THE WEAVE WONDER

andreas

I have never understood the relationship between men and weaves. Nearly all men want the ladies to keep it natural. The amusing thing is that these men won’t recognize a head with a weave if it hit them. In time, the hairdressers have learnt how to fix them without the bumps. Of course there are the extremes. These weaves should only be reserved for hair shows. A weave can be so big enough it forms another head on top of the real head.

I think these types of hairs are what convinced one radio host that we ladies can’t be trusted. He said that he couldn’t marry a lady until he knew the shape of her head. His claim was that some females (they call us that these days) wear weaves back to back and you can date one for a whole year without ever seeing her natural hair.

I have fixed a weave. I have fixed a bulky curly mess of a weave. I will still blame Tyra for this hair inspiration. I watched lots of The Tyra Banks Show in my younger years. I had gotten a two-week job during a college break as a front office lady. I wanted to impress.

I love shopping for hair stuff. Some girls find it therapeutic to shop for clothes and shoes. I find it stressful, especially shopping for shoes. I grew into my big feet but the world has yet to make my size. Nothing fits. So I love hair shopping. It took me one hour or more to pick my best weave choice. I had a fantastic time.

I had been advised by a friend on the beauty salon to go. This was my first time fixing a weave. Being so ignorant about this kind of thing I chose to consult those experienced in the field. And experienced she was. Beryl, that’s her name, was one of those ladies you would never see without a hair extension. She is very beautiful; tall, dark and slim. She also had a wicked sense of humour. Apart from my sisters, she is the only lady who got my jokes (read sarcasm).

I find it very intimidating going to a salon, especially a new one. You would think you have the power since you are the one with the money. Oh no, it doesn’t work like that in the salons. These ladies, they have the power. You come with some airs; you may leave the salon with what looks like a bird’s nest on your head.

Not only was this hairdresser talking in a tongue foreign to my ears to her colleagues, she was also pulling my hair like crazy. I did not want to be impolite and interrupt. I figured that this could be my first lesson on torture. When they were done, I congratulated myself on not breaking. However I didn’t like what I saw looking back at me on the mirror. I looked wild. It was like I had gone through a tornado and my hair was telling the story. The hair covered half of my face. They told me that I looked nice. It was late and I knew some of them were sitting impatiently waiting for me to get done and go. Don’t trust the ladies.

I managed to reach at the hostel safely even with the hair impairing my sight. Beryl was polite about my look. It was her hairdresser after all. Also, she is more human than I am. I am honest to a fault. This is a nice way of saying that I am blunt and downright tactless.

Once she came from the salon with the weirdest style ever. There is a weave that usually has a strip standing tall at the top of the head. This could be the one she used. It was a short weave. It appeared like an inverted hat that opened out at the front.

I saw her and burst out laughing. She smiled awkwardly at me. I tried to be polite and muffed my laughs with a pillow. “Is it that bad?”

“It is okay I guess,” I replied. I was grinning. It was all I could do not to laugh.

“I thought so.” She understood what okay actually meant. “The ladies gushed at how pretty I looked.”

“Never trust the ladies!”

She picked a mirror.

“If there is anyone who can pull it off, it’s you,” I encouraged her. She got rid of it the following day.

We love weaves because they let our hair rest. Don’t wear them all the time though. Your hair might want to rest but remember it also needs to breathe. Also, don’t let the hairdresser pull your hair. The edges are the most delicate and weak part of your hair. Constant pulling will lead to balding. Do you want that? Lastly, let your significant other see the shape of your head.

A GIRL’S QUEST FOR LONG HAIR: PART III

lupita

I kept the hair. With the coastal climate, it was usually limp. It started getting a tint and I would cut it often to keep it looking full. A thought of shaving it never occurred to me (that is, while I was still in college. It occurred a few years later as you will soon find out). How could I survive looking like a boy? I’d rather keep the limp hair than have no hair.

With time, nothing seemed to salvage my hair. The time and the relaxers had started taking toll on it. It was damaged and weak because of the over processing. I had used relaxers since I was thirteen years. What was the point of it all? I had long hair, so what? I decided to cut it. This was much later, after my college days. It was in the stage of ‘finding myself’.

I didn’t do it in the Stone Cold style I had donned in my earlier years with the assistance of the master barber. I cut it short in the Lupita style. It was a bold step but then again I was finding myself.

It is always scary to cut hair after having it for more than ten years. You can’t remember the shape of your head. What if my head looked like an avocado seed? I remembered a girl in high school who told me that my hair looked funny when I held it because I had a bump at the middle of my head. I never saw the bump but what if others could see it? I tried to picture my childhood birthday photos. I knew I had a big head but I consoled myself that I had grown into it just as I had grown into my hands and feet.

I now have short natural hair. Technically not so short but with natural hair, you can never tell. I put down blow-driers and relaxers. I decided to start afresh. It is so funny, I have embraced the things that I was in such a hurry to leave.  The Alleluia comb, the coconut oil; the simple things my mum had tried to teach me.

