As of lately, as my audience has expanded beyond it’s core, whenever I post a picture, article, anything with or about weaves/wigs there is always a choir of “why wear weaves?” “why can’t you love yourself?” “she’s so ghetto with that weave” “weave wearing [insert curse word of choice].” Or whenever I happen to venture over to the dark side of conservative reporting where in the “post-racial” society of today, publications like Thought Catalog amongst others will publish narratives to seek to demean Black people, by informing us that “You cannot find Jordans, rims, weaves or Quick Trips in Ferguson, MO.” Because at the crust of the heartbreakingly tragic American story of Ferguson, weaves are an identifier only of Black women. And shall we talk about the incessant trolling of a few Black male internet personalities who coon through fits of soliloquies about the failed Black woman, forever mentioning the boundless weaves that she will sell her first-born for.
This is not really an issue over the right to wear weaves, as that definitely plays into the larger picture of the persistent attack at Black women regardless of hair choices. But allow me to simplify this for moment so we can attack this brick by brick.
Black women are not the only women who wear weaves. The weave business is fruitful and plenty because women of ALL ethnicities participate in the industry. Most of the highest grossing independent distributors are targeted at White women, hence the booming industry of clip-in extensions. There’s a reason Ulta, H&M, Target and Wal-Mart all carry various packages of weaves/extensions. Thin hair is not a symptom of any singular ethnicity. White, Hispanic, Persian, Chinese, purple, yellow and blue on any occasion have embraced the opportunity to make hair fuller, longer, shorter, curly or straight via weaves and extensions. The perpetuated ideal that weaves are for the “ghetto Black woman” has allowed for marketing schemes that often have many outside of the Black community paying extra for the illusion of higher quality hair extensions, when really they are the same grade of Chinese hair any middle (wo)man weave distributor is carrying. You call it extensions or clip-ins, throw it on a model of lesser melanin and suddenly it loses the negative stigma and stereotypes that are placed on Black women.
For whatever reason Black women have been forced to carry the burden of all Black women. So the women who choose to rob a beauty supply store, suddenly becomes the sensationalized story of Black women ruining their lives over weaves and cause for another crony to turn on his webcam and record a bombastic YouTube video about the “epidemic.” Because no White woman or woman of any other race/ethnicity has robbed a store that sold beauty supplies or maybe that just isn’t that interesting of a sensationalized news bit. The discussion around weaves is just a small bite of the mythical narratives that have been created as tools to shame Black women, because for whatever reason there is always a reason to blame us for someone else’s downfall but why must it be so serious?
When did women with over a certain touch of melanin and a certain twist of kink in her hair, become undeserving of enjoying the flexibility of diverse hair styles? Why does the desire to add length or fullness suddenly signal an affront to my sense of self? Even for those who install weaves, extensions or “units” for the ease of “manageability,” a classy way of saying you wanted to change-up your hair texture, what says that they are aspiring to doing anything other than enjoy the freedom of choice?