Monday, May 12, 2008

Hair Weaves: A Colloquy

EE weave Hair Weaves: A Colloquy

I find that often I am the walking talking blogging personification of the American-Negro duality. Some days I’m black power, power to the people, reparations now, love, peace and soul and sometimes I’m like: whatever negroes, slavery is dead. Get over it, master capitalism and keep it movin.

“One ever feels his twoness-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
—W.E.B. DuBois

Jam the Negro

Whats with all the hair weaves? As I struggled this morning, hard brush in hand, struggling to find the right ratio of gel to water to persuade all my hair into my drug store pony tail holder, I wondered what has gotten into women these days? Once reserved for tramps, fly girls, and celebrities—the hair weave game has proliferated American culture like the Ipod. Now you have older women, moms, pre-teens, government workers, corporate types, deaconesses, and everyone else under the sun rushing to get horse or some poor Indian girls hair (depending on yr economic strata) glued to their scalp in an effort to improve their looks. Urban streets look like Herbal Essence commercials.

And you have white people, who for some reason call them hair “extensions” (I guess hair weave sounds way too urban) almost knocking the sistas down to get to the front of the hair weave line. Its insanity. What is behind this obsession with fake hair?
As a black woman, who like most other black women has struggled with esteem issues related to my hair, I cant help feeling disturbed at the amount of women who just chuck what they’re born with in search of Hollywood ideals. Now I wont bore you with the whole European standards of beauty argument as I have grown tired of that spiel. White is right, black get back. OK, you all get it. But i do think it is an abolutely legitimate concern. What are we showing our daughters and other young girls who look at us for guidance about self-esteem and being proud of how God made them when they see us covering our own hair with 6 inches of weave every 2 months?
On top of that, I think there is something else going on here. (wait for it, wait for it…)
There seems to be a national trend in all of our lives to too-easily chuck what we have in search something better. Instead of loving your locks and nursing them and making them the best they can be– because oh no, that may actually take time and energy– we just cover it up with a bunch of fake shit and walk out of the salon or cousin’s basement (depending on yr economic strata) feeling better about ourselves. When really what we did is cop out. I see such beautiful girls with beautiful hair rushing to cover it up with something that can be bought and sold by anyone.
What makes you you, is what God gave you. But these days its never enough. We are in an age when nothing is ever enough. Your job isn’t glamorous enough, your marriage isn’t exciting enough, your car isn’t expensive enough, your mortgage isn’t upside-down enough. And now, to add to our obsession with deficiency, if your hair doesn’t cover your tittays, it isn’t long enough, so we buy more. We want to be someone else, look like someone else because that girl we want to look like– her life looks cool. Our life generally sucks. Too often instead of working hard on something real, we comfort ourselves by buying something to cover the problem up or just replacing what we think falls short. We do it with relationships, friendships, careers, cell phones and now hair. And much like our revolving door lives, we rarely find what we’re looking for, we often get hurt and sometimes the glue damages the scalp. So, I know it is cliché but love thyself people.
So whether its just you feeling bad about yourself and the hair God gave you, or whether you’re just looking for beauty in all the wrong places, its unlikely that 5 feet of Yaki weave will really help things.

Jam the American

Ok, I could really care less. If people want to pile of bunch of flammable horse hair on their dome, then what business is it of mine? Im so tired of hearing about this European standard of beauty—get over it. If you want to look more European, more power to you—if not, that’s fine too, you always gonna look black to other black people anyway. Though I consider myself a proud black female, I fall victim to the European standard of beauty sometimes, and guess what, it doesn’t kill me. Yes, I think my clothes look better when I shed some pounds—yes, I get texturizers to make my hair easier to manage— so fucking sue me. I get cornrows sometimes with extensions, so I wanna be white? Gimme a break. Its not that deep. Whats the difference between putting on a hair weave and putting on fake nails or toe nail polish or fake eyelashes? None of it is real, none of it should be taken too seriously. Its all cosmetic.
All this talk about its greater meaning or cultural implications is a relic of a distant past. These days we can look like whatever we want, we change our looks like we change our tampons–often. We are bold and don’t want to be limited to the options presented to us by our bodies. All this talk about us not liking who we are is some bullshit being presented by the Dr. Frances Cress Welsing crowd who would believe that white supremacists made rice white, snow white and our teeth white, just to fuck with us. The same crew who believes that wearing anything less than an afro and dashiki is a symptom of self-hatred. No, I don’t believe that America created AIDS to kill black people. Am I less black? Can I live? We’re here, we’re black, get over it. Every single little thing isn’t self-hate, its self-expression, so shut it with all the deep, introspective weave talk and allow me to toss my long blonde tresses as I see fit.
I wish people would talk more about raising kids right and prospering in this society instead of worrying about what people are wearing on their heads or doing to their bodies. Then maybe we can make some real progress. Hair weaves—who cares, don’t we have more important business to take care of?
Negro, Please.

105 Responses to “Hair Weaves: A Colloquy”

  1. shwalker1214 on 12 May 2008 at 11:01 am #

    I actually like hair weave, I think it enhances a women natual beauty. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. If hair weave etc. is the only problem that someone have in their life, shit I need their life.

  2. Anonymous on 12 May 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    Well first of all, people do talk about raising our children responsibility and uplifting the community, etc etc etc. It’s not an either/or conversation. We can talk about all these issues and we should. Individuals have the right to do what they want, and to not be judged by their sisters for their choices. That’s obvious. And personally, I don’t care what a woman wears on her head. HOWEVER, in a society such as ours, with a history such as we have, a conscious person would ask herself why she makes the choices she makes. Not only with hair but with everything. There is such a thing as internalized racism and it does deeply affect our people. Check out that sister’s update on the famous Clark doll experiments if you don’t believe it. So if a sister asks herself why she’s wearing a weave and the answer is, because I want to and yes I love my beautiful black self I say more power to her. But she needs to ask herself. Because our daughters are watching and internalizing this stuff, and it is deeply deeply damaging.

  3. adanie14 on 12 May 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    I love when India Arie made the song I am not my hair. Black women have been depicted so negatively over something as small as a hairstyle. I love my black sisters no matter how they choose to wear their hair. Just remember everything we do white women just copy it and call it something else. I admit over the years my opinion of what looks good on me has changed. I’ve gone natural and I’m loving my beautiful hair that I was born with. As a black woman I know how hard it can be when people call you nappy head and assume that all women must have a perm or get their hair pressed in order to be pretty. I thank God that I have found the strength to look in my mirror and love the woman I see staring back at me. Natural, Beautiful, ME!

  4. Jamaican Girl on 12 May 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    I know I know…I too have the dual personality. I too have always been on the fence when it comes to hair. I was was blessed with thick black (coarse/nappy) hair. As a child my (young)mother didn’t know what to do w/ it so I went thru braids, perms, hot combs, jerry curls, etc. So my hair never got to see its potential. Now that I’m older(28), I’m still having that everlasting desire for long hair. It’s not just that I want to have it, I look better with long hair. I don’t even wear a full head weave right now. I just have tracks in the back of my head for length (since my hair broke off bad back there). I always get hit on by guys regardless but when I get a weave, my GAAAAWD! It’s raining men! Besides, it’s OUR men who won’t accept our hair. I think more black women would go natural or go weave-less if their men wasn’t stressing long hair. Hell when I did go natural at 19 (because of severe breakage) my boyfriend had a heart attack. He was totally against it. Even women in my grandmother’s church was telling my grandmother I was to pretty to have my hair like that. So after being teased about being nappy so many times and feeling like damn, this is not the business, at 23 I re-enslaved myself back to the perm and I refuse to ever go natural again. Call it self-hate but it is what it is. I just don’t like nappy hair anyway.

  5. Quesha on 12 May 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    Wow…I guess I am going to be in the minority here. I am natural, with long hair, no fake nails, and hardly ever any make up. How I wake up, is pretty much how I look for the rest of day. So saying that you have to have a weave to have long hair is some BS. It is the chemicals that break our hair. If you have to use gloves to apply, should you really be putting it on your head? We really have been conditioned. And yes, it is a form of self-hatred. All that $hit is just fake and a form of cover-up because you feel that you aren’t pretty enough or good enough or whatever reason.

    Trust me, I was conditioned long enough. Spending hours upon hours in the shop. Now I am natural and nappy and loving me in all my natural, un-fake hotness.

    I definitely think all of this flows into each other. If you love yourself, you try to improve yourself. Then you should try to improve your surroundings. If you love yourself, it will translate to your kids, they will love themselves too. It is an on-going cycle. Self-love should lead to self-inprovement. But like I said, I will probably be in the minority in this convo cause I know women get kinda sensitive about their hair.

