Soooo….. again, I know some of you are probably thinking that I must be making some of this stuff up, but I promise you I’m not! This is where we are right now, in 2015. In Detroit, there is a store that now has made it possible for you to get a loan for a weave… Yep. And guess what the store is called?? The Weave Loan Store!! Smdh. I really, truly wish I was making this sh*t up!
Now, on one hand, you can look at it as, hey, if you choose to get a weave and can’t afford it, why not get a loan to finance your hair? After all, appearance is important to all of us, and who has the right to dictate what someone can do with their money? And of course it’s a proven fact that Black women have single handedly contributed to this economy by turning Black hair care into a damn near $9 billion a year industry.
Now before we get ready to stand up on our soap box and start talking about how insane it is that Black women spend so much money on hair, let me throw in another issue for you to ponder: No other group of women is required by default to use chemicals to tame their hair or to pay money for expensive weaves, (exploitatively culled from the hair of South Asian women, might I add). Let me also add that I am in no way suggesting that only Black women wear weaves or hair extensions. If you don’t already know, White women were the first to wear hair extensions, and of course at first that was a well kept secret, but at this point, it’s well known and I don’t feel the need to elaborate on this because it’s not relevant to the topic at hand. And if we’re being real, (which I hope we all are) then we all know the store in Detroit is not marketing for or targeting White women. And that’s real.
For the sake of this discussion, I’m focusing on the obsession that many Black women have with wearing weaves, and I think that for those of us who have “liberated” our hair, so to speak, we understand where the obsession comes from. Black hair became controversial as soon as our ancestors were brought to this country, and from that point on we can’t escape the images of the “European standard of beauty” — an image that was exactly the opposite of what was deemed beautiful in Africa. But now, sad to say, even in some countries in Africa it seems easier to find women with weaves and perms than natural hair. Damn shame, but what can one expect when our hair in it’s natural state is recognized as bad, tough, unmanageable, unattractive??
For me there is something fundamentally problematic about deeming Black women’s hair in its natural state to be unkempt, and the sad fact is many of us have been conditioned to not only believe that but we continue to invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars to obtain straight hair, perms, weaves and ever-more ubiquitous lace-front wigs. To me it’s just more evidence of a kind of pathological investment in European standards of beauty that will always elude us…
The thing is, I get the need and desire to have the “perfect hair”. And I get how crucial it is for some women who choose to get a weave that they get the right hair, and the right person to install it.. Apparently the installation is so intricate and difficult that it warrants beauticians charging hundreds of dollars, and let’s not even talk about the price for “Human Hair”…. That’s a whole other talk show.
The issue here is we have an industry that has made billions of dollars off of Black women and I don’t see where any of the revenue goes into Black communities. And why are we advocating for Black women to go into debt over paying for a weave?? How is this helping to enrich our communities? How is this helping to educate Black women on financial stability and money management? How is this helpful to anyone except the store who is providing the loan?? Is there a 0 % interest rate?
As far as I’m concerned, as a grown woman, you can do whatever you choose to do with your money. And I’m not judging anyone who chooses to wear weaves, that’s not the problem for me. The problem is that we are taught to believe that to feel beautiful and appear attractive and presentable to others, we need to hide the true nature of our hair. And while for some it is truly about manageability and versatility, there is a deeper notion of wanting to be accepted and needing to conform to the standards of beauty set by society. It’s time that as Black women we set our own image of beauty and conform to that.