11.03.2011

|14| “Is the Long, Silky, Wavy Weave the New Social Standard?”

Tuesday, 10.25.11…

I recently have had an observation.  An observation that’s been consistently been popping up to the forefront of my curiosity, be it while I’m watching TV or as I’m navigating through day-to-day life.  Wanna hear about it?  Well, here is goes…

(DISCLAIMER:  The intent of this piece does not come from a place of contempt, but from a space in my brain that seeks understanding and a hope for sparking an epiphany in *someone* out there yonder.  J)

There was a time once when weaves were worn and from the naked eye you could not necessarily see it was not artificial due in part to the fact it seamlessly blended in with the hairstyle of the time, be it the asymmetrical “Salt-n-Pepa” ‘do, the perfectly trimmed ear-length “Bob”, the “Wrap”, and even the slicked-down hair with a phony-pony (tail) of all styles and textures attached to a discreetly tiny banded ball of hair underneath!  Back in the day, (though over time, we as a culture have experimented with many hairstyles to reflect the sign o’ the times or a sense of “progression”), those hairstyles were considered “fly” and much more realistic, believable, and a good fit (i.e. MATCHING the texture of hair)…you know why?  Because the LENGTHS were realistic, believable, and a good fit!!

Fast forward to the 2010 decade…is it just me, or have weaves become EXTREMELY “Rapunzel”-like?!  By “Rapunzel”-like, I mean the looooooong, silky, wavy-like strands of human (or faux) hair cascading down the heads of women who wear skin in many hues of brown.

In addition to my feelings about the hair weave industry as a whole, it seems to me this hair is becoming sort of symbol of a social status within the African American community (and BEYOND to my dismay (more on THAT topic @ a later date)) and is now proudly publicized as THE standard.  Look at the reality shows featuring women who “represent” celebrity, or women in Corporate America who represent “success”, or even every day public figures you see on a regular basis, from news broadcasters to police officers.  Nine times out of 10, you will see them coiffed with a perfectly (or not-so) in-place head of sewn-in, glued, or pinned-in hair.  These are often women who are looked up to, be it simply because of the celebrity lifestyle, the notoriety, the clothes, the shoes, the jewelry, the cars, the houses, the ________ (fill in the blank with whatever suites your vision of success).

[Sidetrack moment…I am a people-watcher.  It is one of my FAVORITE things to do in life because people fascinate me!  J  BUT, I will admit, since I’ve been in this new relationship with my afro-textured hair, I am 107X more cognizant of hair and black women.  That is more than likely the first thing I’m looking at when I am idly walking by, or engaging in conversation with folks.  That being said, the words to follow may be construed as judgmental, but just know, I’m an observer of life and like to “think”, so things like this make me ponder, hence the reason I’m putting my fingers to work on this keyboard right now!  J  When I am out and about, I tune into women with natural hair as though I have antennas attached to my head that immediately camera-zoom my eyes to them!  I can’t help it!  Regardless if they instinctively reciprocate it, I feel an INSTANT connection to women who have chosen to rock their hair in its natural state.]

N-E-whooooooo...back to the observation at hand…What is this growing phenomenon of extremely long, silk-like, wavy/curly weaves and the women of color who wear them all about?!

I periodically travel to other states and while out and about in our communities, and in addition to the natural-rockin’ sistahs I notice, I MORE often will see women of color donning this “hair”, which then causes me to immediately go into “people-watch” mode…observing their behaviors and how they interact with those around them…not cuz I’m an expert @ observin’ folks’ behavior, but just cuz folks make me THINK (and often laugh!!).  As one who used to sport a new hairstyle every other day in my “former life”, it always makes me wonder the specific reason why one has chosen that particular hair, that particular length, and what it must cost them to maintain it.  My reasons THEN for sportin’ a particular hairstyle, were strictly related to VANITY & trying to stand out from all the other girls on campus!  Simply superficial and non-substantive reasons…

So, when I see women of color with this long, silky-like, wavy/curly hair on a head that more than likely genetically sprouts hair more textured, it makes me wonder.  Does the length signify how much it’s worth and everybody needs to know it?  Does this hair tell other sistahs ‘Hey, look at ME cuz this is what YOURS is s’posed to look like’?  Does this hair represent the fact this is being taken care of or is handlin’ her business by her hair being “did” err’ week?  Does this hair represent an insecurity cover-up?  Does this hair represent a financial status in life?  Does this hair represent a physical appearance that everything in life is perfect?  I could go on...

Whatever it is, SOMETHING’S driving the trend and making a whoooooole lotta other people wealthy in the process AAAAAND is exploiting cultures of people (think about the sources of this hair AND the end-user!)  It’s a trend that concerns me not only from that stand-point, but I also see this growing into an “acceptable” social standard for African-American beauty AND financial status that does not need to be factored into already skewed equation of what we as a culture deem as being successful.

I’m just sayin’…

Afro-texturally speaking…

CoilyCoiff2010

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