Weave Gotta Talk

One of the things I miss most from my childhood is that the girls were real.  Real breasts and butts.  Real eye lashes.  And real hair (not withstanding some braid styles).  But since the days when KRS 1, Tupac, Biggie and The Pharcyde all got played on the radio within the same hour, and BET had grown-ups as hosts and program directors (Donnie Simpson has to be turning over in his grave.  What’s that?  He’s still alive?  My apologies.), culture and society have shifted in some very stark, dramatic ways.  One of the most grave changes in this writer’s mind has been what seems like the nearly global acceptance of hair weaves as “a good look.” 

I hate hair weaves.  Aside from being a clear physical indicator of how acceptable it has become to be fake, many of them simply look ridiculous.  I know women who earn 6 figures, own real estate, have graduate degrees, and still rock weaves that look like preschoolers made them. In addition, they just scream, “I HATE MYSELF AND ALL THINGS BLAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!”  Keep it real.  Have you ever met a proud, pro-Black chick, who knew her history, quoted Sojourner and Ida B., AND rocked a blonde weave?  I can’t imagine Erykah Badu negotiating with a Korean woman over a bag of Hawaiian Silky.  Wait.  Let me close my eyes.  Nope, don’t see it.

The blame for weaves could legitimately go to European beauty standards, or to Black men who favor women with the “mixed” look, but a large portion of the blame must be assigned to low self-esteem, a low self-concept, and a desire to remove the “African” in African American.  And this is partially why I don’t think Black women have come up as much as they should–they have to set some standards.  Black women have to get to a point where they say emphatically, this is what I won’t accept in a man, and I will do nothing more than be myself to get one.  A wise woman once said to me, “whatever a woman does to get a man is the same thing she will have to do to keep him.”  She was pointing out how, when she met her husband, she wore no make up and wore clothes that fully covered her body.  They are still together, and are paragons of happiness and success.

Feel free to take or leave this advice.  In fact, let’s make it a competition.  You teach your daughter to try to look like the women on TV, to wear tons of make up, to sport push up bras and blouses that reveal so much cleavage that her nipples may as well be on sale, and of course, to wear a gorgeous, lustrous, thick, horsey weave.  I’m gonna teach my daughter to do the diametric opposite.  We’ll check back in 20 years to see who won.

18 thoughts on “Weave Gotta Talk

  1. Well..hold on..you DO know that when Erykah first came out that those locs were a wig, right? And in the 70s practically everyone had a fro…were they all down for the cause?

    BTW: I still haven’t seen “Good Hair”…

    About 9 months ago after years of wearing a perm, a few months of braids (with extensions), I chopped off my perm and started sporting a TWA (teeny weeny afro…for those not in the know)….crazy, I was just talking to my 70 year old white godmother about this last night…anyhow, it wasn’t because I suddenly felt the need to be “more black”, to me its just hair, an accessory to be styled the way I feel it should (or rather the way it can be in the limited amount of time I give myself to do something to it in the AM) and since my mom started perming it when I was young for years I just dreaded the transition from perm to no perm. After getting over my personal issues with braids and doing the big chop, right now I’m just playing around with a new style and thing is I might slap a $6 perm on it next month, if I catch the feeling.

    I see a difference (as you noted) between braids with extensions and weave..but that’s me (well, us). I also wouldn’t wear a wig (even if it was locs or a fro) because that’s just not how I roll. Sure my hair is a statement about how I feel about myself because if I go around looking crazy then maybe I don’t have the highest self-esteem. BUT my point is, hair does not mean the same thing to everyone (not EVERY girl on TopModel boohoos when their long locs are cut off). SURE for some black women its about rejecting “nappy”, its about conforming to what we are TOLD and shown is beautiful and low self-esteem (its surprising how many grown @ss women come up to tell me how brave I was to cut my perm off..smh) but to some of us…maaaannn, its just hair.

    Kickin’ Afrolistics!

  2. “…but to some of us…maaaannn, its just hair.”

    Of course I have no statistical data to support this, but my guess is that you guys are in the minority. I don’t doubt your existence, but I think for most sista’s it’s an esteem/rejection of self thing (and who’d ever come right out and admit that they’re dealing with those issues?? I wouldn’t, and I wrote it!). My ultimate goal is to point out that we still have some serious issues to deal with.

    A simple quiz to determine the acceptability of ones weave should be this:

    1. Does it look ridiculous, as in, MOST sane people would not conduct business with it on their heads (like the chicks in the blog).

    2. Would you be physically ok without it, meaning, you could rock your own crop and look pretty much the same? If a sista has cancer or lupus or some other ailment, then it’s understandable, other than that, be happy to be nappy!!

    3. Do you generally dislike your African features, as well as other “Black stuff” (e.g., reading about Black topics, learning about Black history, supporting Black causes, etc.)?