  6. Anonymous on 12 May 2008 at 8:08 pm #

    I too experience the pyschosis of duality, and to make it worse I can’t change that because I am a Gemini. Anyway, like you and many others, I understand both sides. But the problem for me is not about what style women wear. Women should be able to wear whatever style they want and not be penalized or ostracized. I just don’t agree with the idea of conforming. Most women won’t admit it but the men are the often the ones they wear weaves for. True or not, I think a lot of Black women believe that men are mostly attracted to women with straight, long hair. But here’s a clue ladies. If you’re attractive, you’re attractive — weave down the crack or nap below the cap. Your hairstyle only enhances that. Another thing — this whole debate about “fake” or real is whack. Anything that you put into on on your body that wasn’t there when you were born is fake. So if a woman calls another woman fake because she wears a weave, that same woman better not have her ear pierced.

  7. OG, The Original Glamazon on 12 May 2008 at 10:33 pm #

    Oh why do I love you and your personification of duality!?! I feel the same way, but really don’t we all!! I am a proud wig wearer who’s natural unpermed locks sit corn rowed in a circle under my wigs, so my wigs fit snugger and I have something to pin them too. I wore my hair natural and out for several years and just tired of it and wanted a change. I wear all styles from long and straight to damn near the same texture as my own hair if I would give it the TLC it requires to be worn out.

    My primary reason for wigs is that I just don’t know what to do with my soft fine thick head of hair the care it takes etc. plus I love to change colors and styles like underwear, and that would not last for my hair. It usta be, as black women, the changing of hair was something that was ours you know the versatility of going from Halle to Naomi in hours, now the rest of the world done caught on (not just the white models and superstars like before), you know like ox tails and jerk chicken.

    I definitely think it’s less about European standards as I see tons of women getting fake locks and braids as I do getting yaki down the backi. I think it’s more about options and the WHOLE BEAUTY industry is a sham for ALL WOMEN. I mean even white women don’t live up to the dang standards. They aren’t tan enough or blonde enough or skinny legged, and big breasted enough. Although I know we are talking about US and not THEM.

    It is true it seems almost everyone is sporting weave these days. What gets me is the assumption that you wear hair because you can’t grow hair or don’t have hair that still persist in our community. Or that by wearing fake hair you can’t be a militant BLACK POWER the revolution will not be televised kinda gir! I mean after all didn’t madam CJ walker invent the perm for manageability back then no one was trying to get a relaxer to look like Jennifer Aniston, they just wanted manageability. In its natural state our hair requires the most care just because of the texture and how it absorbs moisture add in a bunch of other ancestry mixed in from slavery and you talk about some duality.

    I remember at my last job, where I openly talked about the fact that the hair coming out of my head ain’t really COMING OUT OF MY HEAD! I dewigged for some co-workers. I mean I had been working there for almost three years and maybe wore my hair in a bun or pony tail once or twice. I had just unbraided and washed my hair to be re-braided for my trip here and so I said sure when asked to see my real hair since it wasn’t all braided up Thelma style! My one black co-worker said….OH MY you r hair is long why don’t you just wear it. I said because I don’t wear hair to pretend I can have long hair, I wear it as a fashion accessory and MY identity is not at all tied up in it. It just floored me that today in 2008 women still think you are bald headed under a wig or a weave. I mean if I fried and dyed and cut and styled my hair as much as the weaves allowed me I would be bald. And really why can’t I have an Asymmetrical bob one day and Farah Fawcet the next, it’s my beauty right! *lol*

    I have tons of pictures of natural hair and I will tell you in a minute this is NOT mine if you compliment me on my hair or ask me where I got it done. I make NO apologies for my love of hair! If my soft natural hair would stay braided or I had the patience to wait for it to lock I would, but hey I am not my hair nor am I my WIG/WEAVE! Who I am is not defined by any of that, I worked through them issues a LONG TIME ago!

    Great Post, as always!!!


  8. OG, The Original Glamazon on 12 May 2008 at 10:34 pm #

    I am so sorry I BLOGGED in your comments section!


  9. jamdonaldson on 12 May 2008 at 10:39 pm #

    “yaki down the backi”— LOL–i love it OG!

  10. Anonymous on 13 May 2008 at 1:04 am #

    I’m not going to get in the Euro vs. African standard of beauty thing.

    I have two thoughts about weaves. First; In 10 or 15 years these woman who wear weaves are going to have some embarrassing pictures to look at from back in the day. Second; I just don’t get the point of wearing a weave if everyone knows it’s a weave.


  11. Anonymous on 13 May 2008 at 1:07 am #

    Oh one more thnig; Koreans are getting richselling “hair” to Black woman. And from what I hear if a Black person tries to open a business selling weave hair, the Korean owned distributors shut them out.


  12. sweatytechnique on 13 May 2008 at 2:38 am #

    Jam– What’s up with your ads??? The comments section really isn’t the place to address this issue, but it’s the only area of your blog that I could “sneak in” before the full page pop up ads blocked my way to reading enjoyment. Please fix this hack (I surmise that it’s a hack) so I can get my read/ponder/giggle on. Thanks!

  13. Deborah on 13 May 2008 at 10:10 am #

    -”None of it is real, none of it should be taken too seriously. Its all cosmetic.

    All this talk about its greater meaning or cultural implications is a relic of a distant past. These days we can look like whatever we want, we change our looks like we change our tampons–often. We are bold and don’t want to be limited to the options presented to us by our bodies. “

    All these years black women have been neurotic about their hair, thinking that if we wear weave, wigs, or hair extentions or straighten our hair we aren’t being black enough or we hate our natural selves, then what happens?
    I’m astonished at how white women have caught on to the hair weave/extention/straightening craze, nearly every celeb wants to sport this look, it’s seen as glamorous and fashionable now for them, and I think that’s the way black women have always seen it too.

  14. MissJay on 13 May 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    My hair is relaxed, not because I hate myself, because I can’t put a comb through it without causing a migrane if it’s not relaxed. lol Weave is a whole different issue. I personally like the idea of wearing a wig though. I have long hair and sometimes want to have a short cut without really cutting my hair. I haven’t worn a wig yet (except when playing in my grandma’s closet when I was little) but have been entertaining the idea. I don’t think it’s self hate unless you actually do it to gain approval from someone.

  15. beautifldreamr7 on 13 May 2008 at 2:42 pm #

    My hair is relaxed and has been since I was about 12. I have been wearing weave since 1998. I like weave. I will continue to wear weave. As long as I’m around, Mei Ling will never go out of business. Anyone who comes to me with that “you wear weave because you hate yourself!!” crap can jump up my ass. The only man on this planet whose opinion I care about concerning my appearance is Steven Spielberg (and maybe George Lucas). If you want me to care about your opinion, get a movie studio that can hire me!

  16. OG, The Original Glamazon on 13 May 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    I had to reply to Monie’s comments.

    The first comment
    “I have two thoughts about weaves. First; In 10 or 15 years these woman who wear weaves are going to have some embarrassing pictures to look at from back in the day. Second; I just don’t get the point of wearing a weave if everyone knows it’s a weave.”

    I don’t think I will be any more embarrassed than I was when I looked at the pictures of me with my own hair stacked to and waterfalled while wearing neon color block and biker shorts. The embarrassment WON’T be about the weave. I already been wearing weave for 10 years plus. Does Robin Givens look at her Head of the Class reruns and feel embarrassed about her weave?

    The point of a weave/wig, to me, is not deception it is to achieve a look, a color, a highlight or a texture that helps with what ever look I think is hot today. It’s about glamour. If you don’t get glamour you don’t really get the appeal. Hey there are plenty of women who love being plain Janes and I love them as plain Janes. Weave/wigs are NOT for everyone. I won’t hate on them wearing their hair the same old way for 18 years, so they shouldn’t hate on me for changing mine every two seconds. Different strokes for different folks!

    The second on what the Koreans are doing, could you please step in from 1983?

    Honey, the Koreans aren’t even the ones selling the hair. The Chinese really have the market on lock ESPECIALLY when we talk high end wigs, like lace fronts (the wigs that Bey, Tyra, Mary, Christina A, and lots of celebrities are wearing). Most black women are wearing Indian Remy but the stuff that is closer to our relaxed texture and strand thickness is the Chinese Remy! Surprisingly, the Chinese vendors don’t discriminate and there are quite a few black women in the lace front game MAKING MAJOR cash and quite a name. They are helping women, who can’t grow hair (alopecia), have lost hair (cancer and other diseases) and who LOVE hair (ME!!) all at once. I ain’t mad at em.

