Naturalista – “Walking Contradictions?”

It’s no secret that not everyone is a fan of hair weave. The opinions on wearing weave span across a broad spectrum. On one end there are women who jump from one install to the next, never to be caught in public without their weave. On the opposite end are those who give weaves a wide berth, and those women who fall somewhere in the middle. They may choose to wear weaves as a protective style or as a fun way to change up their style, experiment with color, etc.  With all of these different voices and opinions, let’s examine the most common pro and anti- weave arguments.

Probably one of the most popular anti- weave arguments is that women who wear weaves are insecure and unauthentic. You can find hair that comes from a variety of different countries: Brazil, Malaysia, Cambodia, Armenia, and Burma to name a few. Women who wear hair from these countries are often accused of being insecure; ashamed or embarrassed of their real hair. After all, if they were proud of their own hair there would be no need for weave.  Does the sentiment of “fakeness” solely come from wearing hair extensions or does it relate more to the type of hair used? Consider this, even though certain natural hairstyles like box braids and marley twists also require added hair, women who rock these styles are not referred to as fake, but as Afrocentric. This is because these hairstyles align with traditional African hair practices and hair textures.

Others feel weaves are ok as long as they are “realistic”. Weaves are acceptable if they are worn at a reasonable length and mimic black hair textures. The obvious motivation behind this intention is for the weave to be undetectable. This may be where the anti-weave sentiments come into play. Advocates for Black Empowerment and Black Beauty could argue that this is an attempt to fool others (mostly those outside the black community) into believing the hair they wear is really theirs, and by doing so they are suppressing their true self. To speak plainly wearing hair that comes from China is somehow a disservices to our African roots. However, that is only one side of this conversation.

During the last few years the natural hair movement has really taken off. It only takes a quick visit to YouTube and numerous natural hair blogs to hear stories of women, mainly of color taking control of their hair health and embracing their natural textures.  A community of women (and men) offering encouragement and valuable skills in the form of tutorials. It’s truly amazing and inspiring.

However, one viewpoint that has surfaced within the natural hair community is that weaves are the antithesis to the “Naturalista”. A Naturalista typically refers to a Black woman who wears her hair as it naturally grows (i.e. not chemically altered in any way).  Now I don’t want to ascribe one perspective to the entire natural hair community. The natural hair community is made of countless men and women each with their own belief system. One of those beliefs is that weave can serve as a protective style. When properly installed and maintained, weave allows women to put most or all of their hair away and avoid manipulation of the hair which can promote hair growth.

In fact, weaves provide a way for women who value and love their natural hair to protect it.  Women are able to experiment with different styles without damaging their own crown. One can go from long to short, brown to brunette, wavy to straight all without having to alter their natural hair.

All of these voices can really influence how women feel when they wear weaves. Ultimately, everyone’s hair journey is their own. And everyone’s hair choices their own as well.  The deeper issue is not what others think or believe about weave, but how we feel about ourselves when we wear it.

What are your thoughts? Weigh in below.