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Curly Nikki

The Weave and I- A Love Story

By January 27th, 202132 Comments
The Weave and I- A Love Storyby Alona of Hair Politik

When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher asked each student to place five items in a box that best represented him or her. In my box, I placed a pair of scissors, a brown crayon and three other items I’ve long since forgotten. When it was time to present my “Alona box” to the class, I pulled out the scissors and cut off a piece of my weave! Holding the borrowed hair next to my heart, I professed my undying love for weave. That day, I knew that other people’s hair would always have a special place in my heart!

As I made my way back to my seat, amidst much applause from ALL of the black girls in the room, I felt conflicted. With the same zeal it took to love and publicly praise other people’s hair, privately I hated and damaged my own. Even at the tender age of thirteen I knew that didn’t make sense. The fact that I hated my kinky hair is remarkable since I’d hardly ever seen it! It was always chemically straightened or hidden underneath a barrage of ever-changing weaves. Since all I knew about my hair was that it was “bad”, not having to “deal with it” was quite alright with me.

The Weave and I- A Love Story
As I grew older, my love affair with extensions grew even more complicated. How could I continue to despise the thought of “freeing” my naturally kinky hair while at the same time wholeheartedly embracing weaves (read: straight and loosely curled hair) with an almost obsessive devotion. How could I become the strong black woman that I wanted to be, that I claimed to be, if I hated who I was made to be? By the time I reached college, shouts of betrayal from the few black women who were “brave” enough to “unleash” their natural hair made me question my authenticity even more. They asked, “Why do you hate yourself, Sistah? Why are you trying to be White-something you’re not? Why don’t you embrace who you are and let your natural self show?”

Then one day, I just did it; I chopped off my relaxed hair. At first, I continued to wear straight weaves to mask the teeny weeny Afro lurking beneath. Then, in the same “just do it” fashion, I stopped wearing wigs and extensions to work and everywhere else. Gradually, as I learned to care for my own hair, I realized it really isn’t bad at all; it’s beautiful. As each day goes by, I’m writing a new love story with my own hair as the central love interest.

And yet, I miss wearing extensions. Falling in love with my own hair did not mean that I fell out of love with the ability to change my style. To say that I only embraced weaves to try to be more like white people is to give Whites way too much credit. I never wanted to look like Marsha Brady; I wanted to look like Aaliyah. I wanted to look like my mother. Besides, these styles act as a barrier against the elements, help prevent wear and tear on the ends of my hair, allow me to attain a new look without the use of heat or harsh chemicals, and are a quick alternative hairstyle after exercising. While it is true that my appreciation for straight and loosely curled styles was born out of oppression and handed down to me from generations past, it is also true that how we style our hair is yet another example of how black women have made something beautiful out of an ugly situation.Sound familiar?

Just like soul food, these styles are a cherished part of my black experience, and part of who I am. Chitterlings and sewn-in weaves alike serve as a testament to black women’s creativity and ingenuity. And when practiced in an unhealthy way, both soul food and extensions have had ravaging effects on black women’s health. So, I know that we shouldn’t practice these traditions in the same way simply because that’s what we’ve always done. We should celebrate our cultural heritage in healthier ways, while at the same time recognize these practices for what they are: beautiful and flawed. That is what I do when I occasionally wear straight, curly, and kinky extensions today. Some might think that I am a hypocrite for decrying the abuse of one’s own hair in the interest of wearing weaves or for telling people not to forgo exercise to preserve their extensions while at the same time choosing to wear extensions myself. Is a man that preaches about the dangers of ingesting fried food a hypocrite for eating oatmeal baked chicken (a healthier version of fried chicken)? I don’t think so. I want to affirm my African origins and still embrace my African American culture- both of them are flawed and beautifully ugly.

