Ok, so imagine my trepidation when I walked into PAX last week and was assaulted on approach in front of staff and customers by the chef (before even getting the chance to order my sandwich) who boldly asked, “Is that all yours?” At first I wondered what he was referring to and whether he was even speaking to me, but then I realized his eyes were fixated on my hair – Well, my lacefront wig that is. Shocked, I then found myself unconsciously stroking my bouncy mane of F427 streaked, curly tendrils while I fished for the right answer. I mean, how does one really answer that question? Technically, it is all mine since I paid for it and after all it is being worn on MY head, but does it actually grow out of my scalp? hmmmm, No. So, do I tell him the truth? If I say “yes”, it would only be a little white lie, but I’m really not one for lying, and what if he ironically (with my kind of luck) bumps into me next week when I’m wearing my own natural mane that is the color 1B, and much less shorter and less thicker? I decided to go with the truth, so I answered “No, it’s not”. His eyes opened in amazement as though saying “No way!!” and I quickly tried to change the subject by attempting to order my sandwich. He then said “You look like you should be on the cover of a magazine”. Relieved by his seemingly non-disappointment or disapproval in my choice of fake hair, I smiled and said “thank you”, paid and left.
That whole incident had me thinking. First of all, I never would have expected a question like that to come from a man and one who doesn’t even know me at that. Why would he care about whether my hair is real or not? But then I remembered all the boyfriends I’ve had who were obsessed with my hair for some reason. They all dreaded my wigs and weaves and hated the idea that I even liked to wear extensions. One of them said to me, “It makes me think, what else is fake?”. After ditching my wig for a relaxer and bone straight coif, another even said to me, in the most relieved tone, “I thought you didn’t have any hair”. I mean really?? Is is that serious??
I will admit, I used to be one of those girls who swore up and down that I would never wear a weave much less a wig! “That’s for the ghetto girls!” I would say. The most I was willing to do however, was wear a “piece” and that was it! All that changed when I participated in the Miss World pageant in 2004. That was my first exposure to the real world of extensions. All the contestants were wearing it. I, with the exception of only a handful were the only ones who were not flaunting a full head of long flowing “pageant hair”. So when I was told that I would be going to the Miss Universe Pageant the following year, my pageant director and I decided to step our game up. He contacted Clem Lue Yat, a master hair weaver in New York to upgrade my hair for the pageant and that’s when I was introduced to fusion hair. This is the addition of tiny strands of hair to your own hair through the use of the “fusion method” usually glue or micro cylinders. I could not believe the results. I could wash, style, color and cut my hair as I normally would, without even the slightest detection. The hair moved and looked just like my own.
From there, it was no turning back for me. I started wearing weaves, half wigs, clip-in hair and fusion hair on a regular basis and eventually upgraded to lacefront wigs. Though I use them interchangeably, depending on my mood, budget and event, extensions have become a part of my lifestyle and is the best thing that has happened to me for these very practical reasons:
1. My own hair gets a break from damaging chemicals
My own natural hair (yes the one that grows from my scalp) is the healthiest and probably the longest it has ever been in my life and that is because I am able to relieve my hair from damaging relaxers while using wigs or extensions. I now only relax my hair somewhere around every 4 to 6 months instead of weeks. Many of us especially those with black hair, don’t realize the damage that is being done to our hair by the chemicals found in many of our hair products on the market today.
2. It gives me versatility and freedom
This is particularly true of lacefront wigs, which you can buy in different styles and colors and pretty much change your look everyday if you so choose to. It is also a quick fix for those times when unsuspecting, unplanned events may pop up which doesn’t give you the time to get to the hair salon.
3. It gives me a different look and feel
The good and bad thing about hair is that it can determine your mood. Ever notice how your mood is all funky if you’re hair isn’t looking right? Wearing extensions allows you to leave your home with great hair and a great attitude without stepping foot into a hair salon.
4. It saves time
For those of us, like me, who dread spending hours at the hair salon or an hour in the mirror styling our hair in the mornings, wearing extensions or a lacefront wig eliminates all that time you would usually spend on your hair. Now you can use that time to do other things like spending more time with the kids, or getting some well deserved extra sleep-time in the mornings.
5. Saves you money
This is my favorite part! With my own hair, I have to see my hair stylist at least once a week or I’ll be walking around with flat, lifeless hair which is a “No-No”. Wearing extensions or a wig however, is a one-time shot purchase that can last for months!
So a word or two for the guy I last dated, who insisted that I did not need to “impress” him by wearing fake hair, I say: “It’s not about you!” and it never was, because I wear my hair to suit me! Extensions have come a long way over the years (They are practically undetectable if done and worn well) and women of all walks of life and ethnicities wear them. That’s right, it’s not just a black woman thing, nor am I facing an identity crisis. All women even the white and latino wear extensions. My goodness all the celebrities do, even Beyonce and Rihanna are rockin’ extensions and lacefront wigs all day, everyday. Joan Rivers even removed hers on live tv during an episode of the Wendy Williams Show.
Extensions have become a lifestyle because it’s convenient and cost effective and the best part of all, it makes us feel and look great! So don’t judge us because we choose to wear a wig here and clip some hair in there. Our hair does not define us, so whether it is “real” or “fake” should not matter. We need to lose the taboo. In defense of my fellow black extension wearing divas and to the rest of you bold, daring women out there who have embraced this wonderful world of hair extensions I say: “You go girls!”