    I’d advise that you check your facts before you just go off. You don’t see me going off about what’s happening in the natural hair game, because I don’t have a clue. Just because you don’t understand doesn’t make it wrong or right. I’m sorry, Jam hair is one of those things for me. *lol*


  17. jamdonaldson on 13 May 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    not 1983…

  18. Anonymous on 13 May 2008 at 6:20 pm #

    OG, The Original Glamazon,

    Read this month’s (May) Ebony, page 140. There is an interesting piece about the ‘hair’ market and the Korean control of it.

    Also I don’t know where you live but in my area the anecdotal evidence suggests that Koreans have cornered the market on selling ‘hair’ to Black women.


  19. Melinda on 13 May 2008 at 8:52 pm #

    I love all of my sistas regardless of how you choose to style your hair. And really…your hairstyle is small french fries compared to what’s really going on in the world…and its not indicator of how you are as a mother, nor does it define your heart or your integrity….


    I won’t sit up here and say that sistas aren’t afraid of letting go of the tracks and creamy crack because of the conditioned belief that the curl of their nap is hideous. Cause real talk…if a sista can’t have hair like Tracey Ellis Ross then what’s the point of being natural?

    Having choices are spectacular! But sistas…let’s not front that some of us..just some of us…are afraid to let our natural beauty shine through because we are afraid that our families and our brothers won’t accept us. Let’s not front that on some level the creamy crack is a small form of self-hatred.

    And I really don’t care that white women are using extensions, tracks and weaves too. That’s our problem..we are always using white folks as a measuring stick for beauty. And until we can love ourselves unconditionally we’ll always be afraid of getting our hair wet.

  20. OG, The Original Glamazon on 13 May 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    I remember this scenario of Koreans corning the market on selling hair, doing nails, and owning dry cleaners, especially on the West Coast, in the 80′s and 90′s. Is that still true, I mean simply put I think in today’s day and age many of us don’t want to go into those type of service industries. So we don’t not because of denial, but because we chose to spend our time and talent other places. That notion of being blocked by the Asians in certain service industry is a very old story.

    We as blacks have chosen many different niches in the very lucrative beauty industry. I know a few black owned day spas etc, where we prefer to do that than sell the supplies to the masses, plus the mark up in the beauty supply business really is not that great. And really you might buy your hair from Ming Nah, but LaQuanisha or Fatima or Amy (we don’t all have ghetto names!!) is probably the one putting it in, and there is far more money in installing hair than buying the actual hair, for the record. Whether you are a licensed stylist or a kitchen table beautician!

    I am not even gonna touch on the up to date information Ebony provides its readers is often not the most up to date. I know that has often been my complaint of both Johnson publications, the tend not to have their finger on the pulse or to be fair my pulse and what is relevant to me as a 35 year old black professional woman. Plus, look at the outfits in Fashion Fair how up to date is that couture? Ok Imma stop playing. But I gotta know was that May issue dated 2008, right? I tried to go to the internet and search for the article and I saw it in the web search, but when I clicked nothing happened. No comment.

    Check the internet and you will find a lot of hair selling going on from China these days, not Korea. I guess China is the new black! You will find tons of BLACK women running sites selling high end weave and wigs, like Essence’s Susan Taylor’s daughter and her Custom Crowns line which is owned and operated out of ATL.

    Like I said there are tons of Black women selling hair and not being BLOCKED out of it by Koreans, or Asians period. Sure they might not be selling that low end weave that you can easily spot, which totally makes sense as to why you think women will be horrified at their pictures 10-15 years later, but they are selling hair. I bet you probably know a sister, depending where you live, sporting a wig/weave so flawless you would faint if she snatched it off and showed you she bought it. While I don’t care who knows there are plenty of sisters who painstakingly go through the motions to ENSURE you WILL NEVER KNOW!! I have had people ask me to show them where or how my hair is not my hair, because they could have SWORN it was mine.

    A friend of mine is a distributor and seller of hair and doing well for her self. I guess if you’re only familiar with the weave game being the hair you buy in your beauty supply, you could be led to believe that blacks are being cornered out. However most black women in the game are weave wearers themselves and are looking to sell something of MORE quality than you would ever see hanging in Chung Fam’s beauty supply. Again the internet, it is doing wonders for changing the game in ALL retail areas. Has Ebony reported on that? Of course not, they can’t even set their links up right to work in there own search powered by Google. Go to eBay do a search for Lace fronts tell me what comes up? Just know MANY of those sellers are black women and the rest are probably Chinese.

    The evidence where I have lived (Houston) and currently live (Boston) shows that while Asians own a good amount of them, but there are also many African and other retailers running beauty supplies. It pains me think there is some Korean mafia keeping black women out of the game in your hood, but hey I don’t live near you, so fight the power! Is Ice Cube still rocking his curl too?

    All joking aside, what I am saying is Asians distributing hair is different from store front retailing. If you can get a distributor which you can via internet then you can open a store front if you want, many black women business owners are choosing not to, because it’s not the business model of the 21st century. Now the Koreans might try to do something shady to prevent that, but that’s another story for another day.

    From my own experience, I have bought plenty of bags of hair straight from Quandong and no one is denying me access. Is some Korean denying you access to bulk buying 99 cent Dolphin earrings and synthetic lime green hair that would melt if touched with a curling iron? If so, I stand corrected, add I acquiesce that in some places we are not being allowed to sell low quality fake hair, tube socks, and 30 day old Paul Mitchell.

    Trust the stuff you seeing on the walls in your local Korean BSS, even the high end stuff, wouldn’t even make it to Beyonce’s second cousins sister-in-law’s baby daddy’s cousins house as scrap for them to wear. They got some high end stuff that will make YOU think it’s yours once it is sewn in and you bought it and watched the stylist sew it in? Plus look at all the high end black stylists who are coming out with their own hair lines and high end studios like Ellen Levar and Oscar James. Maybe we just are setting our sights higher than the owning the corner BSS these days.

    In Boston the local beauty supply I happened upon was owned by an African man. And I am told in NYC many of the beauty supplies are owned by others (as in not Asian), I can’t confirm or deny that (but I will I will be taking that 4 hour train ride soon, because NYC is the FAKE HAIR MECCA!!! *lol*)

    I guess I just thought it interesting as a person who doesn’t understand why people wear weave, so I am assuming does NOT wear it, can then turn around and try to school us on the practices based on a article she read in Ebony. It’s like Rush Limbaugh trying to tell me about the shortage of black men because he read about it in Ebony. I mean sure it maybe true but there are people out there disproving it as fact and he only knows what he has read so all he can do is quote from a book. I’m not gonna let him cause me to go into hysterics when his facts can’t be collaborated at all by any real world experience. I may let him tell me the sky is falling, but you BEST believe Imma do a little research on my own before I just take HIS word for it and pass it as gospel. Feel me?

    Then again I am immersed in hair and know a lot about it from my love of it to information I get from friends who love it more than I do and are in the business of selling it, so, I know not to believe the hype.

    Most black women I KNOW who are retailers are selling high end high quality hair not what you would find in the stereo-typical Asian beauty supply. They are selling on e-bay and websites that cater to those who are serious about there weave game or even supplying high end black salons with hair for their clients. Who needs to care about being shut out when you can enter the market that way? There is room for both and both are happening and thriving…NO DOUBT! This “internets” it’s AMAZING…heard about it?

    Like I said, I’ve been dealing in hair for a minute. So you can quote Ebony all you want but I learned a long time ago you can’t always believe the hype no matter who is bringing it. Hell Hillary is quoting reliable sources every day that says she is the only person who can beat McCain! *eye brow raise* Not everything you read, watch and sometimes think is true! Be EZ, my sister.

    Jam, who knew hair, could cause SUCH a dialogue? *lol* This is what happens when I’m bored at work.


  21. jamdonaldson on 13 May 2008 at 9:52 pm #

    im actually not surprised. not many things can get sistas going like hair talk!

  22. Anonymous on 14 May 2008 at 12:14 am #

    OG, The Original Glamazon,

    I should have known that those poor ignorant Negroes at Ebony couldn’t convince you of anything. Sorry I couldn’t find any info from Time or Newsweek. I’m sure if the White man said it was so you would believe it. (Lol)


  23. beautifldreamr7 on 14 May 2008 at 12:22 am #

    OG, The Original Glamazon, you are my new hero!

    (Damn, I didn’t even know you could buy hair on Ebay! Going to check it out right now!!)

  24. jamdonaldson on 14 May 2008 at 12:28 am #

    LMAO at beautifldreamr7 heading to Ebay!!! Y’all make my day. I love it.

  25. Quesha on 14 May 2008 at 1:12 am #

    Wow. I have thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue. Black women and hair, the great debate. This is almost as intense as the child-free debate.