    If the answer is “yes” to any of these, one should probably not rock a weave.

    And though I’m not sure yet if it either proves or disproves my point (could it be both?), I have heard about Erykah’s fake natural styles. Let the Bag Lady do her thang.

  3. I have to agree with Regina. I don’t think that the majority of black women wear weaves because of a secret self-hatred or low self esteem. Well, I’ll just say the majority of black women that I know and I keep confident, independent, strong black women around me. Personally, I get bored with style and often change my look. I rock weaves, twists, i prefer braids, and I can wear my own hair relaxed straight or braided. yesterday I even wore an African headwrap to a bar in Downtown LA just because. I can totally agree with you when it comes to women rockin’ the thick head full of blond weave. Not everyone can wear it like Beyonce, and most of the time she looks ridiculous! However, I think it’s a little bit excessive to say that when we wear weaves that it’s because we don’t love ourselves. Women in Nigeria (my roots) have been wearing wigs, weaves and ‘fros for forever now. Black women are just blessed to be able to have so many options for expressing ourselves. “It’s just hair!”

  4. Aside from the catchy title – this is a really good post. As a black woman, I guess I should not down the weave but, I hate them. I have never worn a weave, and never plan to. And Lord…I hope my darling daughter never thinks she needs to wear one either. The weave issue seems to strike a cord in many women (especially black ladies). But to me, if you have some kind of hair on your head, why do you need a weave? I hate hearing the argument of versatility – because, the fact of the matter is black women have the most versatile hair ever. Just be happy with what you have. I can seriouly see myself talk more about this topic, but why? Weaves suck!

  5. Of course, if one is a die hard weave connoiseur then I wouldn’t expect to change or make a dent in their opinion. But likewise, the following set of propositions seem to be a “no brainer”:

    A. European beauty standards are the real or imagined standard for most women
    B. Black women have a history of trying to conform to that standard, undoubtedly due to social domination and psychological pressure (e.g. straightening combs, perms, skin bleaching creams, and now, weaves)
    C. People who are proud of and happy with how they look don’t make efforts to look like other people, especially the very people who dominated and pressured them historically (e.g. colored contact lenses, blonde hair dying, and again, weaves)

    Again, it seems pretty straighforward and simple to me, but I realize that 1, this will be hard to admit for most people (for instance, I have some big ass lips. Many women have been attracted to them, and many people have made fun of them. Either way, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some issues due to them).

    And two, for us to even come to terms with it means that we would have to be aware of the greater historical, social, and psychological forces and how they have operated for centuries. Black folks, sadly, aint awake like that. Shiiiiiiitttt, I know maybe 10 Black people who could accurately expound on it, and my wife and Sundjata are two of them!!!

    • Ok…super fresh from watching “Good Hair” last night…my initial response…whoa? (with a little Joey Lawrence on it)

      Ok so some brothers in the barbershop got PRETTY amped about not being able to put their hands through a black woman’s hair as being (at least one) reason to date white women (assuming this particular white women don’t have weave too) because there is less intimacy and Chris even went there and said…hey, maybe we can blame that lack of intimacy because a black man can’t run his hands through a black woman’s hair as being part of the reason why the black family has fallen apart…whoa. Then the terms “economic retardation”, “economic exploitation”, a permed up Al noting that if we can’t control an industry that’s as close to us as black hair…then what can we do about other things basically? Wow.

      So, ok ok ok ok, hair and how we wear it has numerous implications and impact on our society and culture as a whole…sadly. I was not trying to deny this in anyway with my previous comment but only to say what I said and to some it really is just hair…its ok, I’m used to being a minority within a minority. But as Traci Thoms noted (and I paraphrase…sorta..because I don’t remember exactly what she said)….for me to keep my hair the same texture as it grows out of my head to be considered a revolutionary act is pretty dang ridiculous. Bill Maher (who has dated a weaved up sister or two) said to Chris that after watching “Good Hair” whenever he sees a black person with straight hair now all he can think of is pain. Wow…that may be about right. At the same time…the white dude getting Botox and Restylne injected into his face before performing in the Bronner Bros. hair show and feeling like he’d gotten “stung by thousands of bees” didn’t leave me with an image of spa massages and facials (the other hair stylist Derek, who can be seen on Housewives of ATL brought us that).

      Yes, your questions are ones that one should ponder and surely we all have stuff we’ve dealt with because NONE of us was above a good teasing. I’m dark skinned with a light skinned older sister so you can imagine what I heard. Most of her friends didn’t even know my name I was just “Black Sonya” to many. Thank goodness I didn’t go sit in a tub a bleach or anything (yea, I’ve known someone that’s done that)…but this does further the theory (which remains so until its accepted, right?) that the world is FULL of people running around with unresolved mental issues that they pass on to their children…until these things are addressed they will continue to manifest themselves in 3 year olds getting perms and 43 year olds getting Botox. smh…the sickness is deep.