I understand the need for natural women who don’t wear weaves to scream that I hate myself. That urge is completely understandable in a world where those who stand defiantly against assimilation are rewarded with heartache and pain. I understand that you feel every black woman has to do her part to fight these nasty biases and acknowledge what we all know to be true; there is still a preference for straight and curly hair in the black community. I agree with you! I’m not suggesting that when I lovingly unwrap my newest straight lace front wig some of those unhealthy biases don’t pop up again. On the contrary, I know that I’ve been brainwashed to love these styles in such a deep and subconscious way, that I’m not sure I’ll ever completely get rid of them, though I’ll definitely keep trying. I am suggesting that my on-again/off-again trysts with weaves, of all textures, can not be defined so simply; it’s complicated.

So, to the sisters and brothers screaming, “Why do you hate yourself,” I say, “If you try to destroy all of the euro-centric influences that manifest themselves in the ways that I walk, talk, dress, style my hair and exist, then you are trying to destroy me!” Like it or not, this is who I am- a manifestation of the biases imposed upon my ancestors and a member of the new generation actively trying to fight them. To the sisters and brothers clapping at the sight of women wearing long straight extensions but who are unwilling to admit to themselves why they detest tightly curled Afros, don’t use my argument as your own. This is a terrible mess that we’ve been handed and we have to clean it up. That process can’t start unless more of us are honest with ourselves and each other.

To the little girl presenting the “Alona box” in her eighth grade English class, I would say replace the borrowed hair next to your heart with the brown crayon. Vow to color the world with images of brown girls like you who are naturally beautiful even without other people’s hair or approval. Use it to write a real love story, one in which you love yourself.

32 Comments

  • Kris says:

    I have to agree with Hating yourself is worse than herpes! This article is full of contradictions! There is nothing about a weave or wig or flat iron or pressing comb that is you. Growing up a certain way, being force fed a standard of beauty, doesn't make that a part of you. The only authentic you is hair that grows out of your scalp. I understand changing it up. I am natural and I rarely wear my hair the same way. No, I don't wear weaves or wigs, I don't even flat iron my hair anymore. Why? Because I have fully embraced my natural, curly hair and LOVE it! I don't have the desire to look different. I don't have the need to "change it up" with a weave. Who are you changing it up for? Is it truly YOUR desire for long flowing hair…or the remnants of oppression and self hatred you have yet to work through and call by its name?

    I hope one day you truly learn to love YOU…all of you and not the " you" that was created by white america

  • Hating Yourself is Worse than Herpes says:

    You have GOT to be kidding me. These have to be some of the dumbest comments I've ever written by people on a natural hair site. And the article? By removing the european aspects of someone who has never even met themselves, you're trying to destroy you? Please. You've never ever spent a day even getting to know yourself if you feel that those things are you. They are a part of you but they arent YOU.

    What we are talking about is naturality. If you're european traits (from the raping of your ancestors in slavery) are what's so "you" then why do you have to fight your hair to get back to "you"? Why does someone have to apply 800 degree heat and all types of chemicals to get you back to "You". Why would someone have to bleach their skin to get back to them?

    The answer is you don't change yourself to get back to yourself. Your heritage has spoken. It's been speaking to you since birth…only problem is you refuse to listen.

  • Anonymous says:

    Love the article and I likey your hair! 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    thanks so much for sharing this, black guys can wear weave too!!!!

  • MelMelBee says:

    Ashe!

  • Channing says:

    I feel the same as one of the Anon posters who said straight weaves make then uncomfortable now. I'm going through that same thing as we speak. I bought a lace wig like 2yrs ago when I was still weaving it up but I never wore it b/c…well idk why. So I found it the other day [yea, I lost it lol shame I know] and put it on FINALLY. it's beautiful, it blends seamlessly in my hair…but it's straight…and it makes me so uncomfortable now that the first thing I did was throw some twists and rollers in it to give it as much curl as possible.

    it's crazy because 2yrs ago I would've been rocking this thing like nobodies business.

  • Ms. Sassy says:

    This was a great article. That is what I love about us because we can rock so many things and be proud about it. How you were your hair is a preference and a statement and we have so much versatility. I have worn a few wigs here and there.

