As I was on the train on my way to the city the other day I was reading Facebook and checking out some post that spoke about the increase in weaves in the African American community. After reading this I looked around and counted 9 out of 10 high school girls were wearing hair weaves. I thought that this seemed a little high, so I said let me check the whole week. I checked from Monday to Friday and the final results were 7 out of 10 HS girls. When I added the adult women it came to 8 out of 10. I even asked a few of them a question as well:
I asked was why do you wear a weave?
A few answers I received can't be printed here but for the answers that I can print their responses were.
• It makes me feel pretty
• I like the look and feel of it
• It is easier to manage
• All of my friends have it
• I see it all over television
Now let me say that I am not for or against weaves in any way. I was just intrigued by the post on Facebook about the topic and wanted to run a little test for myself. Women look great wearing many different styles (braids, natural, weaves, locks, short, long). I like to look more into the WHY?
• Why does it make you feel pretty?
• Why do you like the look and feel?
• Why do all of your friends have them?
• Why is it all over television?
Some may say it is my hair and I can wear whatever I choose, or it is my money and I can do with it want to, I am grown and this is my decision. All of which would be correct. I know my wife has worn a weave, wig, braids, locks, press, curl and any other style you can probably think off. So I am well aware of the different styles that black women wear. And I have loved her look in all of them. However, when she went with the natural look I never realized how difficult a decision it was for her and for some woman to do.
The answer to why it was difficult for her and others and the answers to the questions posed above comes down to society's pressure to look a certain way. Let's face it, long luxurious, flowing hair rules the mindset of most people, and if you don't have that, you do not measure up. Period. That image is deep rooted into so many of our minds, men and women. Men because, if we are only attracted to that look, some women will only keep that look. Women, because their top shows Empire, Being Mary Jane, Single Ladies, Power, Real housewives of Atlanta, etc. all of have stars that wear weaves. Again, nothing wrong with that but it does come with a cost.
What cost? If the only images I see are those images then I will eventually believe that without that I am not pretty or attractive. There must be something inferior about me because my hair doesn't grow like that. I am not as good as because I don't have that look. And when I get "that look," I look at others who don't have it as inferior. Now I am not saying that everyone reacts this way, but it does play a huge part in a number of women.
The women who I have spoken to who have decided to "leave their weave" and gone natural said that they had to seriously mentally prepare themselves for the looks, words and opinion of their mates, family, jobs, church and everyone else. So many women may want to do the same but cannot because of the pressure from outside. That is when I feel it is unhealthy. Some women can't even go natural because of their career. Their jobs will not allow them to have that look representing them. Just think about that.
In my previous article in the Huffington Post, I spoke about the pressure of being a dark skin female, so just imagine being a dark skin girl growing up wearing her hair natural. She will not feel that she is attractive based on society standards. She will have to go overboard with make-up, weaves, coloring, etc. to compensate for her perceived lack of beauty, instead of embracing the beauty she was born with. One lady told me her daughter asked, "Mommy, if you believe I am pretty and we have good hair, why do you wear a weave?" She said that hit her hard and made her change her style. It goes back to the experiment with the dolls from years ago, if we put a black doll and a white doll on a table and let children choose one, will they pick the white doll because it is prettier?, is the black doll ugly and dirty? They will choose based on what they hear, see and observe.
I don't believe anything is done by accident, the hair weave industry is a billion dollar industry with a large percentage of it being by black dollars. As I stated earlier we can definitely choose any style we want but let's be wise and conscious of why? I wonder if COOKIE came out of prison in an afro would that be a popular look nowadays. Or when Mary Jane took out her weave and left the house in a natural style would that have been popular. If so maybe more HS girls would be more comfortable in their natural hair, maybe they would feel they were beautiful without wearing long straight hair. Maybe they would really believe black is beautiful and the weave industry would go from billions a year to maybe just millions.