Monday, November 21, 2011

Kinky or Straight?


My mother had a thing about hair. Every Sunday, Dax and a sizzling hot comb attacked my unruly tresses. I still recall the stench of burning hair and cringe at the site of a hot comb.

Needless to say, my mother didn’t believe in the natural look; yet, after it was straightened, my mother would proceed to cornrow my hair.  I had straight cornrows, zigzag cornrows, and even half moon shaped cornrows. You’d think that given the natural hairstyle choice, my mother would opt to leave my hair in its natural state, but no. In my mother’s opinion, my natural hair was unruly and unattractive.  She bought into the notion along with thousands of other women of color: kinky is ugly and straight is great!

This fallacy includes the idea that straight flowing locks are sexier and more alluring than natural kinky tresses. I’m not suggesting a preference here. Currently, I rock a natural fade, which I believe both suits and saves me a lot of money on a monthly basis. 

Just as it is my preference to wear my hair naturally, I would never question one’s desire to chemically straighten his or her hair or add tracks. I have rocked my fair share of relaxed styles and have also worn my fair share of weaves. I will, however, readily admit that chemically treating one’s mane isn’t healthy and does cause damage and wearing weaves also often causes damage.  Chemical straightening breaks the hairs’ natural bond, allowing it to relax and uncoil to the degree that it becomes straight.  Gluing and sewing in one’s tracks, like wise, causes damage in the form of premature bolding and thinning of one’s hair.  Given the risks and maintenance that both weaves and relaxed styles require, I just prefer to remain natural. Also, a weave can cost dang near as much as half of one’s rent. I would spend about $100 on human hair and $200 on a weave, and I would also have to get my hair relaxed, which upped the cost of service. I spent anywhere from $350 to $400 on a weave, which is considered reasonable for a good one. I actually know of some places that charge $500 and up for weaving services. Mind you, a good weave will last about two months before needing to be redone.

If you have the disposable income that would permit you to afford the regular maintenance, and aren’t afraid of the potential risks, then by all means get your hair done in any manner that tickles your fancy.  What I cannot condone are those females who will forego their rent (My barber and I spoke of a customer or two who actually use their rent money) to pay for their hair. I’m appalled by the measures that some women will take to live up to some predetermined notion of beauty. But hey, when they’re out on the street without the comforts of warmth and security, at least their hair will be tight!

Additionally, some of the things that we females do to achieve our desired looks are oxymoronic. Case in point, while waiting for my barber at Khamit Kinks, I met a young attractive African American woman.  As we were both sitting in the waiting area, I couldn’t help but overhear her phone conversation,  “Yeah, I Just got here. It’s not that far in Brooklyn. No, I’m not getting my hair done. I am waiting to get a consultation.”  She was anxious and assumed that the stylist who walked toward the leather sofa upon which we sat was the person with whom she would speak.  When the stylist smiled and proceeded to retrieve a cup of water from the cooler to the right of the sofa, her anxiety grew. I could feel her staring at me before she finally asked, “Are you a regular here?”

I turned to face her, smiling and explained that I was and that I was very satisfied with the service. She mentioned the name of the individual she was scheduled to have her consultation with and asked me if I knew who the person was. Unfortunately, I did not. I proceeded to ask what she wanted to get done.  Apparently, she had just taken out her weave and had straightened the front of her hair, lifting her knitted cap to expose slightly straightened and twisted tresses as evidence. She wanted to get another weave, a natural weave using natural kinky hair styled into chubby twists. Furthermore, the weave had to be on point and as close to natural as possible so as to pass for her real hair. I assured her that I’ve seen stylists at the shop doing weaves, braids and an array of ethnic styles and that I thought they would be able to achieve the look that she wanted and added that she should ask to see photos of the style. We chatted a bit more about the quality of the shop (topnotch) and then the stylist she was waiting for approached and whisked her away.

My initial thought after hearing what the young lady wanted was, what the hell? She wants a “believable” weave with Afro kinky hair styled in chubby twists? It seemed silly to me, considering she wanted to get a weave in a very Afro centric style, a look that her natural hair was capable of achieving. One could take this to mean that her natural kinky hair wasn’t good enough to achieve a style that’s typically associated with her culture.  The whole thing was very oxymoronic in nature.  Her natural hair was perfectly kinky and long enough to pull off the style but she opted to add tracks to really make the look work, and the tracks needed to be as close as possible to her own hair texture.

At least she believes that her hair texture is beautiful! It’s a shame, though, that it needs a little enhancement before it can be perfect.

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