Over the years, I’ve had a variety of hairstyles including a myriad of braid styles, straight hair, pixie cuts and Amber Rose’s signature short, blonde hair.
I’ve always wanted to try out the weave, however, the only thing that stood in my way was the cost of getting the hair extensions and the cost of labour for installation. Prices for the hair extensions alone cost between R700 and R4600 (about $55 and $364), and I really didn’t want to part ways with so much money, considering that the hair is sourced for free.
Comedian Chris Rock showed the process of weave production on his popular hair documentary “Good Hair”. Indian hair is sourced from temples where devotees cut their hair as part of their worship to God. Hair traders then collect the hair, assemble it in factories and ship it off to various destinations across the world.
A friend of mine (nationality: Indian, just for context) watched the documentary, and suggested that it would be a great idea to grow his hair and give it to someone who wanted to make a weave out of it. I offered to be part of the experimentation because I could have a great looking weave at no cost, while having bragging rights about knowing the original owner of the hair I’m wearing on my head.
And so, the hair growth journey began.
It took 3 years for my friend to grow a thick, jet-black and long head of hair that would be guaranteed to give me a great weave. I was with him when he shaved it all off and gave it to me in a neat bunch.
When I held the hair in my hands, I admired the beauty of it and how it could dramatically change my look. Hair is a wonderful fashion accessory to play around with to create the look that you feel like having.
But then, I realized that black people were probably the only people who go to great lengths to wear hair that is completely different to their natural hair, most of the time, to adhere to the society’s standards of “good hair”, which is Caucasian straight and silky hair.
Sure, for some women, a weave or wig is just another hairstyle, but for others, it’s a guaranteed way to be accepted into a job because hair is neat and tidy (aka in close proximity to Caucasian hair which is the standard) and to be accepted as beautiful.
Would anyone be willing to take my coily, jet black hair to sew it into their natural hair to wear a beautiful afro? Well, 10 years ago, doing so would be unheard of, unless a hair manufacturer wanted to create wigs for a 60s-themed party, but in the latest black hair trends, more women are beginning to embrace afros and the real texture of black hair.
There are a lot more afro wigs and afro-inspired braid styles, and more women are opting for braiding their hair and wearing it natural without the damaging use of chemical relaxers.
I gave the hair back to my friend and thanked him for all his efforts. I don’t think I’ll be wearing a weave anytime soon, out of personal preference.
*image from Atlanta Black Star.