  • HairPolitik says:

    Thank you so much for the overwhelming response! I'm so glad we could get a good dialogue going on this issue.

    Big thanks to the following for the sweet comments: anonymous#1, anonymous#3, anonymous#7, anonymous#10, KindredSmile, and curlynattie10, JazzaBelleTress.

    To the following continue to Do You and thanks for commenting: anonymous#4 and anonymous#5.

    @Kim and @Naturally_Psyched SweetT guessed it perfectly! This is a photo from George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum, one of my fav plays too! Believe it or not, I played the afro wig in high school.

    @DvaAuNaturel I couldn't agree with you more about the need to take care of your hair underneath weaves. As a rule, I try to spend less than have of the time styling my weaves/wigs as I do caring for my own hair. Luckily, most of my weaves only take a second to pop on and off and don't take much time to style.

    @Anonymous#2 Thanks! As you can see I read ALL of the comments, lol! I'm wearing the Rachel Synthetic Lace Front wig by Champagne. I modified it from it's original texture (straw set twists) by using a razor to create a kinkier texture. You should check out the review of this unit on my website, www.hairpolitik.com for more info.

    @anonymous#3 You bring up a good point about kids, weave and self image. You should read Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. I think she references a few stories in there about hair and kids' identity. There are also lots of kids books out that positively affirm kinky hair.

    @BargainClipper and @DiDI You both hit the nail on the head. For me, weaves=fun, weaves=protective style. weaves=equal a quick fix after a workout. I get bored very easily. So, I am the modern day Regine, lol!

    @anonymous#7 After I'd been wearing my natural hair out for a while, I struggled with wearing straight weaves too. Believe it or not, I'd grown accustomed to and very much liked the natural look. Still do. So it almost looked silly to me and of course there was a political and personal question- am I going backwards? I've answered this question for myself (although I don't wear straight styles as often any more). You'll find your answer by doing exactly what you are doing, self reflection.

    @Sara Yve Thanks for the comment. If there's one thing I don't do, it's "playing healthy." When I was relaxed, I used weaves to help me lose over 50 lbs. I no longer had to worry about what I was going to do with my hair after working out. After I BC'ed, I felt that my hair stayed moisturized and experienced less breakage while in double protective styles (i.e. braids under weaves/wigs). My hair is very much dead, but I think that weaves have helped me maintain it. Again, do you :-).

    Anonymous#9 allow me to introduce you to Ms. Fenty and anonymous#11. I see you've already met PinkGirlFluff, lol! Again, it is no longer about thinking the hair is better than mine. It is about embracing something that I love to do: experiment with weaves. It's almost like I would be denying a part of myself if I didn't practice what I love. More importantly, it's now about loving my hair so much that I want to protect it from the elements, heat, and unnecessary breakage. Take a second glance at the article if you'd like. I too am very critical of women that spend INSANE amounts of money on weaves. That's not me. Most of my weaves and wigs are VERY affordable. As far as wanting to be Indian, I don't want to be anything but myself Hon. 😉

    Whew! Done,lol. Thanks to EVERYONE that commented..honestly all I wanted to do was get a few folks talking about it. Y'all never have to agree with lil' ole me. So this was great! Check out the about section of my website to learn more about me and my hair journey. Stay tuned for the next CN article coming soon!

    Much Luv,

    Alona

  • Anonymous says:

    I wore weaves for almost 20 years. When I look back, I think the reason why I did was I always wanted long hair. I never gave my own hair a chance to grow. It has been almost 3 years now since my BV and my hair has grown more than it has in my entire life. I thank you sistah for this post. I can relate 100 percent.

