And the hardcore, nitty-gritty straight no chaser-kind truth is that a weave is not a protective style. A weave is just a weave.
Yeah I know, what business is it of mine what someone else puts on their head? It isn’t my business – until folks try to convince me that what I’m seeing is not what I am actually seeing. And that is what has been happening as of late in a couple of the natural hair social networking groups to which I belong. Perhaps because of the change of season, the sites have been awash with posts and pictures of self-proclaimed natural hair women, rocking the 23-inches of Brazilian wet and wavy cascading down their backs. They call it “protective styling,” a term coined to describe the process in which women (and men too) hide their hair from “harmful agents.” It used to just apply to those rocking the braids and cornrows, but some of our more ingenious womenfolks have found a loophole into TeamNatural by playing fast and loose with the lingo to make it more weave-tastic.
Technically, certain wig and weave styles, particularly the sew-in, allow the hair a break from the daily stresses some women do to their hair including processing and perming, tugging and over-styling. And technically certain wigs and weave styles, are a great way to promote growth because your hair is pretty much in a dormant state from such manipulation, thus more free to do what it does uninhibited. But also technically, you have someone else’s hair on your head. And no matter how you try to spin it, that just ain’t natural.
At the core of what bugs me the most about the weave classification as a “protective style” is the distorted, if not counterproductive motives behind it. Honestly natural hair shouldn’t be this high maintenance. And unless there are hair bandits on the loose, hoping to score on the black market with a handful of your natural coils, there is really nothing in our natural environment that we have to protect the hair from. Everything else is truly about accepting and learning how to deal with your own hair as it comes out of your head – whether it comes out extra kinky or extra fine; in the snow, sleet, rain, wind or through hot summers. Acceptance of our hair is supposed to teach us that not every style choice is meant for us but that’s okay because our hair is beautiful anyway. Yet throwing a weave or some braids in your head – while a cute style – teaches you nothing about your hair, especially when you wear it for 11 months out of the year (which many of these womenfolks in TeamNatural are professing to do). All it does is just tucks away the “problem,” some folks refuse to deal with upfront. Of course, the real problem isn’t so much the hair as it is the thinking.
Likewise, what used to be about freedom from more European-centric standards of beauty, which meant forgoing all the unnecessary manipulations we put our hair through in an effort to match, or exceed, those standards – has now turned into growth challenges; angry rants about “shrinkage” and stretching; saturating our hairs with products in hopes of “defining curls” and behind the back selfies of women tugging at a small section of their hair and measuring how close it is to reaching BSL, or bra-strap level. It seems that many women don’t just want healthy hair; they just want lots of hair. And I’m not talking about big kinky, curly hair like a Tracy Ross (but that too) but also long hair, the kind you can swing about like your name was Becky. It’s a sad thing to say but the more I observe this heightened emphasis among naturals for “length” and “protection,” the more I realize that many of us have carried much of the same baggage along with us into what was supposed to be a liberating movement.
It’s true whether or not folks are willing to admit to themselves. And no cutesy, made-up technical term is going to hide the fact that many of these weaved-up naturalists are no different than Shay Shay and her best girlfriend LaQuanita, who trek over to the neighborhood Korean beauty supply store and haggle with them over 18”inches of 100 percent Brazilian. They, like our “protective” stylers, want to wear a weave because they want long hair and their nappy, possibly short, hair won’t enable them to have it. Long hair, don’t care. And think I’m lying or misrepresenting? When was the last time you’ve seen someone with a “protective style” get a short nappy weave? Rest my case counselors.
It probably shouldn’t bother me as much as any of the thousands of other contradictory ways in which we choose to live (present company not excluding). But for the last month or so, I have watched as several well-meaning womenfolk, try genuinely to raise both the contradiction and overuse of the term protective styling issue in these hair groups, only to be ostracized and demonized under the hair-slur of Hair Nazi. More than anything, I wanted to write a post to let those sisters know that you’re not crazy or delusional or hating. Many of us have yet to get past the stage of our “transition” where we stop equating length with strength, healthy condition and overall beauty. That’s why we have to exercise some patience even as we continue to set the record straight about the joys of embracing one’s own curl patterns as our personal biology and genetics intended.
Alternatively for my weave-loving sisters: Who cares if you wear a weave? People stopped tripping about that sometime in the late 80s into the early 90s. If I was rocking a weave I would not hide behind Negro-correct terminologies like “protective styling.” I would wear my weave loudly and proudly, testifying to all of its lengthy, straight and flexibility of styling choices it allows me to achieve that I couldn’t achieve naturally. Seriously, it is truly okay. Just don’t try to con the rest of us into accepting your weave as some sort of amendment to natural hair. Truth is, that weave stopped being natural the day it left the head of its original owner.
Ladies, what are your thoughts?