Friday, 26 March 2010

Good Hair?

Poor Alexandra Burke is suffering from a case of the Naomi's; that is to say, repeated use of weaves has caused her hair to break off at the root and recede à la Naomi Campbell's. Even Emma Bunton's side parting doesn't go back that far; it's virtually on  her shoulder. 

My friends will tell you that I'm weirdly interested in the styling and management of black hair; it's a huge, flourishing industry and one I used to know nothing about. 

Have you noticed that as soon as a black girl goes through to X Factor they almost always give her a weave? Weaves are basically extensions that are sewn into the root of a person's hair after it's plaited or put into corn rows. Alexandra had relaxed hair when she auditioned, but once through, on went the weave. Now she wears a mixture of weaves, wigs and extensions. 
It seems the vast majority of high-profile black actresses, models and singers wear either a weave or a wig the majority of the time. Beyonce often wears lace-front wigs: sometimes you can see the fine mesh at her hairline where the wig sits. (I told you before: I'm a pro wig spotter.)
Thankfully there are exceptions; black women who rock their natural hair with pride. I'm learning more and more about this topic from my friends at Natural... Take Two and Socialite Dream's Weblog; both of whom have recently transitioned to natural hair. The latter has blogged about the preconceptions other black people have regarding a woman with natural hair. 

I am in no way an expert on this topic, but to see a whole race of women reject their natural hair is both fascinating and horrifying to me. 'Good hair' is a term used among the black community to describe hair that sits down on the head, and isn't kinky or tightly-coiled; basically the opposite of how black hair behaves naturally. Little black girls sometimes have their hair relaxed starting at a young age, even though the process involves harsh chemicals and is almost entirely aesthetically motivated.  

I understand that natural hair can be time-consuming and difficult to maintain (depending on the style), which is no doubt one reason many women look for alternatives. I think it's a shame that more women don't celebrate that which makes them unique, namely their beautiful, springy curls, as I for one think it's very good hair. 


  1. I didn't realise how common this was... fascinating and horrifying indeed. Natural afro black hair is beautiful. White women are always trying to get more volume at the root and black women are taking extraodinary measures to get less volume. Tragic that beauty takes such a singular form in our society.

  2. I also find this subject very interesting. Apparently the huge demand for natural, smooth/straight hair for weaves & extensions has generated a huge industry in India & Bangladesh where everybody has the "good hair" that this phenomenon demands.

    I think if I had afro hair I'd wear it in dreadlocks. I like that look.

  3. I love locs too! LOL! I had locs for 8 years, the best journey ever and my hair was down my back. Black women have been frying and dying their hair trying to make it into something it's not meant to be for many many years, especially here in the US. I think now though, Black women are trying to return to their own natural texture, although as we can see from this blog post, clearly we still have a ways to go. Excellent post Laura!

  4. The problem is that people feel that a lot of black people feel that natural hair is very difficult to manage and speaking from experience it can be PAINFUL! I used to end up in tears regularly when my mum did my hair when I had a 'fro, and at the age of 7 she finally gave in to my frequent relaxer requests which helped damage my hair years later.
    Most lengthening techniques for black hair will damage it: extensions (braids) and locs can be just as bad as weaves. Straightening and relaxing is no better. We need to learn to manage all our styles properly and have more role models with natural hair styles. Nice to see this topic getting more exposure :-)

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