It might be tempting to stay on coronavirus watch 24/7 while you quarantine, but that would make the time go slowly—and add to any anxiety that you already have. Take a moment to feed your creativity instead, and enjoy some movies and television shows that tap into your love for beauty.
While outstanding short films like Black Girl Church and Skin are still making their way around the festival circuit (which we’ll be back to enjoying when COVID-19 subsides), there are plenty of other movies, shows and shorts that highlight why we get so worked up about our hair and makeup.
Check out our mix of throwbacks and new beauty-focused shows and movies that you should be adding to your queue this week.
Originally aired on BBC, Glow Up follows ten aspiring makeup artists as they compete to become Britain’s next makeup star. The series is filled with editorial, celebrity and red-carpet challenges. And like any reality competition, there’s always some drama. Think America’s Next Top Model meets the artistry of makeup. Catch season one on bbc.co.uk or on Netflix.
Black Girl Beauty
If you know journalist and host Gia Peppers, then her presence should be enough for you to want to tune in to Black Girl Beauty. Hosted by Peppers, the six-episode series on VH1 YouTube feels like sitting around the table with your best girlfriends talking about your hair, makeup and skin care experiences. With guests such as Amara La Negra, René Askew and beauty journalist Julee Wilson, it’s a fun dive into what beauty means to Black women on an individual level with no pretenses. Check out season one on YouTube.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
While charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent must come together in the best way in order to crown the next drag superstar, a good beat will also go a long way. There’s a lot to be learned from drag queens when it comes to getting creative with makeup, which is why RuPaul’s Drag Race remains one of my favorite beauty (and talent) competitions. Season 12 is currently airing on VH1 Friday nights at 8 p.m. You can also catch full episodes and clips on vh1.com.
‘You Can Touch My Hair,’ a Short Film
During the summer of 2013, un-ruly held a public art exhibit and released a film both titled You Can Touch My Hair, a project focused on how the unhealthy fascination with Black hair leads to a violation of the Black body. Black women, including historian Michaela Angela Davis, share their stories of hair molestation and otherness in this relatable and emotional piece. You can watch the nine-minute short at un-ruly.com.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
Self Made, which chronicles the life of hair industry mogul Madam C.J. Walker, is a complete departure from your typical biopic. With interstitials, fantasy elements and magic surrealism, it puts a modern spin on the biopic storytelling. While some viewers were critical of the Hollywood embellishments that were added to Walker’s story, we were impressed with creator Nicole Jefferson Asher’s ability to tell that story in such a fresh and unique way. Self Made season one is currently available on Netflix.
This WE TV throwback that showcases celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble and her hilariously dramatic salon staff is a gem that you need to see. Though the show stopped airing in 2017, the episodes are just as sensational and entertaining as they were when they first dropped. It’s a fun guilty pleasure to binge on when you need a break from all the seriousness of the news. Check out past seasons on YouTube or Amazon Prime.
The Glam Gap
Last fall BET premiered its digital series The Glam Gap, focusing on different topics in the beauty industry and how they pertain to the Black community. Episodes vary in topic from the lack of inclusivity in the market to how Black women overindex in spending on beauty and hair versus their White counterparts. The short docuseries mixes expert commentary with statistics for thought-provoking episodes that make you come back for more. Check out episodes on bet.com and YouTube.
Nappily Ever After
Hyperbolic stereotypes aside, Nappily Ever After is a sweet little movie about how hair can have more control over our lives than it should. Even if we can’t relate to the story, we all understand the importance of hair in the Black community, and how it has represented a need to conform and to break away from that conformity. Sanaa Lathan and her buzz cut are absolutely stunning in this film, currently available on Netflix.
We’re adding Misbehaviour to the list because we’re running to theaters to see this the moment social distancing is a wrap. Released in the UK earlier this month, the film tells the story leading up to the crowning of the first Black Miss World, Jennifer Hosten. It might be a stretch to say that this is a beauty-inspired film given the storyline about feminism, racism, colorism and the other serious elements intertwined in the tale. But we can’t overlook the beauty pageantry arc. And it’s poised to be one of the best movies we watch this year so we’re all in when it becomes available again.