by: michael eli dokosi/blakkpepper.com
Women are a special breed and it’s no news that they love to look lovely. From the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet, women have managed to add something to their God given frame. It is often said that Beauty is Pain, how true this statement is: if this statement were false how else do we explain 2 year olds being put under hair dryers after toxic perm creams have been applied to their feeble heads.
Back in the day our mothers and grand mums equally loved to be attractive just as today’s woman, the difference however is that whiles their hair choices were chiefly influenced by their natural hair and a need to be distinct, African and proud, current influences include a need to look westernized and fashionable as well as expensive.
So the question is why won’t African ladies and men just leave their natural hair alone without adding clicks, weaves, wigs, extensions, glue and others to their hairs. For some women, their natural hairs are kinky or coarse making it difficult to comb, others maintain they go for the extensions to make them look matured whiles others contend it’s a technique to allow their hair to breathe and grow whiles they put on the weaves.
Another school of thought is that wigs allow you to visit the saloon less hence reduce the level of harm you could be exposed to. For such people who hold this view, a wig is the equivalent of a cap, guys put on. Its simplicity allows them to wear it and head for work or attend other functions without a hustle.
Whatever the reasons, putting on weaves, wigs, and extensions is expensive. Take the United States for instance, hair business specially targeted at black women is a 9 million dollar business with some weaves costing as much as 5,000 dollars with the burden of payment often falling on husbands, boyfriends and fathers though some independent women foot their own bill. In the Ghanaian case weaves costing as much as 1,000 Ghana cedis are being worn by our ladies.
It has to be said that advertising has done much to orient African and diaspora women to use relaxers to relax their so called kinky hair to look modern and civilized. Brands such as Revlon, Vigorol, Hawaii, UB, are really cashing in and making the most of the situation.
However a warning on a Revlon relaxer is instructive: Follow directions carefully to avoid skin and scalp irritation, hair breakage and eye injury. Make no mistake about it, hair business is big business despite the fact that sodium hydroxide, a key component in perm creams can burn the skin of raw chicken in minutes. T-Pain the musician describes the burn of a perm as the most excruciating pain he’s got to endure. The reverend Al Sharpton who spots a permed hair describes his experience as “first time you feel your whole skull is on fire.”
Many women prefer natural weave to synthetic because they can curl it without it melting but many are ignorant about the origin of these weaves.
India is home to about 1 billion people and Chennai is the weave capital of the world. After software and statues, hair is India’s biggest export and the source of hair which many Ghanaian ladies feel so proud wearing is from the Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirupati, India. “Tonsure” is the ritual in which both male and female shave off their hair to the gods in exchange for blessings.
These shaved hairs are then gathered, processed and exported to America, Ghana and other countries where they end up on the heads of doctors, lawyers, first ladies, university students, house wives and strippers. In India 85% of the people have had their hair shaved at least twice a year in ritual ceremonies.
The big question is could there be spiritual connotation to wearing someone’s hair? The foreign hair lovers quickly point out the fact they pray over the weaves and wigs to cast out any demon before usage.
In sharp contrast, no one wants shaved African hair but African women buy Brazilian, Peruvian hair whose origin is Indian as well as go for brands such as Chocolate, Modern Waves and New Golden which is quite telling.
But all hope is not lost, there exist a sizeable number of ladies who prefer to maintain their natural hair without adding chemicals to it. Such ladies assert that they can’t imagine wearing another’s hair adding that with their own hair there are many styles they can do including dreadlocks, corn roll, afro, gari, anago, wobibiafe and atsiwhiwhi.
Feel free to declare your stand on the natural hair vs. weave debate.