Women who wear wigs and weaves: Self-loathing, convenience or trend?

In Summary

• Your hair is clearly the one thing you wear everyday which in turn boosts your confidence everyday.

• From way back, women have been advised to embrace their hair and accept themselves for who they are, but with time things gradually changed.

Why wigs and weaves are a saviour to most women
Why wigs and weaves are a saviour to most women
Image: FILE

Growing up, we were constantly reminded that 'Your hair is your crowning glory' and we had to believe it. But why?

If I may use a simpler way to explain this, your hair is clearly the one thing you wear everyday which in turn boosts your confidence.

Once you have a good hair day, you feel like literally lifting planet earth like wonder woman.

From way back, women have been advised to embrace their hair and accept themselves for who they are, but with time things have gradually changed.

Women have relaxed their hair, put a perm and all other methods just to feel good about themselves.

Then came weaves and wigs. Now this is where everything just changed and the reception has been both negative and positive.

I once knew a lady who was really not into weaves. She said that African women were trying to emulate white women, who have long silky hair.

"I can't stand weaves or wigs because they do not represent us as African women. What happened to embracing our natural mane? What happened to accepting ourselves just as we are? So many women have had an issue with my opinion but I'll not stop speaking my mind," Wangeci said.

She added that it's quite unfortunate that women have even gone to the extent of relaxing their hair justto have soft and silky hair just like white women.

"Here's the thing. Relaxing your hair means that you want your hair way more straight than it already is, meaning you are not confident with your natural curls. That should not be the case. Embrace who you are," Wangeci added.

In this era, wigs and weaves have been embraced in more ways than one. 

Women have turned to them maybe because of a situation or just because they want to.

Sophie*, a 29-year-old lady, said that she turned to wigs because she found herself in a situation she couldn't get out off.

"When I was young, I was playing in the kitchen despite my mother telling me to stop it. But as a kid, you just want to have fun and so I continued playing around her as she cooked. It was a tendency I had; I never wanted to be away from my mother. Then one day everything changed."

"As I was running around, as usual, I didn't see my mother turn with a hot pot of stew. All I remember was tripping my mother and the stew poured on my face."

"I sustained second degree burns and lost my hair. The only part that was not entirely affected was the back of my head."

Sophie had to accept that her lifestyle was bound to change after the accident.

"After healing, I didn't have any confidence to walk outside of the house with a bare head and some loose hair at the back of my head. No one wants to be seen in that image so I opted to try wigs because I was also tired of wearing hats everyday when I had to leave the house."

"Wigs worked for me since no one could see how bad my head was burnt in as much as the wounds had healed. As much as wigs have been criticised, most people wouldn't understand why some people would opt for that option," Sophie said.

That is just one scenario of why women wear wigs and weaves.

Shazi* has always been a lady who follows trends and she has always wanted to follow what other people do. But is it out of self esteem?

"People have a lot to say about how women should present themselves in the society and we as women have forgotten who we really are.

"I fell in love with wigs a while ago and they boosted my confidence because I felt like by wearing the wig, society would accept me."

"If you ask me, at some point, I don't care what people say about women who wear wigs because it's a choice. No one forced anyone to look at someone who is wearing a wig. If you are uncomfortable with it, keep your opinion to yourself," Shazi expressed herself.

But there are women or rather ladies who do it based on the insecurities they have.

Peninah*, a 45-year-old-woman, said that her grey hair really brings out the insecurities in her.

"I'm 45-years-old and I have grey hair. Who wants to even look at a woman with grey hair at her 40s?

"My husband once asked me to dye my hair because he was so insecure about walking around with his grey haired wife. It really bugged me, I won't lie, but I remembered that I have full control of myself. So I decided to wear wigs instead of dyeing my hair just as my husband had suggested.

"I felt confident while wearing my different wigs and for once I dodn't care what my husband had to say about my appearance. Furthermore, I've never questioned how he shaves his head," Peninah said.

When it comes to thinning of hair, Sheila* said that she has struggled with that for years and she decided that weaves were her saving grace.

"I have braided my hair for as long as I remember and it's not because I want to do it but it's because my hair has thinned over the years. I decided to turn to weaves since I do not have to show my real hair to the public. This has worked for me and I intend on doing it over and over again. It's a choice, not what people tell me," she said.

Speaking to a hair Guru, Jackie* expounded on why women turn to wigs or weaves.

She revealed that she receives clients of all types but when catering for them, she has to be extra careful with the advice she gives.

"I have worked in the hair industry for 12 years and I have received customers with different concerns. Some want to cover patches that are missing from their head, others want hair for a ceremony while others just want to do it for fun."

"Once a customer comes to me with their specs, I listen carefully so that I can understand what exactly they are looking for. Trust me, you don't want an angry customer at your doorstep. It's quite embarrassing," she explained.

Jackie added that at times she has a really hard time trying to satisfy a customer but you can't force someone to buy something they do not like.

"I have had my ups and downs with clients but that comes with the business. You can't satisfy everyone in as much as you want to. So what I do, I give suggestions and even recommendations to other people because at the end of the day, you want a win-win situation."

So why exactly are wigs and weaves really important to women? 

Well, it boosts one's confidence, helps with insecurities that one might have and also it can be about beauty and just experimenting.

We all have our own individual lives to live, and as they always say, to each their own.