When I was 14, I decided I would never wear a “weave-on” like older women did because while I was fine with braids, I drew the line at pretending loose curls and bangs were part of my natural endowment. Unfortunately for me, laziness (it turns out that taking care of your own hair requires work), impatience (6 hours to sit down for braids ke?), and the cost of braiding got to me, and I found myself attaching my first track of Yaki Hair #1B at age 18. I won’t lie; vanity had a lot to do with it. I wanted hair that I could flip, tease, twist into curls – hair that submitted, dammit.
Fast forward six years and I am now totally comfortable in my skin. In the summer, I’m happy to let my hair come out and breathe. In the winter, my co-workers are treated to a variety of fake tresses with varying lengths and textures. As the only black female in my office, my hair is a guaranteed conversation starter (better than the weather, yes?) Since I’m not a good liar and I can’t be bothered to hide anything anyway, those who care to ask become well acquainted with the mechanism underlying this god-send that is the weave. (*Inserts one such conversation with male Regional Manager*: “…Ijeoma you’re wearing your hair really long! What did you do? … so you just sew it on? Really! ”)
If I’m indirectly spoiling runs for anyone with a weave who still sticks with the “Yes I cut my hair.. yes it grows back fairly quickly” routine, I apologize.
Last month three of my favourite girlfriends and I had a little reunion in Brazil. I planned to catch up with my secondary school bestos, experience the culture, find some fling possibilities… and buy Brazilian hair. Now my reservations about human hair extend only to the price and because of this I have used human hair only once. I refuse to spend my hard-earned money on hair I KNOW I will treat no better than the kind I get for half the price. However, I decided I would take the opportunity in Brazil to shop for some tresses. After all, the hair would be produced wholesale and cheaper there wouldn’t it? (I still don’t know the answer to that question; someone please help a girl out here).
I got into Rio and promptly forgot about my quest until a few days before I was to leave. We walked into a salon that happened to have only black clients. Naturally I assumed it would be a breeze. With the help of one of my friends who spoke Portuguese we asked about Brazilian hair. The owner didn’t have the weaves – in fact she didn’t appear familiar with the concept of weaves at all, which was my first shocker – but she was happy to show us the extensions she had. These ones were used for braiding…
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the saints!
I’d asked for human hair; she had it – hair so authentic I could swear they had not yet added those nice chemicals that make you forget about the possible origin of the goods on your head. It may very well have been treated hair, but I was so traumatized to see what looked to me like freshly chopped hair that I doubt that I’ll ever be convinced otherwise. We thanked her for showing us, smiled, and left. My friend said “Ij, we can check somewhere else later” and I agreed, but we didn’t end up looking for anything after, and in all honesty, I had lost the desire to do so.
Suffice it to say that it will be a while before I look at Brazilian or Peruvian hair the same way again. I’ve decided to stick with my Almost Human hair which is not only cheaper, but if you’re really fanciful, the name could imply that whoever processed it almost got it from a human but didn’t. And that in my opinion is a good thing.
My understanding is that this consolation prize I have settled for is synthetic hair created so wonderfully that it has all the properties of human hair. It helps me sleep better at night. But like they say, time heals all wounds, and for now if time is all I need to enable me venture back into the world of Virgin Remy Human Hair, then wait I shall.