girl, since black women have a significantly higher rate of alopecia in the US as a result of repeated treatments made to feel more culturally ‘accepted’. It’s a real-life experience that can be traumatizing, caused by alienation and, most shockingly, real-life practices that rarely get addressed in television and media… until now.
Thankfully, the episode tackles this experience rather tastefully with moments of sincerity, with guidance from Lunella’s mother and grandmother. The matriarchs share their own personal journey to the young girl about their own tales regarding black hairstyles. All in a story about intergenerational women coming together and having the long overdue conversation regarding an issue that rarely gets talked about.
The 100% fresh rated Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is available on Disney+ right now. The episode “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow,” airs on the Disney channel Saturday, February 25th. In a shocking reveal of events, his episode is also even getting a book deal for a middle grade children’s story to be published this August, because yes, it’s that important of a story to tell.