Written by Nicole
March 10th was International Wig Day. I’m a few days late and a dollar short, but this topic is still somewhat important. With the world in chaos over COVID-19, I have seen some conversations about how this might impact black women’s chief hair supplier, since it all started in China, home to heavy hitters like AliExpress and possibly HerGivenHair. I wanted to touch on how this soon-to-be pandemic could perhaps lead more black women away from the path of yaki-wavy-Indian-Brazilian to embrace their natural kinks and coils.
Disclaimer: Because I do not want to contribute to the global panic happening right now, let me state that much of the topics I touch on in this post are rumors. I don’t trust anything that doesn’t come from a .gov source, and even then, sometimes I still have to take a grain of salt. As such, I have not linked where I saw these rumors, because they are exactly that, rumors. Additionally, I do not wish to discuss this in a way that fosters xenophobia, either. Any comments that do either of these things will be removed. And besides, this isn’t even fully about coronavirus as much as it could impact black women’s beauty practices.
With that disclaimer out the way…
I saw a tweet alleging that COVID-19 can survive in dead bodies for a time after death. I have also seen unrelated rumors (though unsubstantiated) that human hair can be harvested from prisoners and dead people. Even more rumors about yeti hair and horse tail hair have been circulated over the years, masquerading as virgin remi. There is an element of skeeviness to wigs and weaves in light of this pandemic panic, but not any more than before, either. But honestly, human hair pieces were always a bit suspect. There have been complaints of lice (and in some cases, subsequent happiness that the nits were there, because that meant the hair was genuine…barf). There is the issue of Christians wearing the hair of nonbelievers, sacrificed as part of their religious or cultural beliefs. And there is the problem that the women who have to give up their hair are historically disenfranchised, and receive an absolute pittance to part with their long locks. They sell their hair so they don’t have to sell their bodies. Human hair practices just seem ethically unsound no matter what angle you look at it and it has nothing to do with coronavirus or the source of the hair.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good unit. I am known to wear a variety of afro textured additions when the time is right. But as I’ve learned more about the hair industry, and started taking more hardline stances when it comes to black female beauty standards, I’ve definitely grown to strongly dislike the majority of weaves and wigs black women use in their daily lives.
Stateside suppliers are reporting that they have had difficulty sourcing bulk bundle orders as a result of COVID-19. And despite further reports saying that the virus has very low risk of spread from products or packaging, potential wearers of the weave are just a tad bit concerned. As such, for all the harm and panic that is resulting from the pandemic, one thing I do hope that comes of it, is that black women embrace their natural hair more.
When I was growing up, the goal of a hair piece was to seamlessly blend with your own hair. This is how I decide on a unit myself, synthetic, obviously. Of course, with time comes changes in beauty standards, as is expected. So, now we have mermaid colored hair down to our toenails, lace fronts that are not fooling anybody, and thousands and thousands of videos on YouTube broadcasting to the world the nigh on pathological lengths (figuratively and literally) we will go to hide, cover, tame, manage, lay, slay, melt, conceal, dye, fry, and lay to the side our own hair, or our latest wig/weave purchase. While I understand the need for such videos, the volume and the extent some women go to for this does two things – it removes the mystery and intrigue of the glamming up process, and shows the world how much we hate our hair. Like I have said, the hatred of our hair comes from inside our community before racist nonblacks have a chance.
But I am not one to pose a relatively solvable problem without a solution. Black women and hair is among the third rail topics of black womanhood, so I’m treading lightly. Coronavirus or not, I think more black women should just leave the weave, and try a new style. With the crowning of South African stunner Zozibini Tunzi, our natural type four hair has been sanctioned as beautiful on the global stage. Since natural hair can be a time-consuming endeavor, why not try a short style while you learn, or relearn, how to best care for your hair?
Not feeling the short hair so much, but you haven’t hit your own length goal? Well, since the virus can’t live on packaging for too long, there’s not a thing wrong with a synthetic unit while you go through the short phase. Though I have never tried them myself, Fingercomber is a black-owned synthetic hair brand that exclusively sells hair textures that mimic our own unique kinks and coils. They even have straight options that look like a kinky blowout!
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The perfect wig for #TUESDAY (-to save on time but still switch things up, rock #SUNDAY wig with an ANKARA mini wrap! -skip the hoops and pair it with some chunky studs if you still want to keep it looking professional) #WIGprepping #WIGplanning #WigOfTheDay #WhatToWearThisWeek #WORKFLOW #OFFICEFIYA Here’s a little FINGERCOMBER Wig inspiration to help you get yourself set up for the week ahead! #WIGLIFE The ORIGINAL FINGERCOMBER Unit from FINGERCOMBER.COM #africangirlskillinit #africanwoman #nigerianwoman #african #abuja #nigerianfashion #nigerian #nigeria #naija #nigerianfashion #bellanaijaweddings #ankara #dashiki #naturalhairdoescare #themaneChoice #healthy-hair-journey #curlsistas #amazingnaturalhair #curlboxHustle #instafcomber #girlboss #nigerianfashion #naturalhairdoescare #naturalista
Still not sure? One hairstyle guaranteed to survive an apocalypse is locs! I mean, Michonne has got by season after season with hers, that’s got to mean something, right? Many styles of locs can be self-maintained, and there are just as many styling options with locs as there are for loose natural hair with enough practice! Plus, because of the nature of locs, it is a little easier to reach longer lengths, since our fragile hair is less likely to break off!
I admit, it might have been a stretch for me to go from coronavirus to weaves and wigs. But, it’s still an important factor worth considering, plus I’ve seen other people online discussing it too, so there’s precedent. Perhaps if the human hair supply dries up, and manufacturing of synthetic wigs or even synthetic braiding hair grinds to a halt, maybe that would be the push black women need to embrace our own hair, without the chemicals and coverups (except for an expertly styled headwrap, that is!). There are far more serious considerations to think about when it comes to coronavirus, be it childcare if schools close, underinsurance, caring for aging family members, or, worst case scenario, survival. But we do revolve our lives around hair, so even in the face of illness and infirmity, we’ll have hair on our minds anyway. You can still look good in a pandemic. Looks obviously shouldn’t be a priority, but our relationship with hair is complicated, so it’s still worth considering.
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.