I think I’ve made up my mind, for so long (since 2004) I’ve been seriously debating this issue internally and in the interim I’ve worn 3 weaves and tonnes of different textured and lengths of hair extensions. Are we black girls trying to look white when we put on hair extensions or are they really the famous excuse “protective styles”?
A lot of us black women advocate the wearing of weaves because we feel that it is our choice to wear them and also that it is glamorous and we have a right to look and feel glamorous too. We also would argue that we are not trying to look white but just enhancing our [African] beauty with a [Peruvian/ Brazilian/ Chinese] lace wig or weave, oh the irony. Now, I never ever wanted to be labelled as a hypocrite or judgmental because I’ve had a few weaves before (albeit reluctantly) but I desperately wanted to get to the bottom of this discussion and come to a place where my heart and mind were at rest about this weaving issue. I was not comfortable with the liberal stance of “do whatever you want to, it’s just hair” neither was I comfortable with the conservative stance of not installing extensions at all and weave shaming those that choose to.
I made up my mind in university that I don’t want to relax my natural hair again mainly because I wanted to be myself and to pursue healthy living but the ongoing debate of “to weave or not to weave” has always plagued me. Until last Monday evening, while channel surfing I ran across a local TV program targeted at black women and Ntsiki Mazwai was discussing what characteristics constitute an African woman with Puleng Mash-Spies (also known as our Black Barbie) and of course the topic of how we wear our hair came into the debate and then it hit me. I am not anti-extensions, I am anti-wearing extensions that don’t look like my real hair #eureka That’s it! And that probably explains why I never was fully comfortable in a straight weave *breathes a great sigh of relief*
Recently I had installed my second set of Marley crochet braids, which essentially is a form of a weave (just kinder to your hairline). Everyone was commenting that my hair looked great and it looked like my own, those comments enhanced the conflict in my mind because although it was great to get all that love, I wanted to appreciate and to be appreciated for my own God-given fine, thin, short natural hair. Or did I? No I actually I also liked the compliments when my hair was did, I mean who doesn’t? I realised at that point that my issue with extensions was mainly stemming from the fact that I had always associated them with trying to look white or trying to achieve the white standards of beauty but the Marley crochet braids were not that at all. So then I found my happy place when I realised that I actually am more at peace when I have extensions that resemble my own texture of hair than the dead straight or wavy extensions that look more “white”.
I do not think that all black girls that wear [Brazilian, Peruvian, Chinese etc.] weaves are trying to look white per se but the type of influence that the media has on us will subconsciously have us aspiring to a certain standard of beauty and as it stands currently it is the white standard of beauty; fair skin, straight blonde hair, blue eyes and the likes and we know this because it’s been our struggle for ever. We have made really great steps toward embracing our own African beauty, our skin colour our natural hair etc. and my personal conviction to continue embracing my African beauty is to choose to wear extensions that look like my own hair texture; kinky, curly and coily.