Hair extensions are an assault on the dignity of beauty in blackness

By Busi Khumalo

Ever wondered how much a weave costs? Well, these days women invest in good quality hair extensions that can last them years if taken care of very well. The key word is “care”.

If washed correctly, dried correctly and conditioned, hair extensions can last for a long time. SO many women feel that good quality hair extensions are a worthy investment and can cough up hundreds of pounds for them.

They never really tell men exactly how much they cost, however the irony is that most women do not actually know how much good quality hair extensions cost-it may surprise you.

Braiding hair has existed since the beginning of time right. It serves the purpose of creative styling, protecting hair from harsh conditions, allowing hair to grow and locking in moisture. Braiding has evolved from using just hair, to integrating the hair with string, wool, synthetic hair, to sewing hair extensions on top of braided hair-weaves. Somehow the natural process of temporarily preserving hair has gradually become a necessary and permanent solution for most women.

Somehow it has become normal and “easier” to invest in someone else’s hair than to look after your own. Is it really easier to look after Indian hair than it is to look after African hair? In Ndebele we have a saying “Indlovu kayisindwa ngumphoko wayo”, meaning an Elephant’s tusk can never be too heavy for the Elephant.

Has it ever occurred to you that Indians, Peruvians, Malaysians and Europeans invest in their own hair so well that even after they have shaved it off its in good condition that someone else can use it for years? I found an interesting story on the Huffington post. (link and the bottom)

Let me quote the author,

“Conveniently, I was living at an orphanage with hundreds of girls — who soon became my beauty mentors. These girls were humble, generous, brave and resilient, not letting their circumstances come in the way of their dreams. To me, they embodied being beautiful on the inside.

However, their outer beauty shone though too. They divulged these recipes, passed down from generation to generation: secrets for smooth skin and glossy hair.”

The author was given beauty secrets by Indian orphans. This proves that in India, no matter how poor you are, looking after your skin and hair in enshrined in their culture.

So you see, the poor people who donate their hair actually look after their hair more than most black people who depend on that hair, do to their own hair. Maybe, just maybe if black people invested as much as they do on weaves, they would not need those weaves. Mind you braiding hair is also common in India, but not a permanent hairstyle.

\SO how much do hair extensions cost?

They cost black people the ability to carry their own tusk, or must I say task of investing in ways to make their own hair beautiful, manageable and healthier. It costs black people the wisdom to pass to the next generation a message to embrace and love being black.

  • Busi Khumalo is a Zimbabwean Feleb. Article appears on Khuluma Afrika.