The Vagenda

Me and My Weave

I was 20 years old when I got my first weave. I’ve always used hair extensions, since I was a little girl. I’d have my hair braided into extensions and wear my hair in long braids. The weave I got was sewn into most of my hair and I’d used my own relaxed hair to cover the tracks so you couldn’t see where it was sewn in.
I’d love to be able to wear my hair in its natural afro state but for several reasons I don’t. Firstly, I’d have to learn how to maintain an afro. Secondly, I’d have to cut all my natural hair off again and start again as all my natural hair is chemically straightened using a relaxer. Thirdly, I just don’t have the confidence to wear my hair naturally yet, not just in an afro but without added volume or length.
When I was in school sometimes other black girls would tease me about my hair, which had been wrecked by relaxers and hair dying. It wasn’t long and I’d sometimes not relax it in ample time so it’d be half afro and half relaxed. They’d often call me ‘Picky head’ to insult me, which is sad because they had the same kind of afro hair I had. I guess it was externalised self hate of sorts.
I started secondary school in 1997 and finished in 2002 and decided to pursue my A-levels in college. I needed a fresh start. My grandparents are from Africa and most of the other black girls I schooled with were West Indian, originally from the Caribbean. So there was already a rivalry, a bit like Indians and Pakistanis. We look slightly different to each other too, though I am mostly assumed to be West Indian by Africans and West Indians. Back then some West Indians I schooled with, not all, mind, saw me and other Africans as primitive and less attractive than themselves and would use racist taunts on me. I got called ‘Rubber lips’ or ‘Picky head’ (as well as some fat insults), they would mock racial characteristics of mine which they had too. Back then the least African a black person looked was seen as better, I guess.
I had low self esteem for many years, I now live with body dysmorphia which has gotten better with therapy but I am still very into appearance. I guess I like to be considered attractive and I feel more attractive wearing a wig or weave, which is a shame because it is not my natural state. I guess as someone who has body dysmorphia I worry I’ll get less male attention if I am without a wig/weave and sometimes I need male attention to not feel down about my appearance. 
I like to stand out but I like to blend it at the same time, and will get questions about my hair from strangers, asking whether it’s natural. I did some studying in Romania when at university and every second person stopped me in the street to ask why my hair wasn’t curly. I was wearing a light brown/dark blonde whole head weave at the time and it’d be the same here if I wore an afro. Ever since my hair fell out and I was teased about it I’ve been shy of it and so only my hairdresser or immediate family have seen me without a wig, except in one photo I posted online. No boyfriend has ever seen me without fake hair. I love the Kardashians and how they’ve made long hair into a brand so they inspire my look now. The notion of beauty has changed because of them, they’re more exotic looking, much more similar to me than famous women before them, more curvy and more non European looking to be honest.
Summer 2007 is the only time I haven’t worn any hair extensions/wigs/weaves since I turned 20 in July 2006. And the only reason for that is; I was saving up to go to Australia. Just before I went to Australia, I got a weave, this time a whole head weave so not even my own hair was visible. I got it cut into the style of the Rihanna bob, seen in her video ‘Umbrella’.
Since 2009, though, I have liked giving my hair volume and length, so underneath wigs or weaves I often stuff fake hair to create volume as hairspray can only do so much.
I like buying wigs and going wig shopping and will probably continue to wear weaves and wigs until my hair is at a length I like. It’s currently just at the base of my neck but when chemically relaxed it’s very fine and unable to be volumised. My hair is also brown, I love jet black hair so buy jet black wigs, although I own one honey blonde one that I rarely wear. I think I feel more feminine in my wigs or weaves, knowing I have this body of hair gives me a lot of confidence. Having a weave makes me feel more feminine. I’ve never been comfortable with my natural hair, and don’t get me wrong, I love the look or I wouldn’t be doing it, but this is quite heavy stuff that I’m putting on my head. I just wish that I could wear my own hair out, but I’m always going to be paranoid about people making fun of it.  
- JK

6 thoughts on “Me and My Weave

  1. visit africa there are women who still don’t wear make up mostly black generation X and Y. Women shave their heads to make a fashion statement. Natural beauty means no wigs. Short hair is a requirement before highschool. The numbers are dwindling (the power of Beyonce and Rihanna) but it’s a known fact. Weaves ruin hair sooner or later we all cut it and start over keep it natural like it’s suppoed to be but by then it’s too late. I hope you realise it too soon.

  2. I appreciate your honesty but wish you could love yourself as you are, and not have to put chemicals on your hair that may have untold health implications or wear wigs (are they uncomfy or inconvenient?) to feel beautiful. I believe you are beautiful – on the inside – and as a living, working human body and that is far more important.

  3. This just makes me sad. As a fashion statement one should be able to do their hair as they want. Hair for black women has become a source of shame and a means for other people to degrade them for being different. Its true that black people have the most unique hair on the planet, I believe that is an amazing thing. I think the movement back to Natural Hair is a big and important step in gaining back the lost dignity and pride that black people have experienced. It’s a hard journey, but only because the knowledge of how to take care of black hair has been lost. It has been twisted into blow outs, and anti-nap products. I have been chemical and relaxer free since 2008. Its hard to fit into the culture, and my hair does not fit into corporate ideals, but its beautiful and zealous. The big issue is that the world needs to stop shaming women for how they look, and to stop telling black people the way they are made is in defiance of everything natural. I think you should watch the movie ‘Good Hair’ if you have not seen it already. Then check out some ‘going natural’ videos on youtube. I’m not saying that you should throw caution to the wind and break into an afro, but maybe seeing how others delight in what they were given by birth might make it easier for you to heal from the hurtful comments you experienced as a child.

  4. Thank you JK for your honesty and sharing your journey with us. Like E Brewin, I wish you could feel beautiful enough as you are, but as a black woman know that hair and its state is a very emotive issue. Good luck on your journey and hopefully one day you will feel confident enough to embrace your natural hair.

    (Vagenda- you are spoiling us with two black hair posts in one day- maybe spread them out a bit more next time? Or have more posts like this? Good work though!)

  5. I once convinced my Ghanaian colleague to wear her hair natural for a few months. It was a gorgeous, beautiful afro that she accessorized with headbands and wrap around turban type scarves. She looked amazing, but was very paranoid of people touching her hair as so many people plunged their fingers in without even asking. I could understand when she went back to her weave.

    I have never viewed a woman with an afro as ugly, I think it’s a beautiful look. I find it horrid to think that so many women believe their natural hair to be ugly and shameful. I really hope that you have people in your life who tell you that no matter what your hair looks like, you are beautiful.