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Friday, November 27, 2009

Am I self-hating because I rock a weave?

NO! Well it depends.
Weaves and wigs are not an invention of contemporary American culture nor of 17th century Europe where men powdered those poodle-looking wigs on their heads. The origin of wigs and weaves date back approximately three thousand years ago to Ancient Africa, particuarly Kemet (Ancient Egypt). Wigs were often used because the Ancient Egyptians shaved their heads to prevent lice. In fact, shaving the heads (particularly among the young) and rocking wigs and extensions is still practiced throughout parts of Africa.



Left: Two women whose braids have been lengthened to their ankles through the use of sinew (eefipa) extensions, Mbalantu of Wambo group, Namibia, Africa Photo: M.Schettler, 1940's. From the book Hair in African Art and Culture


So do we say the Ancient Egyptians had natural body image shame because they rocked the--do I dare say it?--WIG! Certainly not.







Below:  royal child with plait;
New Kingdom Ancient Egypt. Source: V. Easy
                                      
                                           Below: Boy with plait. Himba, Namibia, Africa
                                                         Photo dated: Anneliese Scherz, 1940's
                                                         From the book Hair in African Art and Culture


                                  
                                                                   
However, why do we, as women in the African Diaspora, wear wigs and weaves?

  • To give our hair a rest from daily manipulation?
  • To change up the do?
  • To hide our natural hair 24/7 because we're ashamed of it?
                                           Right: Namibia Wigs

Now there are women (of all ethnicities) out there that rock prosthetic wigs because they may suffer from alopecia. These are NOT the women I'm talking about. I'm talking about those of us sistahs with a head full of hair who wear Wiggy and her sistah Weavisha.                                 
                                                                                                                                                       
Ancient Egyptian Wig: Royal Ontario Museum, Canada

I'll rock kinky twists in a heartbeat, but not because I hate my natural hair. In fact, I feel a bit "hairsick," missing my natural hair while its in the protective style. However, our natural hair thrives in protective styles, and kinky twists are my way to protect my crown.

Part of my journey to learning ourstory is discovering new protective styles I can wear for (2-3 months) with my natural hair. If y'all have any ideas, let a sistah know!

Now I don't believe every woman who relaxes their hair or rocks a weave hate themselves. Goodness gracious--I'd be talking about half of the women in my family (and since kinky twists is weave) that would include me too. I am all for embracing one's cultural heritage, and weaves/wigs is part of our ancient cultural heritage. Just know ladies, if you do wear wigs/weaves take a deep look within to determine why. If it's because you can't stand the sight of your natural hair, then you are suffering from Natural Body Image shame.

So the last thing I'll say is...

Love the real you and do you!






2 comments:

Jazzy said...

Hey there! I really enjoyed this article. I am actually a transitioner who used to be and grew up natural. I permed my hair because I thought it would be easier because I am so active. I have a full head sew in now to grow out my hair enough so my BC won't be so small. Honestly it's not my hair that I'm ashamed of...it's my head. I was literally teased and called tweety bird as a child so I'm my adulthood I still get a little self-conscious about it from time to time. U can't c a pic of me on my blog: www.jazzyfit.com. Also I'm pretty nervous about my BC this summer and am curious to how my active lifestyle will affect how I takecar of my hair. I train super hard 6 days a week and need a natural style that's easy but cute and fly. Any suggestions u have would be awesome!!

Miss Keyra said...
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