  26. Anonymous on 14 May 2008 at 3:40 am #

    Excuse my ignorance but what is lace front weave?

  27. Finn Kristiansen on 14 May 2008 at 7:00 am #

    Going off the hair for a second and onto the credibility of black publications, I would tend to believe that some of them are not the most accurate, and should be one source among many.

    I love Black Enterprise, but they have long had a dreadful habit of never telling a company’s earnings. Most of the pieces are positive and puff, and only years later do you find that some business collapsed or was not making a dime. Kind of the difference between a Businessweek and Black Enterprise.

    So it wouldn’t surprise me if Ebony was not quite on point with the facts of the weave market as of today.

    I saw the whole hair thing play out in my two nieces who were half white. One had long straight hair, the other big beautiful fluffy nappy hair. They were practically toddlers and getting at each other, with the older fluffier one tormenting the younger.

  28. OG, The Original Glamazon on 14 May 2008 at 11:45 am #

    LMAO!! Actually, those poor Negroes at Ebony couldn’t convince me of anything and neither would have those poor white folks at Time/Newsweek. The media is just that MEDIA and viewpoints black white or purple don’t make things so. You should know any fact can be sliced to meet your agenda, watch NPR and Fox News report on the SAME factual incident. I take my media with a grain of what I see and know. And if I don’t know much I certainly would NOT take what one media source SAYS as the END ALL BE ALL.

    Just so you know many BLACK media outlets are now white owned or whites own a majority of them like Essence which has been bought by Time Warner much like how Bob Johnson sold BET. Many other “black” media outlets are black in name only and no longer black owned. Thank GOD for Radio One and they are just majority black owned I believe not solely. However I’m not sure about that so I will say that now.

    All I said is once source doesn’t make it so, even if the source is black. I cited many instances of black women NOT being cornered out and will have cited it weather you quoted Newsweek, Time, or the Wall Street Journal. Ebony is not the Bible of black folks no more than Jessie, Al or even Barack is our spokesperson. That’s all I’m saying, Monie!!

    And of course you want to question my BLACKNESS because I won’t believe other blacks because they are black! Oh well I am who I am you thinking of me as weave wearing wanna be isn’t going to change who I am or how I live or the fact that I am black. We are who we are simply by living. I’m done, this is getting to be way too much for me, and really there is nothing to debate. We as black women have more options with hair than you can shake a stick at and to me its just one of those great things about being a black woman!

    Finn, I feel you on black publications I love them, but as you said many are not the most reliable. Just like the Enquirer isn’t the most reliable either and its not black owned. I judge things on content of character, not color of the magazine owners.

    Anonymous, a Lace Front is a high end wig that is actually hair strands that are attached to lace so it gives the wearing the look of hair coming out of his or her head. Lots of toupees, good ones, are made with lace as their base. You should be able to wiki it or google it. Many of today celebs wear them today, mostly made famous by Beyonce and Tyra. Some women who wear weaves opt for tracks and then a lace closure instead of full units. Wait…I could be killed if I told you more.

    Beautifuldreamr, eBay HAS E’RRY THING!! E’RRY THANG!!

    Be EZ

  29. Dr. Kiti on 15 May 2008 at 5:19 pm #

    This post is sooo well said. Great job. I often toil with the same issues of duality and you’ve summed it up beautifully.

    I personally like the thought of weaves. For a busy bee like me, I don’t have time to deal with my hair and give it the TLC it deserves so why sacrifice to the daily grind? Why not just toss it under a wig or weave? Hell, I can’t even swim b/c of leftover fear that my mama will whup my ass if I get my hair wet (and I’m damn near 30)! I can’t really afford to look the way I’d like to on a daily basis so I deal with my own hair, but I wouldn’t mind a break to wear someone else’s!

    I have a lot of admiration for the artistry and magic that goes into a really good, convincing, life-like weave or wig. I feel like somebody threw down! I have no problem complimenting a sistah that I see out working her fresh tresses, knowing I’d be doing the same thing if I could afford to.

    Jam on lady, Jam on!

  30. E. Peevie on 16 May 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    Am I allowed to comment here? I am only an honorary sista. But I found you all, and you are totally making my day, and OG, I admire your tenacity, civility, and–I need another “ity” word, but can’t find one–your ability to make a clear, logical, supported argument.

    Jam, thanks for an entertaining, educational blog. I’ll be back.

  31. Anonymous on 16 May 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    good post. I like the duality point, it’s true that when one tries to pontificate too much, it’s bound to happen that cross-statements will occur. there are at least two sides to every opinion, it’s creative of you to address different angles within the same blog.

    and just FYI, whit epeople call them “extensions” becasue that’s what they were originally called. Blacks called them extensions too, originally. Don’t believe me, check out Too $hort circa 1984, rappin “I see the long haired bitches/ workin extensions/ your hair ain’t really but three inches”

    sorry to drop the b-bomb, just quoting the lyrics to say that yes, extensions was the term used since back in the day (and you can’t get no more hood than Too $hort lol!)

    I do agree with the above poster too, why wear extensions when everyone knows it’s fake? makes you look foolish sometimes.

    But hey, I’d rather see regular-colored weaves than these sisters rockin that “kool-aid” crap with the bright purple bangs, or even worse doin the beyonce look with all blonde

  32. Ang on 16 May 2008 at 11:34 pm #

    Whew! That Hair Thang is b!tch, ain’t it?

    I’m wearing my hair unrelaxed; I won’t call it “natural” because I wear some flat irons OUT straightenin’ my ‘do between visits to the shop!

    I, too, suffer from duality. Why can’t my hair be accepted just as it grows from my scalp: fine, thin, curly in the back, wavy in the top, and some kinda craziness on the sides? BUT, if I wanna bind it up and slap on a wig, whatsittoya?

    OG, girl, you need a blog! PLEASE set up a blog! ‘Cuz a sistah like me could use some info from a hair diva such as yourself! Hair on eBay? Africans and African Americans selling weave? On my hair blog all I do is b!tch about my hair…

    Jam, leave it to you to write something that gets errbody’s back up!

  33. almondjoy on 16 May 2008 at 11:48 pm #

    To be honest, I never really cared about the whole black (women’s) hair argument until I went to grad school, found myself too broke for $80 relaxers and $200 salon braids–so I decided to go natural due to poverty. The uproar I got (from my black family and friends, no less) was enough to make me do it in the mirror with hair scissors for spite. (And b/c of other various realizations). I’ve been natural two years, and the main reasons I don’t want a perm or weave are because 1) I can’t stand stuff sewn or glued to my head, and 2) relaxers make my hair break off.

    However, I am not the nappy evangelist. I don’t look at people with weave and think that they don’t have hair or that they hate themselves. Some of that stuff is creative to me (i.e. blue weave with blue outfit). What does concern me is a weaved-up five year-old, or girls with too little neck strength to hold up booty-length ponytails. Or with too little self-value to know that you can grow it as long/nappy/straight as you like–bump society.

    Jam hit it on the head with the duality thing. Hair ain’t deep, but it is deep. When you talk about media representation of black women, from sight-only, I see black actresses and entertainers wearing mostly weaves. I have never once wondered if Beyonce’s hair…was Beyonce’s hair. Sometimes I wonder why that is, and why it’s got to be all the way down to the hem of her mini-dress.

    Other days, I could care less about being all up in other chicks’ hair. I got my own to deal with.

  34. Ang on 17 May 2008 at 12:25 am #

    Dangit, if I’d been payin’ attention OG, I would have realized that you DO have a blog! It’s just not about hair…

  35. jamdonaldson on 17 May 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I have to say I feel kinda bad for beyonce (i mean, not really) because you’ll see her on the beach or on vacation with all that hair. It just looks so hot and uncomfortable. Aint nothing worse than a whole lot fake hair in the hot ass sun. And you know she probably just wishes she could lay out in the sun just once without that damn wig on. Its unfortunate that celebrities, once you commit to the wig, you just cant go back without getting clowned by the world. And she would probably look just fine with her own hair. Poor thing. (but not really)

  36. OG, The Original Glamazon on 19 May 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    Jam, don’t feel (not really)sorry. Bey was trained in weave wearing in one of the HOTTEST and HUMIDIEST American city, Houston, my hometown, until recently. I was born in Houston metro small town about 30 minutes N and a father from the H. So I was raised between the two places.

    Weave wearing is like training for track if you can run in Houston sweltering summers then you can run ANYWHER (ala Carl Lewis!). The same is for wearing a weave if you can wear a weave/wig in Houston’s sweltering heats; all that hair ain’t nothing on a tropical island with a breeze!! *lol*

    Let me stop, but you are right, Jam the summertime is the hardest to have extra hair luckily I try to stay with a thickness that is not over the top like Bey’s whose own hair is pretty thick as well (so she’d be hot no matter what). I think the fact I do sew-ins when I wear them helps because your hair is ALL BRAIDED UP. Wigs in the summer have a sister doing the snatch off as SOON as my face steps into MY PLACE!!

