Choosing, not emulating
Inspired by an article in the Guardian today (22 December 2017) (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/22/braids-weaves-pretence-women-fake-hair) to dig out this article, which we originally called 'Black women and wigs and weaves' and published in 2011.
‘Black women wear weaves and wigs only to emulate white women’. I hear this statement too often and it is a forever-debated subject, particularly amongst black people. In response, other than 'each to their own' I have just five things to say:-
1) Weaves and wigs are just two practical options for managing and wearing afro hair. Not everyone – male or female, of any ethnicity or race - has hours to spend on styling their hair every day, only to have it dried out or flattened by the sun, wind, rain, traffic, etc. and then have to spend more time fixing it. Other practical options include cutting the hair very low or shaving it all off, pinning it up or down, wearing it in a bunch or pony tail, wearing scarves or hats, etc. Even before contact with the white man, black people in the motherland Africa found practical ways of managing and wearing their afro hair, e.g. braiding, twisting, threading, and corn rowing. Running around with loose afros is only Hollywood, baby.
2) Those who make such statements typically also praise black women with natural / virgin / chemical-free afro hair for claiming their roots / ‘embracing their blackness’. Are you aware that black women can wear a weave or wig and have natural hair at the same time? Under my SimiWeave™ U part wig (my patented clip on/clip off weave line) hair style is 100%, natural and chemical-free afro hair. Its corn rowed flat so I don’t haveto manage it every day. So am I a sell out or are you proud of me?
3) Next they usually say that the fact that I feel oblidged to cover up my own afro hair with a SimiWeave™ U part wig is the problem: it is an illustration of a sub-conscious conformity to the white standard of beauty, and nothing to do with practicality. I say that for people pre-occupied with hair, they still have a lot to learn! For instance, texturised, curly or frizzy weaves and wigs that look like natural afro hair exist and are worn by many of the black female weave and wig wearers out there, myself included. So stop generalising: not all black women wear weaves and wigs that look so much at odds with their features that they could be accused of trying to emulate white women!
4) Such generalisations do not factor in fashion. Fashionable 'sistas' out there will let their hair and hair style choice be dictated by fashion, and not some desire to look white or anything else. Ever since Angelina Jolie and J Lo replaced Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor as sex symbols, having big lips and a rounded butt have been acceptable and fashionable. Will you now say that white women are pumping up their lips and butts with collagen, Botox and implants because they want to look black?
5) Last but not least, I don’t deny that a ‘white standard’ of beauty has been imposed on the world for many centuries, and that the popularity of long, bone-straight hair in different colours - amongst women of all ethnicities and races - is a throwback of that. However, it is completely unfair to say that all the black women who wear weaves and wigs do so only to ‘look white’. I know that I wore weaves for many years for practicality. But they took up so much time and money and were inconvenient. So I invented my SimiWeave™ U part wig clip-on/clip-off weave line. And now I will wear my SimiWeave™ U part wigs for many years for practicality, convenience and affordability.
Simi Belo, inventor, multiple award winning SimiWeave™ U part wig, 22 December 2017