I believe all hairs are beautiful. I believe that natural hair is the most beautiful. I have dropped the chase for the long straight hair. I have embraced the curly, coily and kinky that my natural hair is. Natural hair has helped me learn a lot. People ask me, “How can you keep your hair like that? I would look horrendous!” I tell them that confidence is the key. If you believe in your beauty, everyone around will believe in it too.

 

A GIRL’S QUEST FOR LONG HAIR: PART I

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It is probably the hair goal of many ladies: to have long beautiful hair. If there is a product that sells faster than the proverbial hotcakes, it is a hair product that promises extreme hair growth. Usually the advert has a picture of a model with before and after the product use and how rapidly the hair grew. One that amused me had the before lady within quite short hair and after three months the hair was shoulder length. Is it also a magic potion?

My quest for long hair started pretty early. If you are as old as I am, you probably went to a local primary school that required all pupils (no matter the gender) to have their hair shaved. My dad took the role of the family hair barber very seriously. When our hair had reached some length, we would all line up for a shave.

Once I tried doing the shaving myself. It didn’t come out as well as how the master barber did it. It was like strips and spots that ended at the centre of the head. I doubt my dad thought of me as an aspiring apprentice since he punished me by shaving my hair bald. I looked like the then famous WWE fighter, Stone Cold. I think I also acquired the name when I reported to school the following week. Kids can be mean.

The December holidays were long fully awaited for. This was not just because of the chapatti feasting during the Christmas celebrations, but also this was the time all little girls were plaited with long braids and colourful beads. I could hardly wait. My otherwise strict mum had agreed to have our hair braided. This was a Chrismas miracle by itself.

What a wonderful day when we at last were taken to the salon. I sat patiently at the chair as the hair stylist touched my hair and frowned slightly. I was prepared to tell her what I wanted. She would fix the braids and make sure they were long enough so I could look as beautiful as those photos from the newspaper cuttings that she had glued up on the salon’s wall.

“Your hair is too short,” she said matter-of-factly; the way hairdressers talk when they want to get rid of you.  She was half saying it to me, half telling the house help who had brought us. She left the work of consoling to the poor lady. I didn’t cry. But my little heart felt a pain. They were crushing my year long dream. Of course when my dad did a Stone Cold remake on my head, the hair took a longer time to grow. Now December would soon come to an end. My hair would be shaved and I’d have to wait until the following December holidays. I looked on as my two sisters’ hair got braided.

That evening, I went outside, far away from everyone (near the cow’s pen) and prayed, “God give me long hair.” I think I was embarrassed at my prayer. It was unreasonable, I felt. At the start of the year I would be probably bald again. I remember asking our house help if God answers prayers. That was pretty deep for a kid, right?

“If you believe He will, “she told me. We usually had pretty amazing house girls then. I don’t know about now. Uhm, it was not a comparison at all.

God answers prayers. At nine years, I went to a boarding school that allowed girls to grow hair. Alleluia! So with the help of other girls, I started growing my hair. We used to plait each other what we usually called ‘matuta lines’. For those unschooled, it is making a braid and joining it to make another braid and on and on to make a line. You had to learn fast so that you could also return the favour. During the visiting days, I had one of the older girls comb it and my mum marveled at how beautiful it was.

Girls. Is anything good enough, long enough or rich enough? Don’t read too much into that. I promise, I meant no pun. My school friend told me that there were ways to make my hair longer, straighter and generally more beautiful. Being a very weak kid to peer pressure, I was on board. I didn’t know what the exercise involved but I knew one thing, I wanted long straight hair. It was nearing the end of the term and I wanted to go home looking beautiful, hopefully get more compliments from my mother.

I don’t know how the girls acquired it but it was a tin with holes. Sharp were the holes that if you touched the surface, you could risk getting pricked. This was a practice in the villages, I knew, but I had never seen it happen before. They put red hot charcoal or firewood in the tin. I really don’t know how they got that too but they were set to work.

I was the guinea pig. Having been a very naïve kid, this is one of the prices I have had to pay. I think the tin was too hot or the holes, too big. You should have seen the top of my head, which technically was the only part styled. My hair got burnt and it was sort of grey. I could hear the giggles from my ‘stylists’.

My mum was dismayed. Why couldn’t I wait to come home and go the salon? What had I done to my beautiful hair? My dad was half amused and chuckled, “You decided to fry the hair?” He made what he still thinks is a joke. When someone goes to the salon, he asks them if they are going to fry their hair.

To reduce this kind of activity, my mum decided to take me for hair blow-dry at the beginning of every term. This seemed like a good temporary solution. I think it was, since my hair grew and thrived. My friends also didn’t have other tricks in their pockets or I had learnt a lesson that they weren’t to be trusted.