The question is a respectful one for Black women with fake hair. What’s up with that? I ask the question simply because I cannot understand (perhaps as a man) what is the preoccupation with the wigs, weaves, and extensions. Especially when it is a $500 million industry in which we have little or no way of drawing from financially.
It is my simple analysis that there is no other race of women who spend as much on their hair as Black women do. I imagine that most white and Asian women make do with a little shampoo and a blow dry. I simply cannot understand why, especially as an impoverished community, it would seem to be easier for some folks to spend $70 on hair rather than at the grocery store or the market.
I believe that I can already hear the sisters screaming that it is about style, and what’s wrong with looking nice? Well, let me be the first to burst your bubble since your man, mother, child or best friend may not be as forthcoming with the truth; it looks bad!
And neither is anyone convinced that it is your hair.
And the most common reason why it looks bad is because it is cheap, lacks proper care, and as a friend of mine says, some folks put Vaseline in it to give it a shine. I know this is also because the more expensive weaves, as worn by Tyra Banks, Beyonce and other well-to-do Black folks, can cost thousands of dollars, and they can afford the maintenance.
But that is not the whole issue. I believe that the preoccupation with fake hair has to do with deeper psychological issues. Many Black women would tell you about having their head locked between their mother or grandmother’s legs while she pulled and tugged at the kink and the child was either screaming or having a painful expression on her face. And sometimes if you did not keep quiet it was licks with the same comb.
I also grew up in a time and place where Black mothers gave up and brought out the hot comb. The process was as close to torture as you could get with the comb placed on a fire, the hair well greased, and you could literally hear the frying sound. Needless to say, many barely survived with burns on their scalp, ears and forehead. The end result, nevertheless, was hair that was much easier to comb, i.e. until the next torture session.
Then came the chemicals which were just as deadly or even more deadly than the hot comb. And I know this because I saw Chris Rock’s movie, ‘Hair’, which showed a Coke can literally dissolve/disintegrate in that hair straightener. I do not know if anyone might have assessed the damage from that stuff seeping into the scalps of Black women and children, but perhaps someone should.
Add to that the many times that Black children have been called ‘picky’ head and the consequential damage to the child’s self-esteem.
As I indicated at the beginning of this article, my intent is not to belittle the Black woman, but rather to try to understand the motivation behind the fake hair. We are indeed a very pious community and if we believe that God made mankind in His own image and likeness then we should be proud of the kink in our hair.
It was not long ago that our own Maya Johnson described in this newspaper her own trials and tribulations with her hair. Her decision then was that she would pursue a natural look and, if I dare say so, she looks beautiful, which could be the same for so many others.