Growing up, I had always asked myself and sometimes my mom why my woolly hair can hardly be tamed like those white little girls with pigtails I see in the movies. And anytime my mom would pull a comb through my kinks, I would cry or even find a hiding place so I would not have to endure the pain of the teeth of the comb through my kinks. Often than not to appease me, my mom would take me to the hair dresser to relax my course hard- to- manage hair; in Africa this is called the stubborn hair. But soon what was once a full, fluffy healthy black cloud transformed into discolored strands falling lifeless from my head because of too wrong and too frequent application by my hair dresser. So I lost all my crowning glory. And that was when I found my solution: The Hair piece. Today, I am one of many African women who love to wear “hair-that-does-not-belong-to-me”. But, does this justify our craze for hair extensions?
What baffles me is the rate at which African women these days have taken a likening to the Brazilian, Peruvian, Malaysian, Indian hairs. Let not even talk about how expensive these extensions are today. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against it because I myself go in for such hair extensions. I was recently talking to a male friend of mine and he said to me “Edna, You can call me anything you want and feel the highest pity for my girlfriend but then that is what it is…. I will never pay for the cost of weaves, wigs or Brazilian hair of any kind for my woman and I will be extremely proud if my sisters’ boyfriends and husbands do the same. Those things are too damn expensive”.
I remember when all that the average woman had was her natural hair, and attachments were once-in-a-while luxuries. Looking at my mum in her beautiful wedding dress, and the tiara on her full curly hair, I can only ask where those days have gone. Today, it’s almost unthinkable for a bride to walk down the aisle without hair extensions. Make that Brazilian Hair.
Some years ago, a woman would only braid her hair just before Christmas. Wigs were used by the rich and political figures who wanted to look classy. Unfortunately, many at times ended up like Tina Turner on a bad hair day. For our religious sisters who couldn’t stand the thought of using what they called ‘the mermaid spirit’s hair’, wool came in handy.
Sadly, the Beyoncés, Tyra Banks, Gabrielle Unions and even our very own celebrities talk of the Genevieve Nnajis, Yvonne Nelsons, Yvonne Okoros, Nadia Buaris and Jackie Appiahs have done nothing to help the situation. We see these stars at movie premieres, in the movies, at the shopping malls in fact everywhere flaunting their good Brazilian hairs. Now, African women walk the streets of Accra, Lagos and Johannesburg with weaves of all kinds from the Brazilian hair, Malaysian hair, Indian hair, Bohemian hairs and all sort of hairs named by their area of origin. What is even sad is that, all these weaves come from all the aforementioned places except Africa. African women even walk around with weaves ranging from 8, 10, 12, 14,16 to 24 inches or even more in the hot sweltering African sun. Some are installing these hairs just to get that compliment, “Oooh girl, you have some good Brazilian hair there!” You know we all have that friend. Meanwhile, they do not even know the difference between these weaves.
I came across a lady who walked into a salon and wanted a change of hairdo. Mind you, she had on hair extensions as long as the Nile which was probably 2 weeks old and she bought 2 pieces of 24-inch weave-ons. I was a little envious of her since she could afford to buy a new piece every 2 week and I couldn’t. She brought a picture of a celebrity with her hoping that the stylist could give her that same hair look . I expected her to walk out with her pretty long hair. By the time the stylist was done with her, the hair on her head was half the length of what she’d bought. Amazing, she could afford to chop all that Brazilian hair all in the quest to look like some celebrities who could afford more hair weaves than she can.
Unless my little analysis was flawed, I realized that most natural-haired women save good money in hair expenses compared to the frequent patrons of hair weaves, considering the inflated price of the weave, the cost to get it on, and the risk of not liking the outcome, taking it off a week later and putting on another one. I suppose some husbands and boyfriends will be the ones with weeping wallets, because for the big hair spenders, as long as the money keeps flowing they will still keep on buying one Brazilian weave after another.