  • JazzaBelleTress says:

    Thank you!!! I just don't understand why people can't realize that sometimes you just want the best of both worlds. I have probably worn my hair au natural but it takes a lot of time to maintain my hair and sometimes I just want a break. After about 3 months of wearing my hair out I'm about to get another sew-in and I'm too excited!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    i have a weave-in as we speak…for me its a protective style, and next i will be wearing wigs so that i can baby my hair better underneath…my weave is kinky curly, and my wig will be too…idk if i would want a straight weave because im not putting heat on my hair to blend, but i might get a cheap straight wig w/ bangs to wear on occasion

  • PinkGirlFluff says:

    For the person that says they don't know anyone that wears a kinky weave, let me introduce myself! lol. I don't right now but when I was relaxed and through my transition I wore kinky weaves. It looked like my hair with a rod set. Which is naturally big, thick, curly, with no particular rhyme or reason.

    That is why I decided to BC. I was rocking the kinky curly weave so much that I grew to love. And I figured I can grow out my natural hair and love it just the same. I might use it when my hair gets longer to add color (I don't want to color my own hair). Or to give myself a break.

    No biggie!

    And since I can do my own sew in it's cost effective. Plus the Batik synthetic jerry curl weave is easy on my pocket and creates the big poofy curly fro I LOVEEEE!

  • Anonymous says:

    love this!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hmmmmm… I like this article because it's very introspective. YET, with the exception of Erykah Badu (and I don't really know her)- I don't know ANYONE who rocks kinky hair weaves. Wigs maybe, but sew ins- never. Most people pay large amounts of money for Indian hair. So, you may not be trying to look white, but maybe you wish to be Indian?? IDK. It's all very comical and truly I feel to each her own. As for me- I don't think there is ANY hair better than mine. Even when I wore relaxers I felt that way. And I tried a weave once. It wasn't cool. Watching the movie Good Hair made me glad I never get weaves. I see people put strangers hair on their heads daily and pay BIG money for it! Strangers that may have had lice or other bugs before processing. And I think- now this weave-wearing woman would probably NOT stay in a hotel that was known to have bed bugs at one time- but she will put some hair that may have had lice/bugs on top of her head without a second thought. SMH on that one.

  • Danielle says:

    I rock whatever style I want. I wear my hair natural because I live in Maine and "ethic" salons are not in abundance and I also don't feel like the upkeep. When I get a little but if extra money to splurge on my wants, I will most definitely be buying me some wigs.(And MAC!) I love changing my look and the fact that I can just take it off, hang it behind the bathroom door and not have to mess with it is totally appealing to me. The only problem I find with people that relax their hair is if they hate their natural hair or are uncomfortable with due to outside influences. That's a self-esteem problem. Me, I love to rock a clean bob. That will be one of my first wigs! Because sometimes my fro is a little wonky looking and it will make me sad everything I look in the mirror. lol

  • Anonymous says:

    Love this post, I'm natural and I've had several weaves, hair pieces, wigs, etc. I like change. For some reason I don't feel confortable anymore wearing a straight weave, perhaps subconsciously I think I've gone back to relaxers that really messed up my hair, but I can see another women with a straight weave and think it looks beautiful on her, I don't know what's going on in my head, need to really think and search about it.
    I really like all these post lately, very inspiring… Thanks

  • Anonymous says:

    I love this blog post! I view things the exact same way bargainclipper put it…Weaves/wigs can be compared to accessories that can be utilized to change your look, and personally i dont think utilizng a wig or a weave implies self hatred. Thanx alona for sharing!

  • Ms.Fenty says:

    This is a really great post. I think many women think just because u wear a weave or wig that you hate yourself, but thats not always the case. Lets be honest, natural hair takes WORK and sometimes you want a break. Its funny though, because when I was relaxing my hair, I never wore weaves/wigs (fake hair always made me itch, lol), and now that I'm transitioning, I whip out my kinky half-wigs whenever I feel like it, plus, I can just take it off when I'm home (I love that). I love my hair now more than I ever have in all my life, so when I wear a wig I'm not trying to hide anything.

  • Anonymous says:

    i have never said that women who wear weaves hate themselves, but personally, i don't get weaves (then again, i've never had one). it has been my *personal* belief that one should learn and take care of their hair all four seasons of the year instead of just covering it up and playing healthy.

