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October 2020

Post #13: The politics of black hair…a bag of wigs

When I was 17, I first lost my hair. A new medication did not agree with my system. I had terrible side effects including severe mood swings and the loss of my hair. Thankfully, I was able to switch to another medication that has not given me any adverse effects in the past 12 years.

To mask my hair issue, I began wearing half wigs at 17. A half wig is a hair unit that is made to be blended with your natural hair. This blending helps to camouflage the unnatural hair line of the half wig. When I first started wearing half wigs, I would neglect my own hair. I would do almost nothing to maintain it. I would cover the front with massive amounts of gel so that it could blend into the half wig. Not a good idea. My hair went through this for years. The result was a damaged and tangled mess.

Fast forward to a few years post-college, I began wearing more full wigs. I would moisturize my hair underneath and put them in either flat twists or two strand twists. Then I would apply the wig cap and the full wig. Unfortunately, the combs found in some of these wigs and the hairpins I used created some friction with my actual hair. I would see thinning along my hairline and where the combs had made contact. It seemed like everyone else was able to grow long and thick natural hair by wearing wigs as a protective style.

Regardless of the damage, I continued to wear the wigs. I felt more attractive and professional while wearing the wigs. I would alternate between curly ones, straight ones and wavy ones. If I had a job interview, I would always wear a wig. I never thought that my natural hair was appropriate enough to wear in a professional environment. It was low density and pretty thin. No one wants to have hair like that.

In recent years, I have started embracing my natural hair more often. My hair reminds me of my mom and grandmother’s hair. I care for it by washing and conditioning it on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. I even started locs at the beginning of 2020 (I removed them after about three months due to not being able to get them redone during the COVID-19 salon closures). However, even with this appreciation, I think I will always keep a bag of wigs. I like being able to switch up the look of my hair on a frequent basis. I just want to make sure that I don’t start back using them as a crutch…a crutch all of the time

Hair, especially black hair, has always been inherently political. What is your hair experience?

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