I’ll never forget the night I was out on a date, walking in cute jeans rockin’ my bob wig with the wispy bangs as we walked downtown to hear friends play at a new jazz club. I had just taken out my microbraids, had my wig cap on underneath my “alternate do” until I could get an appointment to put my hair back in. Notice how I called “my hair.” I didn’t want to perm my real hair so the wig was the easiest choice to cover my eagle’s nest for the time being. The wind was blowing so I could only turn my head a certain way. He would make a cute joke, and I’d turn my heard towards him, then quickly back so I could make sure my hair was in place. The wind blew so hard one time, the wig shifted and I had to turn the other way to make sure my cap wasn’t showing. This was way before the clips and half wigs had made their debut into the hair stores. It was a mess. I can laugh now but back then I was trying to be cute fake giggling/grabbing my hair to make sure it didn’t fly off and I end up looking like I was getting ready to rob a bank.
My hair has always been up for discussion as I’ve tried one style before going long to short to permed then natural then to wigs to weave and back. Sometimes it’s fun, but other times it’s honestly been traumatic. Hair is a deeply personal part of a woman’s image and for Black women, even more so. Ask a black woman to go swimming and you’ll get two responses. “Sure, it’s easy exercise” or “Hell no, I’m not getting my hair wet!!!” Black women will also rip a woman to shreds based on her kitchen or lack of “combed-ness” when it’s natural. It’s the “pretty perm or die” chicks who would rather have their hair fall out due to disease than let it be chemical free vs. the “you can’t make me comb my hair like a white girl” natural crew. While we shouldn’t be defined by our hair, we can be wise with how we treat it.
The Grio just published an article about the dangers Black women risk when they continually pull and tug at their hair with braids, too tight weaves, and wigs. The article interviews a dermatologist, Dr. Phoenyx who says, “It’s easy to forget about maintaining your own hair when a weave or wig is on top,” says Dr. Phoenyx. “It’s about taking care of what’s underneath — now you have another layer of hair you pay attention to.”
It’s uncomfortable to see Naomi Campbell’s edges or what’s left, but she ain’t the only one. Black women continue to cover their heads to the detriment of nurturing their real hair. And this includes women with their own mane of healthy hair adding a piece to give themselves the length they see on many reality shows. What is it that makes us risk our own hair’s health, the best version of us we could give, to take a short cut and stress our “crown and glory?”
Maybe it’s self-inflicted pressure we put on ourselves to hide the stress and toll of not taking care of our spirit and mind. Maybe it’s the tendency to try to please the men in our lives. And add to that the fact that we neglect being physically fit to save the $60.00 we spent on the perm and cut and we have an unhealthy (but fly lookin’) woman.
I don’t like to wear wearing wigs because I feel like I’m giving a false presentation. Ask the many men who are sadly disappointed when I show up the next day after a date with my baby fro. But I do experiment from time to time with a new hairstyle when I’m in a bind or just want to exercise daily and and still need to look together for my auditions and work. Fake hair is an alternative and not the solution. I don’t know about everybody else, but when my hair is done and it’s not a question if it’s mine or some Indian lady from overseas, you can’t tell me nothin’. If there’s any reason to give up the weaves, and wigs though, it’s because we are always the best version of ourselves when we use what’s natural to showcase our beauty. So, the next time the wind is blowing, or your coworker suddenly fawns over your long tresses that appeared overnight, or your friend tells you to try a quick weave, remember your real hair is underneath just begging for a chance to shine. Tell your edges to thank me later.