I’d always dreaded the sew-in weave. There was just something so western about it that I didn’t quite appreciate -not that I have anything against the silky western hair. Thus, for the majority of my young adult life, I didn’t indulge in the bliss that most black women feel when their hair extensions sway in the wind, the way typical course and curly African hair doesn’t. I didn’t mind at all.
Braids have always been my thing. Hypocritical right? Yes, I know. Installing those requires using western synthesized hair. To me, however, the feeling of picking out small chunks of thick, sponge-like, curly hair and plaiting them to create long single tresses that echo a lock-like natural African look, somehow makes a difference. In my mind, the African-ness of the style makes using synthesized hair not so western. Somewhere in between, the straight, silky locks become an African thing.
I had a crochet braids phase. One of my closest friends talked me into doing that. She said; “It’s not like weaves. You crochet them into your cornrows with a pin. They come out looking like single braids but a lot fuller. To the eyes looking at you, the hair looks like regular braids.” Yet, I still dreaded it so much. I mean it’s practically like sewing in hair extensions, except you don’t sew them in, you crochet them in. Still, it involved covering up my natural hair and wearing fake western hair as if it naturally grows out of my head. Even the convenience of how little time it takes to install and how gorgeous the curls look, did nothing to soothe my fear of looking inauthentic. But at some point I gave in at her insistence, and I’ve tried it twice before.
Please don’t think of me as some high and mighty girl who thinks she’s so much more African than the next weave wearing lady out there. If we’re being completely honest, my dislike for weaves and hair extensions in general was more rooted in my fear of looking too mature. I mean, I’m a 24 – year- old who looks like a teenager. I love it (to a certain extent). Plus, I’ve used hair relaxers and texturizers before. Those are western products that make course hair straight and silky. I’m definitely not innocent of western influences on my hair-care routines.
Perhaps it was that guilty feeling that led me to finally give the weave thing a try. Well… that and the persuasion of my best friend, who completely believes that I can totally pull off any hairstyle regardless of its ethnic affiliations.
I let his praise seep into my subconscious and riding off that high, I dared the dreaded weave-on. I took the plunge into the cold depths of the sew-in sea. I was bold about it too; the extensions I picked have a light-brown, borderline blonde color. I also chose a stylist I believed had experience installing such extensions and I explained my non-existent weave history to her, as well as my concern about what I’ll end up looking at when I stare into a mirror everyday for the next month or two.
To slash a long story in half, I will say this; My stylist did an OK job yet my best friend is completely in love with it. I’m neither thrilled nor turned-off. Don’t get me wrong, I think it looks fine… strange, but fine. Maybe I’ll be more ecstatic about it when I get used to seeing myself wear weaves – if i do it again. My brothers laughed their lungs to the floor when I stepped in the house yesterday. They thought I looked ridiculous. My mom isn’t too thrilled about the ‘do either.
I went natural a year ago, so my hair is short. The black ladies out there rocking their natural curls would understand how essential it is to keep natural hair protected and healthy. Protective styles are key and sew-ins happen to be one of the best options. It’s either I do that, crochet or single braids, which I’ve done so many times already. The other option would be to get a sassy Halle-Berry-like haircut, which I’d rather not do, considering I’m still recovering from my ‘big chop’. That said, it’s either I get with the weave life, or stick to the single braids/crochet look for God knows how long, until my natural hair is long enough to be style versatile.
Oh the struggle!