“Belle” Movie: A Lesson in Detangling Hair Captured on the Big Screen


Happy Friday! You may be looking for a movie for this weekend. I recommend “Belle”. If you haven’t seen this movie and plan to I must say that I discuss one or two clips of the movie in this post.

Although my husband loves action movies you know X-Men, Fast & Furious, The Avengers, Thor and the lot of them. You get the point. He will oblige my choices and attend movies with me even Period Flix. When I heard The “Belle” Movie was due to be released, I had it on my movie bucket list. This month, we had the pleasure of seeing “Belle”, a true story dated centuries ago.

Movie Synopsis:


This movie unveiled almost two and half centuries later…

This film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race* daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife, Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

The fundamental characteristics about Dido are the two most unique characteristics that I loved about Dido’s self discovery in this movie, her skin color and her hair.

My thoughts on Dido’s Skin…

“Dido”, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw was a mulatto* (her mother, a slave loved by her father, a british naval officer) had beautiful brown skin. It was the single most thing that separated her from her family. Dido was raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield and his wife who knew nothing about raising anything but a pure blood line. Dido Elizabeth Belle had a beautiful skin color but adopted the same perspective about her skin as others saw it. How do I know? There is a clip in the movie where Dido is sitting at her vanity table looking in the mirror in a desperate attempt to rub away her skin after being dejected because of its dark color. Her child companion was Mansfield’s other neice whom they were also raising, Elizabeth Murray played by Sarah Gadon. They were portrayed much like sisters as the inclination in the movie often was that the Uncle and Aunt tried as best as they could to raise the two girls as equal as much as possible to not show indifference between the girls. However, there were clear rules that separated the girls based on skin color and an outward face to Society that the Mansfield upheld in upper class Society. Dido was not permitted to dine with the rest of the family as Elizabeth did, but could meet them in the family room after dinner. The fundamental differences always came down to skin color.


My thoughts on Dido’s Hair…

First I must say that Dido hair was breathtaking. She had an overflow of natural curls. Nowadays, the natural hair community often refers to hair type by numeric alphabetical categories. Following this method, I would say her hair type was about a 3c.  Dido lacked any form of self-identity other than what was portrayed in art pieces (aside from the art piece above) hanging throughout the Mansfield home depicting the darker skinned as inferior painted smaller to its larger depicted pale skinned counterparts. It was a source of conflict for Dido who was trying to learn her “position” as she lived in a privileged home with a position higher than the household help. In this movie, Dido was in a precarious position as she did not have the proper guidance in her life to teach her how to manage her hair. Her care was left in the hands of a governess and housemaids who I would say least relatable.  A segment of the movie showcased Dido attempting to roughly comb through her hair just before bed. There was a display of frustration, struggle, and pain as she yanked through her hair in this movie. I myself could not help but wince with each tug. Dido was ignorant about the required care for her hair type as her hair was more delicate than her cousin who I would say had a hair type of 2. Dido’s hair required much gentler care, however, Dido did as her counterparts did which was comb her hair from root to tip. Hair will suffer breakage and much pain using this technique. In recent years, we have the fortune of easily accessing information through online resources where information is shared and there are store shelves with many products to ease the task. Centuries ago there was no hair typing by numbers and letters with how-to detangling techniques, lotions or potions, blogs, or youtube videos. When the family visited their vacation home, for the first time in Dido’s life, she had access to the next best relatable person, a negro housemaid on staff. The attending handmaid who was a youthful negro woman. Her name escapes me but in a clip she took notice of Dido struggling to free her comb from her hair.  I believe out of empathy, the handmade offered and nearly insisted on helping Dido who acted too proud to initially accept advice from a mere handmaid as if it were beneath her “position”. The handmaid instructed Dido to comb her hair from the ends first and working her way up to the root for comb free hair.  When Dido relented she found that the advice was most helpful.  I believe in this moment, the relationship between the two warmed.

Here she is…the beautiful Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the actress who played Dido Eliabeth Belle in the Belle Movie


I like to reference other sources for a full picture. I’m pulling authority from a Best Selling author, Professional Blogger, and Natural Hair lover in the natural hair community, Curly Nikki.

According to the Detangling Tips found on Curly Nikki’s Blog Dido Failed Detangling 101.

  • Wet and Condition Your Hair: There is no way of knowing this from the movie. But my guess is No.
  • Detangle in Sections: If my memory serves me correctly Dido’s hair appeared to be loosely parted down the middle, but no where near manageable to comb free even in just two sections
  • Use a proper comb or brush: Dido probably used a similar comb to that of her cousin, Elizabeth who had a different hair type (type 2) than she so I’d say, she was probably not using a wide toothed Comb
  • Start from the Ends and Work your way Up: Dido was attempting to start from the root and work her way down to the ends. This struggle was caught in a clip of this movie and the correction given to Dido by her handmaid 
  • Try Finger Detangling Before using a Brush or a Comb: Dido’s hair styling or hair care was not shown in this clip so there was no way of knowing if a hairstylist prepared her hair daily, however, Dido generally wore her hair in a high bun with spiral tendrils falling to her shoulders. Her hair would need to be taken down and finger detangled to remove entangled hair. If Dido did attempt to finger detangle, she may not have had severe tangling when attempting to use her comb. I’m basing this solely on the fact that she knew very little about detangling altogether
  • Detangling for styling and product distribution: Back then…Product Distribution? If there was any products, she was most likely using a product that was not suited for her specific hair type and that of her cousin’s. I don’t think so
  • Detangle before and after Shampoo: If Dido half way attempted to detangle before shampooing she may not have had as much difficulty after shampoo. Did they use Shampoo two and a half centuries ago? 
  • BE Gentle: Three Words: “Not” “At” “All” Dido yanked and yanked at her hair. This struggle caught the empathetic attention of her handmade

View Dido’s Thoughts!

Aren’t you glad nearly two and a half centuries later we’ve come this far as far as educating ourselves, learning ourselves and our hair? I am.  Have you seen “Belle”. What are your thoughts? Post your comments below.

I look forward to seeing Gugu on the Big Screen playing roles such as Dido. I give the movie 5 stars.

Natural Hair Beloved,


2 thoughts on ““Belle” Movie: A Lesson in Detangling Hair Captured on the Big Screen

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