I am in no way trying to trample on black women who regularly wear weaves/extensions/wigs but instead to stress the importance of us as a community to be more acceptant and aware of our natural beauty that comes from our hair and skin colour, and show the world that we don’t need to conform to the Eurocentric standards of beauty to make it in life.
Want for change
A few months ago I made a conscious decision to say goodbye to weaves&co and to embrace my natural hair more, somewhat like Yaya Dacosta and Teyonah Parris; styling it in various ways. After learning more about my West African roots and the slave trade that disrupted black history, I became more and more desensitised to the false image I was portraying with straight weaves and extensions down to my back. It dawned on me that spending £100s on hair, that was not my own, was an opportunity cost that merited nothing than to make me feel that I looked better or more accepted in society with my long straight weaves. I had to pray oftentimes to God regarding my hair and I believe he opened my eyes and let me know that my natural hair is beautiful and it was sufficient. I felt that I was insulting God by relying too much on weaves and hiding my natural hair. Just like spending your time and effort to sew a dress for a friend, wouldn’t you be hurt and insulted if s/he were to alter it completely, as if to say your hard work was not good enough?
Recently Solange took to Twitter to talk about her natural hair and stated that her hair is not important and that she doesn’t encourage “it to be important” to others either. However I would have to disagree and say that for black women, due to historical events, hair should be very important because of the deep rooted damage it has done to many of us. Our wonderful kinks and curls gets the world wondering with awe of our rich Afro Caribbean roots and culture that we should not be ashamed of. How the men and ladies of the 50s and 60s embraced their afros portrayed a significant defiance to the repressive attitude the white man forced upon blacks over the decades past. I did not want to fall prey to a situation where a man [potential husband] would fall accustomed to the weaves and extensions I would wear, and then when it came to taking it off and showing my natural hair would then feel some type of way. Just imagine your loved one saying to you “Oh honey, when are you going to put back your weave?” Say what? No thanks.
“Just another topic used to divide black women”
No! How could it ever been seen as wrong to advocate natural hair amongst our fellow black sisters? Expressing my admiration for a black woman’s natural hair gives her that slight added strength in herself, that the kinks and curls that God blessed her with is wonderful. Just as the incredible Kathleen Cleaver said:
“All of us were born with our hair like this, and we just wear it like this because it’s natural.
The reason for it, you might say, is like a new awareness among Black people
that their own natural physical appearance is beautiful and is pleasing to them.”
During the time of the civil rights movements, black people were more united than ever since there was a growingly strong awareness of their worth, advocated through the voices of prominent female civil rights activists such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis, and amongst others. A time when black people loved and respected one another. Our identity does not lie within the weaves and extensions that we wear but in the texture that grows out from our blesséd roots.
“Wearing weave just makes life easier”
That is the truth, but why can’t we enjoy the time it takes to style our hair, after all there are natural protective hairstyles that can be done on individuals to last them for more than a week. Just as people leave extra time to do their makeup, why can’t it be the same for doing our hair? Remember God made no mistake in designing the type of hair everyone has, therefore we need to be more acceptant and cherish our own hair more. Yes, for some, kinky curly can be very high maintenance, but today we are fortunate for the numerous amount of information and products available to help us look after our hair and make styling it more manageable.
“Wearing weave is a great protective style that allows my hair to grow”
Having worn weaves for five years, and for over six months now styling just my natural hair, I can truly say that my hair is more thicker and has grown much quicker than the time I was wearing weaves and extensions. I liken my hair to a plant that requires the sun, water, and fertilisers to grow properly. When I had a weave on I couldn’t moisturise my hair everyday with water and oils nor was my hair getting nutrients from the sun (Vitamin D) because it was covered up by the weave tracks.
Weave = Self Hatred?
I do not know the minds of every black female who chooses to get a relaxer or wear weaves and extensions, however we need to really dig deep as to why we need to do so in the first place. Before, if I had an interview and the current state of my hair was weave/extension free, I would automatically think to put in a weave or extensions in order to look more “presentable”. When wearing my weaves, I would exclaim how much I loved my cultural background and could talk about my Igbo roots with such pride. Yet in being real to myself I knew that when it came to my hair I was trying to fit into a standard that was not designed for me by God. Make no mistake that there is an underlying propaganda in feature films, and especially in advertisements that the fairer and straighter, the better. Of all the hair advertisements constantly broadcasted here in the UK, it is a shame that no hair company, bar Dove (somewhat) feels the need to advertise their products being used on afro kinky hair – Where’s the diversity in that? From the time I first started watching television to now, all I saw was women with straight or wavy hair promoting the products as if to say those were the only hair types in the world. For any young girl growing up, her mind would be quickly made up to think that having naturally curly kinky hair is simply not conducive or convenient. We need to stop conditioning our minds, our children’s mind, which in turn will have an impact on their children’s minds, in believing that straight hair is more beautiful or more “professional” than afro/ curly hair.
In conclusion this is an issue that needs to be discussed more and more until every woman with curly hair, not just black women, can be truly content with their natural texture, because sadly when I travel through London I can only spot one female, if any, rocking her natural hair. It has come to a point that when me and my sister travel together and we see a young lady rocking her natural hair we almost feel propelled to hi-five her. Please take note that I am in no way passing judgement on anyone who chooses to wear weaves/wigs/extensions, but instead want to share my opinion on how wonderful natural hair is, for all the negative messages that suggest otherwise.