A few weeks ago, I was catching up with a friend, who had just returned from a trip and I noticed that her hair was different. As I tried to find her amid the sea of bodies in the packed restaurant, I took out my phone, ready to call and ask where she was seated, until I finally zeroed in on her. Viola! The reason I had a hard time pinpointing her was because her hair was different. When she left NYC she had long gorgeous braids and as I approached our table, I could see that she had traded that in for a weave.
As I embraced her, I joked about the fact that her hair was different and I asked her why her trip to LA had sparked the need for a weave, since her braids were relatively new and quite gorgeous. She laughed and explained that she wanted a change. She then proceeded to try to convince me that ever since she switched from braids to extensions, the amount of male attention she has been receiving has skyrocketed. I gave her a curious glance, and quickly surveyed her trumped up do. It looked contrived and frankly didn’t quite suit her. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that, so I smiled and told her I was happy that she was happy with her hair.
But the truth is that I was and still am confused. Her braids were glorious! She had gotten them done in Nigeria for almost nothing and yet they looked like a million bucks. Every time we met up, I always made a point to compliment them and she responded positively. But once the weave was secured, she was beyond enthusiastic. It was as if she had undergone a major makeover and her whole life was finally going to change. The man of her dreams just needs to see her with long straight hair paired with severe bangs.
This particular mindset makes me wonder how many of us rely on extensions to validate our beauty. I personally have indulged once in my life, and it was for a photo shoot for a hair magazine. I am definitely not saying that I will never get a weave again, but as long as I am able to maneuver my tresses in ways that work for me, I probably won’t utilize that route anytime soon. My point is that my friend clearly didn’t feel confident walking around with an ethnic style. Weaves have always been her mainstay. When I saw her with braids, I was elated. Mainly because she looked fabulous, and I was excited to see her step out of her comfort zone and try something new. It’s obvious that she felt restricted and unattractive the whole time, and I am sure spending time in LA didn’t help matters. I think they choices we make based on twisted perceptions hurt us in the long run. She is so convinced that weaves are the best way to go, that she didn’t even try to give her new hairstyle a chance. If the kind of guys she attracts are the ones that are drawn to long fake hair, are they really worth her time?
Weaves are not the enemy; we are our own worst enemies. We use them as a shield to hide under, to help propel us to a level of status that we think we deserve. But in order to meet quality guys, we have to be comfortable with our most basic self. It’s time to relinquish the relevance we have given to our hair and embrace what really makes us who we are. I hope my friend will get to the point where she doesn’t need to rely on her weaves to make her feel worthy.