  • Anonymous says:

    For those that watch Extreme House Makeover, this coming Sunday Oct 10th, their will be a Natural Sista on their for that episode. Her afro is gorgeous.

  • Anonymous says:

    Interesting. I still don't feel comfortable with weaves in my hair. I just don't feel authentic.

    I'm not judging; but its not for me.

    Do you.

  • Naturally_Psyched says:

    Is this picture from a play? It's funny b/c I have been trying to remember the name of this play I was in during high school where we played different wigs. Does anyone know the name of the play?

  • Unknown says:

    Is this picture from a play? It's funny b/c I have been trying to remember the name of this play I was in during high school where we played different wigs. Does anyone know the name of the play?

  • KindredSmile says:

    I rarely comment, but thanks for this!

  • Anonymous says:

    Well said!!! I loved weave so much and did so much stuff to my head. But now as a young woman of 27 its just not for me, I'm over the weave. When I look in the mirror I can saw that I'm seeing myself for the first time, and its a beautiful thing to love yourself.

  • BargainClipper says:

    I really enjoyed this story! I've had so many extensions and weaves in the past that I've been "weaved-out" (LOL). It has been almost three since my BC and I'm experimenting with different ways of styling my natural hair (an on-going process). Secretly, I've told myself that before I've gotten the urge to straighten my hair with a hot-comb or flat iron (heat damage is real… scary), I'll weave or wig my hair first. It doesn't help going into the beauty supply store and seeing the new units available (and seeing the YouTube videos about new "girlfriends/boyfriends" a.k.a. affectionate names for units in new "relationships" LOL) and watching re-runs of "Living Single" always amazed at Regine' rockin' so many different looks (even though, I know she had a professional working it for her and "I ain't mad at her"). I view weaves and wigs as accessories just something to change your look especially before making a permanent commitment. Once, I'm bored with styling my own natural tresses, I will be looking into getting me a new "man" (I don't think my DH will like that analogy and I don't think I like it either LOL) well, new GFs even though my natural hair is my BFF, but I can have other "friends".

  • Anonymous says:

    I love this I am in the process of embracing my own natural reality as I call it, I have for years rock many do's some don't as my mom was a beautician. I have a daughter who it is important to me that she knows how I feel about my own skin hair and body. I appreciate this article because to me it represents – something I have thought but never said the wigs/weaves/and pony's weren't me trying to be something I wasn't but me just changing it around trying something new ALL the while holding onto my baby fro underneath protecting it in away even now baby fro is for the weekend. The wigs where me being creative/expressing and in some ways not accepting my own hair. I don't think I never hated it did sometime wish it was longer the kinker the better. But when it boils down to it you have to love you all of you So thank your thoughts.

  • SweetT says:

    I absolutely hated the 2 weaves I've had in my lifetime. I just stopped by to say I LOVE the reference to "The Colored Museum" in the 2nd photo! That's one of my fave plays, after "For Colored Girls"!

  • curlynattie10 says:

    Great Story!

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Alona (if you read this) – love your pic. What type/brand of hair are you rocking?

    Thanks in advance!

  • DvaAuNaturel says:

    I love this story. So glad to have read it. I personally see nothing wrong with rocking a weave. There is no self hatred. Good grief, people are so dramatic (lol). It is all about choices and personal preferences. I just recently big chopped (again) and as soon as my hair grows out I'll be rocking a weave. I'm already starting to get worried about the elements against my TWA. My hair was freezing the other day so the weave will be a welcome form of protection for my true, natural hair. I've always been a weave lover as well, whether kinky, straight, or curly although in years past I preferred a straight look because it allowed me to change my look without damage(heat straightening) to my own hair. My hair grew and was stronger after taking the weaves out too. You MUST take care of your hair underneath though. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with changing up your look every now and again. That is the beauty of women. There are so many ways to update/change our look and with African American women in particular with natural hair the possibilities are endless!

  • Anonymous says:

    I am loving all of these post recently! This is so beautiful to hear a natural woman love herself, her natural hair, and some weave too!!Lol.

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