Saturday, January 5, 2008

What is wrong with the weave?

I think it is actually her hair


At the encouragement of my dear friend Yan I am going the direction other bloggers are running from, Black Hair. ( thanks Yan, only a true friend could send some one on the path to hell).
Salutations aside, What is wrong with the weave ? In my humble opinion, everything. When I see the weave I see denial, lack of self acceptance, confusion and a crisis of identity. And oh yes, I have paid for voicing such scandalous opinions.
Many have come to the defence of the weave and have almost been convincing because their arguments are so eloquently formed. I will reprint some of the arguments presented on C1's blog to show you how far the weave madness can go, thereafter I will state my reasons why these arguments are just an advanced form of a yet to be studied abnormal mental state.

In defence of the weave #1
"To my undertsanding hairstyles or just hairstyles, but we carry the same face day in and day out and when that's being tampered with ( changing noses,lips, etc) YES something is trying to be achieved, but not changing hairstyles. That's stupid."

This argument discards history on how some hairstyles came about. In this history, women were trying to be less "African looking" and beginning to follow the white standard of beauty, way before the media came in. I have even heard some people being described as just having gotten off the boat. So is the present day hair style, just a hair style? Why divorce history from it?

In defence of the Weave #2
"Sometimes I feel maybe it's pro-black women like you who are really jealous of these women from other cultures and their hair, so when you see a black women with spanish wavy in her hair it strickes a nerve, is that what it is?? "

This was a clever and courageous attempt to turn the argument against those of us that hate the whole idea behind the weave. People of my persuasion recognize the beauty of the other races of women and are able to distinguish it from our own. Theirs is theirs not ours. Very simple. What the weave does whether we want to admit it or not is take a part of those women to 'enhance' the black woman. How self degrading is that? And if you are especially dark skinned and more "African looking" your appearance is quite dodgy and screams of self delusion not a confident black woman.
I don't intend to go into the details of the weave industry but as you all know, the black hair industry runs in the billions. That is, the blacks are spending the money and someone else is receiving it. Something is not right with that whole picture. Shouldn't black people be as concerned about the waste of such resources as they are of the oppressive system under which we live?

In defence of the Weave #3
"Afro-American/Caribbean women wear weaves as an accessory to play up their hair. It's no longer about conformity fueled by self-hate, from what I understand".
This is the unsure defence. So when did that transition happen, from wearing a weave as a result of self hate to wearing a weave simply as an accessory?
And after all these years people are still lamenting the effects of slavery but the hair issue was magically resolved. Maybe the weave wearers are onto something, they may teach the black community on how to get over the past and move on.

In defence of the weave #4

And here my friends we get to see the Johnnie Cochran effect on the pro weave side.
"And it seems that there are so many different definitions of what "natural" means. Some black people scream for other black folks to be "natural," but they're not natural themselves--and a long way from natural at that.
I have a very broad, less simplistic view of what "natural" means compared to many other folks. "Natural" is not an absolute concept to me. There are extenuating circumstances in most situations. I mean, how far do we want to go with this?"

Ah, the magical wonders of philosophy. So no doubt the weave is going no where. Meaning simply that long straight hair is a beauty ideal that will continually be pursued by black women. How sad! I would not have too much of a problem with it if the same women defending the weave did not complain about the European standard of beauty and hound the corporations for upholding it while themselves are slowly evolving themselves into it. The hypocrisy!

My hair history goes way back to Africa. And yes I believe every little African girl that gets bombarded by the Western image wishes to have long straight hair. The images of white women flicking their hair has a universally appreciated appeal. I don't know why, may be its just the nature of things that at first sight or encounter, the white woman is easy on the eyes. And yes, even for young African girls they sense the different kind of femininity and through out their youth some (especially in urban areas) will adjust themselves to that image.
Because it is in contrast with traditional cultures the older generations will beat this aspiration out of them by reminding them that they are African and will never be white. Thus it doesn't take a young woman very long to accept what God gave them. I attribute this final acceptance to the fact that one can not continue to aspire to be something else in a cultural setting that disregards foreign values.
It also helps that whiteness is demystified by travelled Africans that come and reinforce the importance of traditional values over western values.
Before travelling to the west the average African too suffers from the "all white is right" mentality. On arrival in a western country that perception is almost immediately reversed due to the exposure to vices like racism among other things. Cultural pride instantly kicks in and thus the rejection of many things western that are in conflict with one's culture. ( Note, this applies to Africans with brains).

So going back to the weave, the genesis of the weave definitely has to do with aspiring to the euro standard of beauty and as some are trying to convince us (unsuccessfully), this is supposedly no longer the case today.
In my opinion I would imagine that many BW with in their life time would eventually get over the western image of beauty and embrace their natural selves. And the first thing one gets rid of should be the WEAVE! (This may be a naive expectation considering the dominant images out there). The only people excusable for wearing the weave are the models who are basically just canvas for the fashion industry. At least they are making money wearing the ridiculous things.
My conclusion on this whole 'to weave or not to weave' debate is that as black women we are all affected by euro femininity regardless of origins. Should we be looking to it to define our own woman hood? I say not.
And finally, isn't it possible too that weaves help reinforce white supremacy the same way in which black men dating white women does?