    I just stopped by to see if you had blogged. You know I had to say something. Thanks to everyone for the kudos!!!


  37. Anonymous on 20 May 2008 at 12:26 am #

    Y’all should check out “Black hair Documentary” (also listed as “Aron ranen’s black hair documentary”) on you tube. According to that and many in the business it is the Koreans who have the hair business locked down in the hood courtesy of a ban placed on the import of chinese hair (im not sure if it has been lifted or not). Maybe the chinese found a loop hole and are trying to corner the market on wigs.

    OG im from dallas and I can remember when the hair store was run by chinese folks, but it has been over 10 years since i went natural so I’m sure alot has changed. One thing that has not changed is how we as black women feel so strongly about our hair. I have had braids, relaxers and extentions/weaves and now i am natural. i went natural because it is easy for me. I dont have to sit for hours and hours to get my hair done and I can go swimming when I want to and thunder clouds have no power over me.
    I say to each her own. no we are not our hair, but your hair does say alot about you. As long as you define yourself and dont let others define you. At the end of the day its just hair.


  38. Anonymous on 20 May 2008 at 1:07 am #

    Having black friends, white friends, Asian friends, Latino friends, Native American friends – one thing I can say that’s a common thread that holds ALL us gals together: we don’t like our hair. Curly wants straight, straight wants curly, thick wants thinner, thin wants thicker. We’ve all been told to accept our bodies, but it seems like our hair is the last one on our list to embrace.

  39. jayj on 23 May 2008 at 4:36 am #

    if you got a receipt, its your hair.

    This is way too much analysis over a minor cosmetic choice! Next we will be reading about the lotion choices that indicate manic-depressive personalities.

  40. Andrea on 24 May 2008 at 10:51 am #

    Your posts always start off on a high and then they up with some highwire ending.

    To consider that hairweave is not a destructive relative to the rally cry you make about raising kids, you show your lack of expertise to understand how values are connected and translated to children.

    1) There was a finding that Black women who use chemicals such as perms have a green lining on their scalps. The perm is the precursor for the weave.

    2) I taught schools were little girls had hairweave because their hair was broken off. They had not yet reached puberty yet.

    3) I taught girls who had no edges because they or their guardian or some adult had permed their heads so much they no longer had that inch of edges. There edges were gone. Then they try to over-compensate with a long weave.

    4) So many women use the weave to look like Europeans, Asians, and “Others (Biracials)” because of negation they receive in their communities and their families foremost. That is a public health issue: mental health.

    I can keep going. But our mental health is paramount for survival. We have been operating on conditions. We love conditionally and we submit with provisions to ourself. How sick! We are sick!

    I don’t have easy-to-comb hair and I have to get up and go to work in a corporate establishment. I wear my hair natural and so does all the Sistas. We refuse to use those excuses.

    If you don’t have time, cut it off or dedicate a few months to start locs. It’s simple. But if you want length, it does not take long to grow a substantial length that can be hot pressed. Most people I know who get their hair pressed, they all have a good length. We tend to just want our lengths down our backs.

    It’s called sacrifice. Why can’t we sacrifice our time and offer to committment to have healthier bodies and minds. You can’t or should not run a family on “I’ma do what the fuck I wanna’ do at this point”. This is why the Black Community is so fucked up: selfishness and gross independence when we were never a people with the social make-up to practice individualism. It does not beat sustainability for us.

    I hear people decry the ideas of collectivism as infringement and fascism but we are not equipped as a people to continue on ideas of independent leisure. We were never engineered to survive through it.

    Hair weave is a public health issue. We dismiss it because we are absolutely uneducated about what public health is and its foundation for any civilized society’s credit and sustainable health rating.

  41. jamdonaldson on 24 May 2008 at 11:26 am #

    OK, hold the phone. I clearly state in the first half of the post that i think weaves communicate to children the wrong messages regarding self-image. But even in that comment, it was addressed to adults wearing weaves. I dont think even the staunchest weave advocates would want children to have weaves and perms. We are talking about decisions grown folks make. Please dont mischaracterize what i said. Of course i dont think kids should have weaves or perms, i am dead set against that. I dont think that they should have long ass braid extensions either.

    The whole point of the post is to acknowledge that there are two sides to every story. Its interesting, when i was saying something you agreed with (the first half) you say the post started off high, but when i stated a position you disagreed with you called it a highwire ending. I wish we would stop denigrating everyone’s ideas because they may be different from our own.

    The whole point of the post was that my views shift and change and i feel conflicted about it. Do i honestly believe everyone with a weave does it out of self-hatred? Especially in a generation that grew up doing it as a fashion statement? Not sure. In a world where everyone knows everything with such certainty, Can i just be not sure?

    Your hypothesis that weaves = self-hatred, i just dont know if its that simple anymore.

  42. Quesha on 24 May 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    Maybe hate is a very strong word, maybe Black folk’s hang up on constantly fixing themselves, altering things, and assimilation is self-dislike.

    Do we add dangerous chemicals to our heads because we love ourselves, or because we need to “fix” something? (If you have to use gloves on your hands, why do you think that it is safe to put it on your head?)

    We are soooo conditioned to think that nappy hair is “bad” and soft curly hair is “good.” That is the main reason these kind of topics start a debate. People don’t want to admit that they really don’t like what they look like without all the weave, chemicals, fake nails, and make up. My mom can never leave the house without her “face” on, even tho I think my mom is gorgeous.

    We are always talking about that nappy kitchen and tough new growth, and we wonder why kids have a negative self image. Number one, nothing that they see on TV can naturally be attained, all of that is airbrushed and FAKE, FAKE, FAKE. Then their everyday role models are not satisfied with themselves and always have to “fix” something.

    Self-hatred is not simple because it is so ingrained in our culture. We are so busy trying to be knock-off white women, with our long blonde and fake hair, trying to be as skinny as white girls, and wonder why our men are jumping ship. Why he want a knock-off white girl when he can get a real white girl.

    Love yourself the way God made you. Yea I wear earrings, yea I even wear a push-up bra, but I damn sure can take all that shit off and love myself in all my glory. Our little girls need to be learning that.

  43. tonorah on 27 May 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    You know.. I am so sick of people trying to tell me what I should do with my hair. When are people going to realize that because you wear your hair in a natural style that makes you more black or you are wearing weave/extensions I am trying to be more European like. Why is it so far fetched that black people could have a “good” grain of hair and we are trying to mimick that. My grandma has the best hair in the world. it is long, not super straight, and healthy. Why cant I want hair like hers? Why isnt it said that white people want to be more black when they perm they hair (their perm makes their hair curly). I know people that wear weaves for different reasons. Me: i wear it because I switch styles every three weeks. I can have the style without the commitment. I am not goin to cut my hair for 3 weeks. My friend has very long hair but it is very fine/thin so she wears it, same texture and length, to make it appear fuller. Yes you have those that go overboard with the blonde and what not but you have people that go to extremes with everything/anything in life. White women that wear weaves/hair extensions, what would you label them as?

    I know a few people that wear there hair natural and try their best to act white and I’m not talking about the pronunciation their words or education either. Would you consider these same women as trying to be white if she has natural hair but dyes it bleach blonde? Or do you have more respect than the weave wearers?

    The problem with us black folks is that we have blogs about things that mean so little to our community. We talk about hair instead of talking about these lousy and horrible videos that our youth is watching. We dont talk about the uselessness of BET or the lack of programs to better our youth but you are commenting on hair…that’s it, hair…real vs fake!!

    There are so many things that you can come at me with and if the best you can come up with is hair? Then I must be doing great in life!!!

  44. jamdonaldson on 27 May 2008 at 11:16 pm #

    Clearly you havent read the rest of the postings in this blog.

    BTW please send me a link to your blog where u discuss “the uselessness of BET and the lack of programs to better our youth” and i’d be happy to add a link to it.

  45. Anonymous on 28 May 2008 at 4:10 am #

    I only saw a little mention of locs…my daughter is four and loves hers–we change the beads or wear no beads, wear pigtails, and now it is long enough for one ponytail in the back; we’ve twisted on blue string and worn headbands. I think she likes the fact that she can shake her head and her hair moves…I think they are gorgeous….any thoughts?

