As Black Panther secures its place in history as the 10th highest grossing film of all time, I wanted to share the impact that the film has had on black, bald women.
Not everyone chooses their baldness. Not everyone looks into the mirror and says, “I’m going for the big chop.” For some 6.8 million Americans, the decision is made for them as a result of Alopecia. Alopecia, the hair loss condition, wreaks havoc on a woman’s self esteem. Alopecia tells women they’re abnormal, they’re unattractive, they’re undateable—they’re worthless. But Black Panther and the warriors of Wakanda did something for bald, black women that had NEVER been done before. They recognized them as strong, beautiful, valuable, and regal.
“There are so many women of color who are hiding behind their wigs and their weaves.” —Jurline Redeaux
I would have missed this point entirely had I not connected with Jurline Redeaux, a member of Black TV Film Crew and a black woman who has suffered from Alopecia for more than 30 years. In an initiative to connect with our members, we reposted member photos late last week when we came across Jurline. She posted a photo of herself in a chair, her head shiny and bald, with the caption, “Black Panther screening in Long Beach. #warriorgoddess.” I guess it was the hashtag that got me, but it was also the glow in her face, the smile, and her eyes. She seemed proud. Her photo oozed, “I am a warrior goddess.” And so we reposted it. And what happened after is what inspired this article.
“The Black Panther movie empowered me. After I saw the preview with the women who were bald, I was empowered to go to the opening bald.” —Jurline Redeaux
When Jurline saw that we had selected her photo on Black TV Film Crew’s Instagram page. She left this comment, “You got me crying this morning. I used to be so ashamed of my baldness that I used to sleep in my wig.”
Sleep in your wig? An awakening began. I perused Jurline’s Instagram and I saw a photo of the warriors of Wakanda united with a photo of black women all rocking close cropped, bald heads. I wanted to know why Jurline was ashamed. And I wanted her to know how regal she appeared in her photo. And so I responded, “You are beautiful. Your image will inspire others who struggle with baldness.”
But that was just the beginning. The day I met Jurline via Instagram, I was a guest on Karima’s Show & Tell radio show. The question was raised, “What do you think is the cultural impact of Black Panther?” Me and three other guests gave varied answers but the most riveting answer was given by Danny Asshole (that’s what he calls himself.) I’m paraphrasing but the essence of his statement was, “Those beautiful black women with them bald heads… Before Black Panther, I would have never considered dating a woman with a bald head. But now… Those women were sexy. Ummph. They did something to me.”
I left the studio realizing Danny’s comments and Jurline’s photos and comments were related. Black Panther had impacted people in a way I hadn’t realized. Black Panther impacted the way people saw black women with bald heads. And, Black women with bald heads no longer had to feel ashamed of their baldness because the #1 movie in the world said, “You are beautiful, strong, regal and valuable.”
I interviewed Jurline shortly after my mind began to connect the dots. This is my summary of what the Black Panther movie did for bald, black women with help from Jurline.
1. It made them beautiful to others who did not see them that way.
“There are men who will straight up say, ‘I don’t want to date a woman with no hair.’ There are men who will say to a woman suffering from Alopecia, ‘I don’t want to see you without your hair on.’” —Jurline Redeaux
2. It gave bald women freedom.
“I went to church for the first time bald after I saw Black Panther. And they ushered me to the front. I feel free, I’m no longer ashamed.”
3. It gave women boldness.
“I’ve been other places bald, but now when I go, I’m bold with it, I’m regal.” —Jurline Redeaux
4. It connected people to their ancestors.
“I believe my people suffered from Alopecia before they were brought to America. My grandmother suffered from it. When I saw the women on screen, not only did it empower me, it connected me to my people.” —Jurline Redeaux
5. It gave a sense of pride.
“Black Panther made me proud to be bald. I’m proud.”
Not too long ago, a black teen girl had her wig snatched off at school. The video and article went viral on Facebook. She, too, suffers from alopecia. Imagine how she may feel now knowing that bald is beautiful and bald is being praised. Hopefully, she’s a bit more inspired and empowered. I loved the Black Panther movie even before I realized how it positively impacted black, bald women. But learning of this cultural impact made me appreciate the efforts of the cast and crew even more. To produce a body of work which is so giving to the community is the ultimate act of love.
Has Black Panther inspired you in some way? If so, leave it in the comments.
Yasmin Shiraz is a Screenwriter and TV producer who has worked for Lifetime, A&E, Bravo and PBS. She’s a best selling author of more than 11 titles and the founder of Black TV Film Crew. She is the CEO of Still Eye Rise Media.