In the News| Who Is Hiding Under Your Weave?

by West Parsons on March 7, 2013 · 3 comments

in in the news

March is Women’s History Month, making it an opportune time to invite all ladies to please, PLEASE, come out from under your weave!

And if that automatically offends you, you are exactly who this article is meant for.

I am not judging you, calling you out or degrading your weave.

I’m simply trying to find out why you really have one and what it means to you.

So, let’s set some rules for this conversation: Let’s exclude all women who have suffered from a medical condition, disease or have lost their hair to no fault of their own. Let’s exclude women who are employed full time as super models, or have a full-time job on Broadway. Let’s exclude all women who say they have a weave as a protective style because they are growing out their hair or need to protect their hair for some reason.

Fair enough?

OK, let’s talk…

Statistic: Black women spend billions of dollars a year on hair products buying 70% of all wigs and extensions purchased in the United States. Weaves include but are not limited to, actual weaves, lace front wigs, regular wigs, weaves sewn onto a wig, clip-ins, sew-ins, glue-ins or anything that resembles or appears to be any of the aforementioned.

But this commentary arose not from those figures, but from my own 14-year-old daughter; who asked me several months ago: “Mom, can I get a weave?”

I politely answered: “Hell no! Why would you ask me that?”

To which she replied: “Why not? All my friends have one!”

And I couldn’t resist…

“If all your friends jumped out a window, would you do that too?!”

I was struggling to find the correct reaction to my only child, a beautiful girl with a full head of shoulder-length, unpermed hair asking me to pay for a weave so she could have longer hair.

I understood, I guess, but it bothered me, a lot. I don’t want my daughter to think she’s not pretty enough or she needs to be something she is not.

Has some teenage boy told her she would be prettier if her hair was longer, straighter, curlier? Is she feeling the pressure of the images of beauty in the media that suffocate her 24 hours a day? Can you feel my heart breaking?

Then, I realized something: Everywhere she looks in Atlanta, 9 out of 10 women have weaves. Teenage girls, their mothers, their grandmothers, their babysitters, their transgender cousin, their teachers, their principal, the cashier at Kroger, their favorite reality star, their favorite radio personality, their favorite singer, the lady who serves their lunch in the cafeteria and even the pastor’s wife.

It’s out of control! And the signal it’s sending throughout our entire community is that you need a weave to be beautiful and ultimately attract the man of your dreams.

Am I wrong?

Oh wait, right, it’s an accessory, a fashion statement like makeup, eyelashes and butt implants. You only wear it to enhance your look, to play with different styles, because you want to take a Zumba class twice a week and not mess up your hair. You have a weave because it’s fun.

BUT, you live in an apartment and can’t afford your bills and you pay weekly or maybe monthly for your weave while your real hair begs for air and your scalp is sending out smoke signals. Or maybe, you own your home, pay all your bills on time, but your weave gives you confidence and makes you feel prettier so you can keep your man happy and at home. Or just maybe, you don’t like how your own hair looks and a weave makes you look and more importantly, feel better.

(It doesn’t matter that your natural hairline now starts at your ear.)

Maybe it’s not as deep as I’m making it out to be – or maybe it’s deeper.


Do you think this is another case of the hair police on patrol or does she have legitimate claims?


Jessica March 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

I used to wear weaves all the time. If I wasn’t so lazy, I still would throw some in every now and then. I like the different looks that it gives me. When hair used to be just hair to me I would cut mine off just to grow it natural for a year and then relax it again. I think as naturals we can be a bit insensitive and harsh. I didn’t have a complex or wear weave because I was hiding something. I was taught to care for my hair at an early age. My mom allowed me to decide to get a relaxer when I was old enough to chose for myself. She also allowed me to cut my hair at an age she felt was old enough. I’m thankful for this. This is my fourth and final big chop. I glad to have the freedom to wear my hair (or someone else’s hair) how ever I want to. Great post and perspective!

Chantelle March 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I wore weaves for a while. Im mixed race witha white mother who struggled with my hair, as did I.

My experience is likely to be very unique to many black women, I am a mixed race girl from a village in England who has always lived in a white community and even now at university lives with only white people. I also know more mixed people than black!

The first time I got a weave was just because I wanted straight long hair like my white friends and like all the other girls I came into contact with. I was about 13 at the time, its important to note that it wasn’t only me doing doing negative things to my hair. My white friends dyed and redyed their hairand constantly flat ironed their hair to make it ‘better’. So for me the weave phase was just me being in those teenage years when I wanted to look my best and had a warped sense of beauty, which many girls have age 13-17.

I agree that we are highly influenced by our surroundings, I feel the only way we can encourage black/mixed race women to enjoy there natural hair is for them to see it more. Studies show the more familiar we are with something the more we like it!

Basically, all us natural girls need to show off our natural hair in order to encourage others to do the same!

RissaKatharine March 15, 2013 at 8:19 am

Your story is not an uncommon or unrelatable one. Young girl gets weaves and relaxers because of an ignorant mother who refuse to take the time to learn how to care for her hair. Simply writes it off as “difficult hair” and gives up. Common story among black AND mixed race women. In fact, that is where the story began for many Natural Hair bloggers and vloggers. It’s not insurmountable.

But, come on people, Corinne Bailey Rae? Need I really say more? If were to have seen a picture of her before I saw that fate changing Kimmaytube video, that would’ve been reason enough for me go curly!