I don’t like weaves. Don’t like the way 100% human hair – that is not 100% my own – feels as it pulls at my scalp and lashes against my neck. The way you have to flick it out of the way, tie it, clip it, grease it, tong it, shampoo, condition, maintain it so it’s worth every dollar you’ve spent investing in it.
Salons aren’t my thing. The smell of acrid chemicals and burning hair, the whoosh of dryers and blowers, the heaps of hair and discarded weaves piling up on to the floor. I feel foreign in this place that ‘every woman should feel at home in’. I dislike the small talk about what hairstyle I had on previously, how much the weave in my handbag cost and where I got it, and how much this next hairstyle will cost. If my being woman is measured by this standard, then I will always fail to meet it. And that is okay.
I have two weaves in my wardrobe. Both almost five years old. Investments I made when I worked in an environment that constantly reminded me that good hair was anything that could hide my own. They are still in there in their packs, still stitched to their seams, still waiting to be unpackaged and sewn on to cornrows of hair in a style that will make all the hairdressers coo and smile at how beautiful I look. How beautiful I will be when I escape what lies beneath.
If that is the only kind of beautiful there is, then I have accepted that I will never be it. That I will be what society others and relegates to being unkempt and unruly. I will wear this forest of hair that grows naturally from my scalp and endure your questions, no your inquisitions, about when I will straighten it, relax it, or just hide it from view. You will tell me the relative benefits of Dark n’ Lovely over Revlon, and the nuances of the Brazilian over the Peruvian. I will listen. But I will forget what you told me, because none of this interests me. My forest of follicles locking and twisting itself into crisp ringlets and spirals is my own fascination. The way it feels for four fingers to lose themselves in a place they know and don’t know all at once. This is my beauty.
Perhaps I will give those weave away one day. Perhaps I will keep them to remember one of the many times I have been forced to conform, because conformity is the standard… of goodness, of reverence, of beauty. 100% human. Hair. 100% someone else’s.
I don’t like weaves. And this is no crusade to turn you against yours, if you wear one. This is no tirade against anyone’s choice. This is no judgement. But it is a statement I declare for myself. For my choice. As I navigate the daily gazes of judgement and expectation that are hallmarks of being woman.