There are so many conversations regarding black hair. For some reason, the topic of why many African American women like weaves and wigs is both fascinating, and to a certain extent controversial. Are weaves and wigs a part of the African American women’s culture, or is it a trend that they participate in more because they can? Could it be that black hair texture can accommodate hair weaving, for example, while other ethnic groups’ hair can’t? Should African-American women catch so much flack because they embrace wigs and weaves? We don’t think so.
Let’s explore the origin of weaves and wigs before we discuss some of the reasons African American women like to wear them. Where did they originate from anyway? The common narrative is that wigs were worn as a status symbol by women in ancient Egypt, Africa. They decorated the wigs with gold and other precious stones to show off their wealth. Weaves are recent and have evolved from wigs.
That was then, this is now. Why are African-American women fond of wigs and weaves?
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The most common reason is versatility. You can have a bob one week, rocking a bouncy curl the following week, and unapologetically spotting a full afro before the month is out!
There is the added flexibility of safely experimenting with cuts, lengths, colors, and textures without risk or a long term commitment.
While African American hair texture is the most versatile when it comes to creating different forms of hairstyles compared to other ethnicities, hair maintenance is quite the opposite. Extra maintenance is necessary for black hair to stay or grow long, and remain healthy. It is more susceptible to become dry and brittle than other ethnicities’ hair. The remedy is regular moisturizing which can limit styling options or their duration. This is especially difficult if the hair is not long enough for you to escape into a bun or puff. Even if it is possible, who wants to be stuck in the same hairstyle for months?
3. Career demands:
Some industries, overtly or subtly, have a bias towards the European standard of beauty where sleek and straight is neat, and curly or dreadlocks are unbecoming and untidy. African American women in those industries opt for wigs or weaves to conform to the norm without having to straighten their hair or apply chemicals to achieve the desired look now it is easy to buy wigs on online, highly recommend Urgirl hair
This bias towards one ideal of beauty is so prevalent that in 2019 when Zozi Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe, it was considered a breakthrough moment for many women of color. Why? Because she had no weave and wore her natural hair short.
4. Fashion trend:
African American women wear wigs and weave on extensions because they can and want to. They are entitled to style their hair as they please without having to explain themselves.
5. Protect natural hair:
There are a lot of African American women who wear weaves as a protective hairstyle. When it comes to natural hair, the struggle is real. Maintaining natural hair is not for the faint hearted. Trying to grow natural hair long takes it to a whole new level. It takes a lot of effort and can be time-consuming. The solution for most, is to take care of the natural hair under a wig or weave without having to deal with styling issues on a daily basis.
The most common misconception is that women who wear weaves or wigs either have short hair, none or want to look Caucasian. That assumption is wrong for so many women at so many levels. One of the most common reasons for wearing weaves or wigs is to give our natural hair a chance to grow and be healthy. That is why you can find a woman with long hair wearing a short wig or weave, just to give herself a break from the daily hair maintenance while spotting a new look.
6. To enhance looks and build confidence:
Yes, there are women who wear extensions to boost their confidence and enhance their looks. Some people have very thin hair and weave in extensions to create volume, others wear wigs to cover the loss of hair due to medical reasons and other factors.
Are African American women the only ones who use hair extensions?
A side note, African American women are not the only ones who wear hair extensions. Whites, Latinos and Asians also do. The only difference is that it is not very obvious with them because of the hair texture and because they can grow hair long easily compared to most African Americans. If they can wear extensions, why do African American women need to explain themselves?
Things to Never Ask African American Women
While we are on the topic of hair, it is a good time to point out that some of the questions people ask African American women about their hair are out of line. We do not ask other ethnicities whether it is a real tan or they have applied tanning lotion, whether their hair can really defy gravity or they have applied styling gel, whether they were born blonde or have dyed their hair. Now that we have that out of the way, here are the questions we are referring to:
Can I touch your hair?
Is this your real hair?
Do you wash your hair?
Why do you wear these things when your hair is long?
We hope that the information in this article has helped you have a better understanding of African American women and their relationship with wigs and weaves. While there are some women who after wearing wigs and weaves for so long feel insecure without them, that is not the majority. There are a lot of African American women who celebrate their looks and feel comfortable in their skins, in and out of wigs and weaves. They consider wigs and weaves in the same manner as foundation, lipstick or mascara. These are simply fashion accessories that are used to define and enhance already beautiful, amazing stunning melanin queens!