  6. I got my first perm before I was ten from an aunt who thought it would be a good idea if we all got one. I made the decision in high school to stop using perms, cut out the rest and was rid of all the chemicals before the end of my senior year. I’ve had braids, ponytails, pieces glued in, tried a weave a few times, and even wore a wig (to make me look older for a job interview). It wasn’t for me. I’m not a high maintenance type of woman. I don’t want to have to worry about someone touching my tracks and finding out “my secret.” I want my husband to be able to pull my hair if he feels so inclined without having to wonder if it is going to come off. I want to be able to go swimming when I want. I could go on, but I won’t. It’s just not me. Now I like to spend money, but can’t see myself shelling out the money black women will pay to get their hair done. My mother is one such woman. She pays so much money for “Indian” hair units dyed blonde. We couldn’t be more opposite in terms of hair. As far as my own hair, I go between straightening my hair and wearing it natural. In fact, I just cut it–lots of it.

    Unfortunately, I do think a lot of Black women feel that the hair they buy makes them more beautiful than the hair they already have…and it starts young. I work at a middle school and amazingly, a lot of the girls do wear their hair naturally. Now this is partly because of choice, but also because of their economic situations. Anyhow, every now and then one will come with some outrageous weave and I think to myself, “Who the hell let you do that?” I talk to the girls all the time about beauty, pride, and self-esteem. However, they are so impressionable and so starved for acceptance and love that some will do anything to attract members of the opposite sex, many of whom are into girls with long hair, and that’s if they even like Black girls. Women definitely are a large part of the problem and should set standards, but it is not easy to consistently be rejected by the men who are supposed to struggle, fight, and persevere with us; love, honor, and cherish us. How many Black men are guilty of lusting after and actively seeking out women who have long hair? When it comes down to it, Black men and Black women have got to be down for one another. We are all we’ve got!

  7. I’ve only had a few tracks put in twice and both times it was so I could have some color in my hair since I dyed part of my hair once before and it was not a good long-term idea. Do I dislike the idea of it, not necessarily. I dislike that women try to act like the hair they bought was God-given. If I alter myself then I’m upfront about it. When I braid my hair up it’s out of pure convenience and laziness. I don’t have the money to get my hair professionally done on a regular basis and I have limited skills when it comes to hair maintenance. All I want is for my hair to look neat and not go broke while doing it.

  8. Well I personally can only speak for myself ,i do indeed wear weaves not outerspace looking ones like the ones above lol but I also rock other styles that I think look cute I just started wearing weaves and my hair has grown about six inches already I think when I go back I just might wear my own hair do another stereotype black girls/women dont normally have long hair lol well my mother rocked afros and was a self proclaimed panther rip but I still would not sport one cuz for me its not cute on myself I have seen some women it does look good on CASE IN POINT you show me an ugly pair of jeans and say if you wear these it shows your proud to be black non conforming ect.ill laugh and tell you no I wear what I like
    And I dont have to prove what I already know love peace and hair grease


  9. Pingback: Weave Got To Talk | Merc Xue

  10. Wow. We still think like this in this day and age? I mean really …self loathing though? Have we every tried for once to just view African American women as well as uuum *cough cough* “American”???! Because I mean after all American women of all colors change their hair color, lengthen it, shorten it, add chemicals to change the texture etc. But somehow it’s morally wrong for black women to because we’re *cocks head to the side* of African descent? Ooooh nooo no no no we’re not about to make everything other than afros a sin -____- Yes those pics you have look utterly atrocious but there are alooot of nice weaves and natural looking ones like *ahem* Ms. Eryka Badu. I do encourage women to stay away from relaxers and excessive weave using but that doesn’t mean these acts should be exiled. And although out history should be remembered and honored, we shouldn’t forget that people fought for us to be seen equal in America …not Africa.. America. This means I am an American who just so happens to be black. This means that if White Becky isn’t being chewed out for using a curly perm, than I shouldn’t either with whatever I want to do with my head. [Rant over] chow!

  11. I agree with Twigs on this one. I am a black woman and I love my color and am NOT ashamed. I grew up with a hair stylist as a mother and I have had every color, texture, weave and wigs created and let’s get it understood, there is no self hate here. I don’t understand why we as black women are unable to be free to do what we please to our hair without being judged by other sistas for not looking “black enough”. I Love hair weaves and wigs. If I feel like rocking a curly afro one week and look like Beyonce the next, I will. To me it seems like some of the “natural” girls hate on the sistas who decide not to be. It is a choice and as free individuals we can choose to look how we like. Every time I see a “self hate” tag, it’s a black woman with a weave and contacts. I wear both and I love myself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may not like her weave but she may not like your dreds. Hair weave, color, wigs, make-up etc are accessories. If you do them right, they look nice, if they are overdone or not done correctly, they look horrible…

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