  46. Different Strokes, Different Folks on 28 May 2008 at 11:26 am #

    There are as many reasons why women wear weaves as there are women wearing them. Just like anything else, there are many schools of thought. Whatever the reason, in order to wear it you obviously like it. If you like it then what’s the big deal? If its self-hate and the weave lets you feel better then wear the damn weave and feel better, cause believe me self-hate is NOT going away because you have weave in your hair.

    Many people are dissatisfied with whatever they have, or bored. Women will always want to change or enhance their appearance in many ways, hair is just one of them.

    Who says you gotta like everything God gave you? Yes, HE gave it to you and HE also gave you a free will. If you don’t like somethig about yourself, and you got the power to change it….(‘nuf said) Have no regrets, Life is truly short.

  47. Angel on 28 May 2008 at 3:19 pm #

    I can’t help but laugh at this but they’re both valid points. I think the problems come when you alter yourself out of shame for your identity, not in the name of cosmetic alterations. But then again, I’m mixed with so called “good hair” so I guess that hypocritical of me to say. I will admit that growing up, I was a buyer of Pink Oil relaxers… eventually my folks got tired of the expense and regressed me back to the hot iron on the stove method….now I use a flat iron. At the end of the day…it doesn’t change who I am…or where I’m from…it just means I’ll look a bit (to myself) when I get to where I’m going.

  48. Anonymous on 29 May 2008 at 5:37 am #

    Hair weaves are the worst. If you wear a hair weave everyday then you must realize that you are copping out and ashamed of who you really are in some way.

  49. Janice on 02 Jun 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    I understand how you feel, as I have now gone to the all natural and loving it by the way. I love the way my skin feels now that the chemicals from the perms and texturizers are not dripping into my skin, I love the fact that my dreds shake and and swing just as nice as my hair would have it I had chemicals in it, in fact a lot nicer. But once again, it’s a state of mind you have to grow to. Like learning to enjoy the taste of asparagus, we all know the nutritional benefits of it, but you don’t see a lot of us just running to the grocery store to buy it. It’s an acquired taste. I believe in time just as sure as we have acquired the desire to look like them, we will have a desire again to look like ourselves, just give it time.

  50. candelaria on 02 Jun 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    I am glad to have discovered your site.
    Quick thoughts: women in every culturel in the world have done things to change their looks, enhance their looks. There are even camps in the lock-wearing crowd about manicured locks vs truly locks as they grow so…
    When weaves first appeared on the scene, people tried to make them look like they were natural…same with color – now people are into fantasy weaves, colors (doesn’t matter if roots show or not), braids, etc.
    As an adult – be free. As for children – our parents send messages to us that are none too righteous if they put weaves and fake braids in our hair at an early age.
    I’d like to see people spend more time on being good then looking good along a narrow definition.

  51. kru-cial on 03 Jun 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    i went natural about 4 years ago and it was a challange. i had long draping permed hair, my edges started looking a mess, so i cut it off.
    i think we are obsessed with LONG HAIR, not matter its state.
    when my hair was short, i got the long double strand twists. i wore them until my hair got longer and longer. NOW ITS LONG.
    i love it more….my twists look gorgeous. my friends who have locks say you should lock now, because i would avoid the “ugly phase”.
    jamrock, folk just cant do short and nappy it phucks with the mental.
    its phucks with

  52. Anonymous on 03 Jun 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    i dont think you parents should LOCK your childs hair, you should keep it natural and let them decide if they want locs.

  53. Anonymous on 05 Jun 2008 at 2:35 pm #

    Why don’t more women wear short, neat naturals? As a woman with stick straight hair that can never be short without looking like a marine, I’m so envious of natural wave, curl, afro, anything. It’s what other people here said: grass is always greener on the other side!

  54. Cali on 07 Jun 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    I went to a funeral recently. I SWEAR my sis, mom & I were the ONLY women in the entire place WITHOUT a weave, it was some incredible shit! I mean errrybody was yaktastic (okay, maybe one or 2 little girls didn’t have them… & that baby crying in the corner, but everybody else!!).

    Been loc’d for 8 years now, best decision I ever made! Natural (in any state) ain’t for everybody but it’s working for me. I’d permed for years – it never broke off but it got so weak it wouldn’t even hold a curl, totally lacked body. Shit was just DRY, I had to make a change & loved the look of long flowing locs… & here I am.

    Weaves have pretty much taken over, it’s rare NOT to see them around on peoples heads which is kinda sad imo. It’s not that I care so much about what others do, it’s just that I’ve never liked fake anything on my person. So it’s kinda weird to have loads of folks buy into so much fakery on so many levels (i.e. more than just the hair). I dunno, do what makes you happy… & have the decency to hide yo damn tracks!! LOL…

  55. Anonymous on 08 Jun 2008 at 4:10 am #

    I agree that how a person wears their hair really in the end does not matter.

    I don’t have a weave, but my hair is long(past my shoulders). I relax it myself once a month, and I don’t have problems with breakage or dryness. I wash it, blow dry and flat iron it every other day because it gets sweaty when I exercise.

    Am I just blessed with super strong hair, or do I have magical hair powers? No, the answer is lye relaxer! Not no-lye relaxer.

    The difference between the two is night and day. My hair moves in the wind, is very manageable, and is strong. Lye relaxer is hard to find but you can get it on the internet and in some beauty supply stores. It doesn’t come with directions so be sure that you also get a neutralizing shampoo and gloves of course. You apply it the same way as a no lye relaxer. I read about it in a book called Beautiful Black Hair by Shamboosie that I got on You really don’t need the book but I guess it’s helpful if you’re nervous about taking advice from random people on the internet! :-)

    Anyway I know this sounds like a comercial for lye relaxer, but it’s just that I think that black women should have just as many options as anyone else. And one of those options is to wear our hair however we want. I wear make up, high heels, go shopping for cute clothes, wear jewelry and all the rest, so that my appearance is how I want it to be. That doesn’t mean that I hate my eyelashes (without mascara), my height, or my appearance when I’m not dressed up.

    I think we have enough to deal with without worrying about what, if any, message is in our hairstyles.

    And yeah, so what, part of the reason I relax my hair is because I think men find it more attractive. Big deal. It’s also one of the reasons I wear lipstick and perfume. I think it makes me more attractive, and I feel better about myself when I feel attractive.

    It seems like more often than not black women are expected to somehow rise above the natural desire to be attractive and be more interested in more important things. Well of course I am interested and take part in more important things, but I take care of my appearance as well.

    I think that if a black woman wants to be natural then she should go ahead and do it without any judgements from anyone else. The same thing goes for those who want to wear a weave and those who want to relax their hair. Black women are different and what is perfect for one is not right for another.

  56. Edith on 08 Jun 2008 at 8:47 am #

    Actions speak louder than words. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Believe it or not, everything is connected in one way or the other. Humans observe more than they listen, especially if it is something that completely contradicts what is being said. In other words, doing one thing and telling others to not do what you just did, especially children. They can tell you what they saw more than they can tell you what they heard.

    Everyone who left a comment, whether for natural or unnatural hair should read the Willy Lynch letter.

    In reference to children, they are more perceptive than we are as adults. Psycology says that the first six years of a child’s life is the building block for the rest of their life. I am a witness to that because my parents are raising my 14 year old cousin who came from a less than wholesome background. At 14 years of age, we can only hope for the best because after living with my parents for three years, she still behaves as if she came to live with them yesterday.

    I am not writing this comment for the purpose of continuing the arguement, just telling you all to take a look further back, not just to Madame CJ Walker, but further back a few hundred years.

    The way you carry yourself and what you perceive as you doing it because you want to not because you have an inferiority complex of sorts is bs.

    Black people, we are so psychologically f’ed up, even me with my natural hair, I have self-esteem issues based on the color of my skin, my size among others. The difference is, I acknowledge it and by acknowledging it, I can start to embrace change and love myself as I am. I now have a better understanding of when He said He made me in His image. If I change the way He made me, then I am indirectly telling Him that He did not know what He was doing when He made me black with nappy hair that even a hot iron is scared to touch…LOL! Or if I bleach my beautiful blaccckkkk skin (emphasis on black…LOL!)

    Yes, God gave us free will, but He also said that He will judge us one day. After it is all said and done, you have no one to answer to but God. If you know in your heart that whatever you are doing is right by Him, then more power to you and may He continue to bless you to the day you stand before Him.

  57. Edith on 08 Jun 2008 at 8:57 am #

    I know my comment is all over the place, lack of sleep is my excuse.

    One last point….Believe it or not people, we are the product of our environment, good or bad. If you said that to me a year ago, I would probably fight you and tell you that I am my own person and not influenced by anyone outside of my family, especially the media and society’s perception of beauty. Even strong black women survivors such as Mary J. Blige have succumed to it. Oprah asked her what she would like the most if given the opportunity to have it or do. Ms. Mary said she wanted long hair……

    I will leave it at that.

