Written Jan 2015, rediscovered and published May 2018
I have been wondering lately about weaves.
Why do we as a group feel compelled to wear “hair hats”? Who taught us that our afro textured hair wasnt good enough as is to be worn in public. Why do many of us not “feel beautiful” unless we had an artificial hair covering on our scalp?
These are things that we never think about. For many of us, we grew into perms and weaves and went with the flow because it just “is” but do we ever stop to wonder why? What is so wrong with wearing our own afro textured hair without donations from the factory, a religious worshipper in India, a goat or a yak?
Many people defend weaves by saying that “other ethnicities” wear weaves too but lets be honest for a moment, which other ethnicity wears weaves religiously as a rite of passage the way afro descendants do?
An even more worrisome trend is one within the so called natural communty. A trend in which we sew in artificial hair or crotchet it in, in the name of protective styling. It is worrisome because the natural hair community claims to have come a step further in accepting their afro textures by rejecting chemical relaxers and straighteners.
How accepting of one’s afro hair/texture can one claim to be if that hair is always covered up under artificial sew ins and crocheted hair?
So, I’v heard we are protecting our hair from “winter, dry weather, harmattan, manipulation” etc so it can grow. Ok, let’s agree for the sake of argument that afro hair needs protecting. There are many hair styles that can equally “protect” the hair; afro puff, corn rows, flat twists are examples of styles that keep the hair tucked away from manipulation without requiring the addition of artificial hair extensions. Why do most people choose “hair hats” instead?
Is it a return to the comfort of what’s familiar from the perm days or is it a reflection of the fact that people have not accepted the afro textured hair and we still dont “feel beautiful” in it. Some say, they wear weaves because they are convenient and low maintenance. In fact thats NOT true because wearing “good weaves” require daily styling, flat ironing and other maintenance that extension free natural styles like twists and corn rows do not require therefore I consider that an invalid excuse.
Whatever reasons we have for clinging to and loving our weaves. We ought to be honest with ourselves. Let’s not call it protective styling – because there are other ways of “protective styling” hair without artificial hair. Let’s wonder what it means for us and upcoming generations of girls who will be unable to “feel beautiful” without artificial hair.