Everyone has differing opinions when it comes to hair. Some think it’s a genuine indication of a woman’s beauty, while others think it’s just a good accesory. Live’s Lethabo Afrika Bogatsu and Rofhiwa Maneta give their opinions on hair.
Rihanna, who is arguably the most influential celebrity when it comes to hair, has a hairstyle named after her- “iRihanna razor cut”. I’m sure you’ve come across the hundreds of pictures of her plastered on inspiration boards around downtown Johannesburg. You can go to your nearest hair salon and pick out one of the numerous hairstyles Rihanna has rocked, unfortunately it might not look as good. Rihanna spends over $1 million a year on just her hair. Now, while I wish I had the money to change up my hair as often as Rihanna, I simply don’t.
And even if I had the money I don’t think I would willingly spend an exorbitant amount of money on a weave. Call me cheap, I prefer the word frugal. I simply don’t understand how girls (or their ministers of finance) are okay with spending a good chunk of their allowances on someone else’s hair. Like honey, it ain’t your hair!- The track and the fact that I can’t see your scalp is proof enough of that. Yes, I get you bought it and in a way that makes it yours. But the fact of the matter remains, it did not grow from your own scalp. To pretend that your hair is naturally 22 inches long and strawberry blonde in colour, is ludicrous.
It’s probably some poor Indian girl’s hair, which she dutifully sacrificed to her God’s (the process is referred to as Tonsure). I’m just not okay with having someone else’s hair on my head. It’s not just with weaves but dreadlocks too. I prefer synthetic hair piece if any extensions at all.
Comedian Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary “Good Hair” is a good example of how complex black hair really is. (I suggest all white people watch it just to gain a little more insight on the complexities black women go through. I think they’ll sympathise a little more.)
I’ve had my hair short for quite a while. The first time I cut it, I felt liberated. Like I was giving the finger to all those long hours spent sitting on my numb behind, in stuffy salons, trying to explain to some lady what exactly I want on my head. I’m not the only one who likes my hair short. The gents seem to like it too! A boy friend (note the space between the two words) once said I look prettier with my hair short “It’s refreshing to see a girl rocking her natural hair proudly,” he said. I’m not saying that this male opinion means all that much, but I’m not going to deny that it does kinda feel good to be complimented by the opposite sex. It’s like, I too am pretty, I don’t need a weave to validate my beauty. Don’t mean for my hair to be some kind of revolutionary statement of black beauty, no not all. I am not throwing shade on the beweavers (weave believers). Or even the ladies that like frying- I mean straightening their hair with relaxers. I’ve tried all of these different hairstyling methods and I will probably try a few more, so I am not one to judge. To each his own.
But often I feel that girls hide behind the tracks of their weaves and hair extensions and try too hard to adhere to the unrealistic ideas of western beauty we see in RnB music video and Hollywood movies.
I just want every woman to feel confident and beautiful in their own skin and hair, be it long and silky or short and kinky, without the fear of being judged or ridiculed.
A Male perspective
You’ve probably heard the debate before: weaves are supposedly for “fake chicks” and natural/nappy hair is for “real African women”. I’m always apprehensive about commenting on issues that distinctly affect women. I’ve always maintained that, while men can empathize with women on issues that affect them, my biology (i.e the fact that I have a penis) doesn’t allow me to fully understand the weight of those issues. But because the topic keeps coming up, I’ve decided to throw in my two cents about the topic.
Ours is a world that dictates to women how they should act, look and think. We constantly strip women of their agency and tell them how to make their decisions. “Whores” dress and act a certain way. “Ladies” act and speak in a certain way and “real African women” wear their hair in a certain way. At the core of these statements is a refusal to acknowledge women’s agency and let them do whatever the f*ck they like. Who gets to decide how a “real African woman” wears her hair? Men? How any woman wears her hair is nobody’s business but hers. Society needs to stop policing women’s actions and let them be. You want to wear a weave? Great! You want to leave your hair the way it grows out of your head? Good for you! The point is; it’s your decision. Hair should never be considered an African signifier or an indication of a woman’s intelligence or character. It’s 2014 people, let’s put the weave debate to rest.
So: long or short, braided or curled, weave or nappy headed – all hair is beautiful. Let’s get with the times – we shouldn’t be telling women (or rather, people in general) what to do with their bodies. Besides, it’s just a piece of hair; it’s hair today and gone tomorrow.