    Good night/good morning.

  58. Anonymous on 11 Jun 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    Blacks are made to feel inferior about our hair especially by black men. Black men chase after non-black women with long straight hair. So what’s a sister to do? We have to compete with non-black women in the hair department. God forbid if we wear our hair natural. We will be laughed at, especially by our own people.

  59. scholarly mama on 11 Jun 2008 at 11:55 pm #

    I can agree with alot of what was said in this blog and subsequent responses. I’m 37 years old, and growing up in the 70′s and 80′s, my hair was really short, because it wouldn’t grow. The first time I had braided extensions in 1983, I was teased until I took them out. When I had to wear wigs as a teen due to a bad perm, I was almost run out of school because the harassment was so pervasive. When I was in high school, one of the most popular Black students (who had short hair), began to wear a hair weave shortly before her graduation in 1988. She was teased and harassed constantly. A lot of the Black students, especially the Black male population kept singing that Alexander O’Neal song “You’re a Fake”, everytime she walked down the hall at school. It was horrible to see what she went through.

    It’s amazing to see how the tide has turned and how weaves/wigs/falls/extensions have become more-or-less acceptable in our culture. I admit, I do wear all of the above, not become I am lazy, but for practical reasons: I still struggle to grow my natural hair; as a single mother and full-time college student, I do not have the luxury of paying to have my hair professionally done, even though I work two jobs; and lastly, I am awake 18-21 hours a day -I simply do not have the time to spend hours a day fixing my hair.

    Does wearing a weave/wig/extensions/fall mean that I am suffering from a form of self loathing, or that I aspire to be European in features? Of course not. I’m a proud Black woman. But I’m also a Black woman who likes to look her best, and I simply do not look good with short hair. I purchase hair that is shoulder length, as opposed to hair that reaches the middle of my back, and I also make sure that it is in a natural color that complements my skin tone (I have a dark complexion, so I wouldn’t DREAM of wearing Auburn, Blonde, or Royal Blue).

    Wearing hair additions is not for everyone, but it is a personal choice, and it is a choice that needs to be respected, whether you agree with it or not. All I ask is that you show some basic manners and not ask that age old question “Is that your hair?” to which I always respond “Yes – I paid for it!!” ;)

  60. Anonymous on 14 Jun 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    I think the “personal choice” issue is something of a cop out. If the choice was just random, then how come there are not people choosing to make their hair seem shorter or nappier? It seems that the choosing and the pressure go in one direction.

    But at the same time, I don’t fault women for wearing weaves, etc. Long hair means “glamour” in this culture and women are judged so much on their looks. Everyone is not cut out to be renegade.

  61. Anonymous on 16 Jun 2008 at 2:08 am #

    Nicely done!

    If you can now attempt to explain dreads, corn rows and Afros on white folks, platinum blond hair on African Americans and Asian Americans and those god-awful French manicures and nail charms on some women, then, ding! ding! ding! you win the Nobel Peace Prize!

  62. sfashionista on 17 Jun 2008 at 10:48 am #

    i think the biggest irony of this post is, as i was reading it, the ad on the right of the “Jam the Negro” section features… (drumroll, please) LACEFRONT WIGS!!!! ugh!

  63. N-quisitive on 17 Jun 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    I don’t think that wearing weave implies that you hate yourself. My hair is not permed nor is it nappy or unmanageable. I am a full time college student, and I work full time. I were weave because of the convenience. I work out after work regularly, and I sweat alot ,especially in my wavy thick hair, so when I get home I need to study, cook something to eat, and get to bed at a decent hour, washing, blow-drying, and pressing hair (natural or permed) takes time. Weave, does not mean self-hatred. I Love my hair and myself and I think it shows.

  64. N-quisitive on 17 Jun 2008 at 5:43 pm #

    excuse me… “I ‘wear’weave because of the convenience.”

  65. thenurse on 18 Jun 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    Jam, I happened upon your blog by accident, but I like it. I think it is funny there are adds for hair weaves to the right of the original blog against them.

    I like to think we are all sisters, but ya’ll may not agree as I am European American, but your comments on hair are not unique. My hair is straight and very fine. I have hated it all my life, except when I see someone with alopecia, who has almost no hair, then I thank God for what I have.

    White women perm their hair if it is straight. Straighten it if it is curly. Dye it when it gets grey, or even if they don’t like it’s color. I personally look at others and try to see what their personality is, because to use a trite phrase: You can’t judge a book by the cover.

    Jam, keep up the good work, my only negative comment about your blog, you could lose the f bombs and it would be smoother reading.


  66. Anonymous on 19 Jun 2008 at 4:41 pm #

    Jam, I just discovered your blog – love it.

    I, too, spent years wishing I could be one of those mythical skinny white women with long blond hair. Thing is, I am a white woman – with big hips and thighs and kinky curly frizzy hair. Growing up in the Brady Bunch era was tough – there was no way I could wear my hair long, straight, and parted in the middle. I used to get perms just to control the curl. I’ve now gone natural – short and curly (and gray). My husband confessed years ago to preferring long straight tresses, but I know he loves me as I am.

    I used to work with a woman who had a different hairstyle every few weeks. She educated me about weaves, extensions, braids, etc. (I just thought her hair grew really fast!) For her, part of it was about variety. But it also was a great social gathering every week, with her sisters, cousins, and friends spending part of the day doing hair and nails, talking, eating, caring for the babies, gossiping, and building strong bonds.

  67. Intiasar F. on 26 Jun 2008 at 6:31 am #

    I haven’t had a relaxer in five years. My cousin braided my hair straight back in 9 cornrows and then sewed two tracks to each row in the end I had the sexiest curly afro ever. As did the rest of my 10 female cousins. I did that for two years; only going to the salon to get my ends trimmed every 6 weeks (which cost me $15 bucks). After the two years, I didn’t want to see another Afro on my head for the rest of infinity. I bought a stove iron from the beauty supply store and began to press my hair but the humidity in GA is like Superman and Kryptonite to unrelaxed hair and as my hair is both kinky and curly wearing it completely natural is never an attractive solution for me; in my opinion and as it’s my damn head that opinion stands. My younger cousin braided my hair in even more cornrows and sewed tracks from top to bottom across the cornrows and then cut the hair in layers that I curled, flat ironed, beveled, dyed, and brushed like no tomorrow, as if it was coming out of my own damn scalp…whatever I wanted! Now my hair is…my hair. Unpurchased, and chemical free and fly as always. It is pressed, and I pay $25 every six weeks to have my ends trimmed and my hair styled. One of my friends suggested I had “good hair”…and while I agree, I think she meant that I have the texture Jada Pinkett has. You should have seen her face when she sat in admiration while I washed my hair; she didn’t get why it took me two hours to wash and press shoulder length hair…when I took that towel off and she saw that half curly,half kinky afro… boy oh boy! I loved it! Will I ever wear a weave again? Damn skippy! What other way would it be possible to cut, curl, dye, and fry like you can with a weave? If I feel like looking like Kimora Lee (who herself will admit that anytime you see her hair past her bra line it’s a weave) then dammit I will…don’t hate on my Fabulosity! Get u some! And if I feel like getting my hair cornrowed in some intricate style and throwing a flower in it, India Arie style, well dammit, it’s my option! And as I consider myself a true feminist, I’m all about having options!
    The way a woman dresses, wears her hair, applies her make-up, it’s all in the wrist. The way a woman feels in her clothes, holds her head, and bats her mascara’d eyelashes is all in her heart! I’m fly in sponge rollers and house shoes baby! And it’s not my hair or my dress that’ll tell you that…it’s my Swag! My family is very big on self-esteem and humility. I address my younger female cousins as Princess So-and-So, and the womenfolk celebrate kinky hair, curly hair, straight hair, weaves, braids, curves, and stick-legs alike!

    Intiasar F. Kyng

  68. MerBear on 03 Jul 2008 at 10:40 pm #

    I’m a white girl and I’ve always wondered why black girls don’t go natural more often. I think it should become trendy pretty soon. I mean, it’s different from ours, but it’s cool to be different. It’s the uniqueness that is cool. I love it when Eryka Badu (sp?) wears her hair natural and big. Totally cool. Weaves just look tacky…

  69. Anonymous on 09 Jul 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    Interesting (and maybe pertinent) historical note: In New Orleans, around the turn of the 19th century, there were sumptuary laws passed to force FREE black women to wear head coverings to prevent the power of their “natural sexuality” overcoming white men and forcing them to act upon these primitive attractions.( The last part of that was typed with heavy sarcasm on my part- the law was completely ridiculous and typically bigoted and footless like most sumptuary laws, it was also a way to prevent “passing” by wearing the same wigs and pieces white women wore to achieve those weirdo hairdos of the time- think a canned ham tin covered in upholstery trim with some dangly down bits, maybe a feather or an egg…). The article I read about this in a costume historian journal is very good… and I can’t find it after searching through my rats nest/office for almost an hour. I am to be trusted… I’m very authoritative (sarcasm again).

