Wigs, Weaves and Self-Esteem

long_hairI was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw the headline:

“Jamaica’s importation of wigs and weaves is set to hit $1 billion in 2013.”  (Jamaica Observer business article).

One. Billion. Dollars.  That’s about USD$9.5 MILLION at the exchange rate at the time of this writing.

$9.5 Million United States Dollars – whew.  That’s a WHOLE lot of HBO – “Hair Belonging To Others” (according to my cousin).

I tried to ignore the headline, then laugh about it, but then I had to face the truth: it bothers me.  It really bothers me that we Jamaicans are spending so much of our money on wigs and weaves.  And it bothers me because I have the sneaky suspicion that most of those wigs and weaves  look like Caucasian hair.  Asian hair.  South American Indian hair.  Chemically straightened hair.  Chemically curled hair.

Any other kind of hair except black, kinky-curly hair in its natural state.


I’ve had to be thinking deeply about it because, on the face of it, nothing is wrong with putting in a weave.  Nothing is wrong with wearing a wig.  But the deeper question is: WHY are we wearing the wigs and the weaves?

If we’re spending all that money just to look different, to play with other styles, to enjoy the convenience of not having to spend so much time styling ones own hair – well, ok.  I get that.  That’s why we braid, cornrow, and yes, wear weaves and wigs.

But do we wear those weaves and wigs because, deep, DEEP down, we believe fervently that our own hair isn’t good enough?  That black, natural, kinky-curly hair, is inferior to other kinds of hair?

Does it reflect the same mindset that causes some women – and men – to bleach their skin… because our blackness is a curse?

 If the purpose of our wigs and weaves is to hide our real hair because our real hair isn’t good enough, then can we REALLY say we love ourselves?

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