    Anyway, the result was the women subjected to this law proceeded to wear the brightest, most sumptuous fabrics they could find (and it was colonial New Orleans…) in the most elaborate sculptures neck tendons would permit.

    I think the key term to be discussed in this historical matter and the one immediately at hand is: appropriation.

    Also: Was there a brave cultural commentator calling the more outrageous of these antebellum wraps “Hot French Quarter Mess”es?

  70. jamdonaldson on 09 Jul 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    If those antebellum wraps were emblazoned with “#1 Dick Sucka” in rhinestones, then probably.

  71. Seattle Slim on 10 Jul 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    Jam I love this post and have fallen head over heels for your blog!

    Anyway, I may be late but I wanted to add. I have worn weaves, braids, relaxers and been natural four times, my fourth time being now. Its been shaved to Zhane like proportions and now is, in its curly untouched state almost down to my shoulders. Matter of fact today it was on my neck and I panicked because it really has grown.

    I don’t think everyone with relaxers and the like hate themselves but I do believe that as a collective we have gone thru so much telling us that we are ugly or unworthy that its hard to break those bonds. That’s why I am staying natural. I have two sons (mixed) and I want them to see a black woman who is comfortable in her own skin and loving her hair. I need for them to see a black woman who is unfazed. The issue is when black women put down natural hair while extolling straight hair. The issue is when low self esteem takes over and says that to be pretty get that weave and the like. I don’t care if black or white men don’t find me attractive with my hair in a glorious afro because its not long or straight. My hair fits my free spirit and rebellious nature so screw my detractors. I would rather keep my hair natural and get (I found him thank god) a man who loves me for me than alter myself for a man.

  72. Lauren on 11 Jul 2008 at 5:10 am #

    I just wanted to say I’m 22 years old and I was saddened one day when I realized that I actually can’t remember what I look like with a full head of natural hair (before my first relaxer which took place when my age was still in the single digits, my hair was still almost always pressed.) I’ve always been fascinated with the wavy curl of my hair once my perms started to grow out. I used to actually pluck a hair or 3 from the root and just stare at the curls in amazement and think: “now imagine if my whole head looked just like this!!” But still, I would chicken out and submit to the creamy demon. But now, I’ve been perm-free since 1/08. Currently I’m on a break from braids and I’m LOVING how my natural hair is growing in. I know for certain I’m not mentally ready to wear a teeny weeny fro. I’ll admit that. I do want natural hair, but I’m finding this is a psychological process/makeover as well. But I can’t WAIT to sport an afro of near Erykah Badu-esque proportions (or hell, even half that size). I WILL start learning how to care and manage my OWN hair without treating it like a problem to be fixed. Love this post and this blog so far btw. will be back. Peace everyone. :-)

  73. Anonymous on 15 Jul 2008 at 4:55 am #

    I wonder why it’s acceptable to some people to alter themselves by peircing their ears instead of relaxing their hair. Or to alter themselves by wearing makeup, or a pushup bra instead of flat ironing their hair. Really, what is the difference? Why is one acceptable and the other is not? There just seems to be this double standard amongst women who claim that they don’t want to alter themselves to please a man.

    It seems like a weak justification for not relaxing their hair and a slam against women who do.

    Why can’t those women who wear their hair natural just admit that they like it better that way, and leave those of us who like our own hair relaxed alone. The truth is, is that those women who claim they don’t want to alter themselves for a man have no problem doing so when it comes to piercing their ears or wearing lipstick.

    I think it’s perfectly possible to wear hair natural and look nice, it just gets annoying when people expect you to accept their hairstyle while they subtly slam yours.

    And just for the record white women don’t just wake up, toss their heads and are ready to walk out of the door. The majority of white women that I know wash their hair every morning, blow dry, and flat iron or use hot curlers before leaving. Those that don’t are called trailer trash. Are they altering themselves to please a man or are they just fixing themselves up so they look nice during the day?

    Why is it any different when I do the same thing? When a white woman colors her hair, is she exhibiting self hate?

  74. Edith on 15 Jul 2008 at 5:43 am #

    Make-up you can remove, push-up bras, you can remove, extra piercings is just self mutilation, not an effort to look better for a man or just being kinky.

    Claiming that you could never wear your hair natural and love when it you have never tried it before is self-hate and wishing God made someone else, in other words, saying that He did not know what He was doing when He made you, in His image by the way.

    We are not talking about white women, we are talking about black women that keep making one excuse after another as to why they condemn something that God has given them.

    All these chemicals that you use to destroy your beautiful natural strong hair, are owned by white people. They put time and money into research to keep you relaxing. It is part of the over $5 billion that is spent by black people annually on consumption of useless goods and services. Imagine if we put that kind of wealth into research that will produce natural ingredients to put on our natural hair. It is not easy going natural, but it is the most gratifying experience that I have ever been through. I can’t even imagine ever going back to relaxers. To me, it is a form of denying who I truly am and shunning God for making me.

  75. Anonymous on 16 Jul 2008 at 5:46 am #

    The point is, is that you can do whatever you want with your hair and it doesn’t make a bit of difference to me. But when you compare hair relaxers to self mutilation you’re insulting my choice of hairstyle. And that’s all it is, a hairstyle, no more no less.

    I think it’s great that you’ve decided to wear your hair natural and feel wonderful about it. That works for you, but it wouldn’t work for me. So why does your standard of beauty get applied to me?

    There are a lot of things that people do to their bodies that I don’t agree with and would never do. A tatoo is one example, tongue piercing is another, but I would never say to anyone who has their tongue pierced that they must subconciously hate themselves because of their tongue ring.

    But,that is what you do to me when you assume I must hate my hair because I relax it. I relax my hair because it’s in style where I’m from. I wear skinny jeans for the same reason, and pluck my eyebrows for the same reason. That’s all it is.

  76. Edith on 16 Jul 2008 at 8:17 am #

    More power to you sistah….LOL!

    Ask yourself this question.

    Why are you so defensive about my opinion and those of other women who are advocating for natural hair.

    Have you ever heard of that quote from the Shakespeare play Hamlet, which was acted by Queen Gertrude, ” the lady doth protest too much me thinks” That means you are protesting too much or being too defensive for something that you supposedly think is nothing but a style or harmless choice (in this context anyway, lol!).

    Have a wonderful day or night….

  77. Anonymous on 17 Jul 2008 at 3:14 am #

    Ok, I promise to look more closely at my feelings on the subject just as long as you promise to do the same! :)

  78. Edith on 17 Jul 2008 at 3:45 pm #


  79. Anonymous on 22 Jul 2008 at 6:41 pm #

    This issue is tearing me up. I used to have long hair. Well, long for a black woman anyway. It fell past my shoulders and I always got compliments on it. I never wore weave because I felt it was beneath me since I already had so much hair. Though I didn’t have a problem with anyone else wearing it, I sort of looked upon those that did with disdain.

    I had been getting relaxers since I was 12 since I didn’t want to deal with all that kinky mess. Length on top of texture is hard to deal with. My hair didn’t grow anymore after that, it pretty much stayed the same length until I cut it a couple of weeks ago. I decided that I wanted to go natural. I don’t know what I was thinking…but I cut ALL OF MY HAIR OFF and now there’s only an inch left. It’s quite a shock, and a little hard to get used to. Now I, who never considered a weave before, am surfing the net in search of the best hair and researching different methods of weave application…it’s crazy. I always knew that I loved my hair, my long hair, but I never knew that it meant so much to me…or anyone else.

  80. Ceridubh on 23 Jul 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    These Eight words the Rede fulfill:

    “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”

    You know, it really does disturb me when I see so many women and men of color obsessing over hair texture/length, and when I see a Black woman’s worth being bantered about like tissue paper because of her decision to straighten/not-straighten or weave/not-to weave her hair. Have any of you thought about the implicit misogyny of a man chastising a woman for adorning/not-adorning herself as she pleases? What does this say about the status of women in our own community when we are chastised in such a manner and when the majority of the commentary comes from women who feel impelled to explain their choices to pacify the chastiser?

    My hair, my body, my being-ness, is mine, and I say what is acceptable or not–regardless of what anyone has to say. Women, take your power back, and stop explaining your decisions about your body to others (men or women!). Be the one who fears no one.

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