Hair Tales: The African Perspective, Part I
Part 1: The Expense of Hair Maintenance for Black Women in America
Braids, curls, cornrows, mohawk, weaves, Afro, Damn!!! ….. You would agree with me that when it comes to hairstyles, we have it all. Today it could be short and permed, tomorrow we could have it served, straight and silky. Just like a TV show, we keep you locked in with our daily hair “swap.” Black women hairstyles are legendary!
Girl! I love me ‘black’ any time.
Back home, in Africa, changing hairstyles was a norm that was usually done every 3-4 weeks. It was one of the reasons I appreciated being a woman. I mean, there was this joy that came with wearing a new look, not to mention the sweet compliments and attention that could last a lifetime. The beautiful part was that it was easy and affordable to get it done. I could look around and find a plethora of hair salons wanting to have my frizzy hair transformed through their state of the art skills. No appointments needed and for some, services run till as late as 11pm. Awesome, right?
Living in America came with its own taste of hair experience. Although I was told that getting my hair done in a salon was expensive, I decided to give it a try anyways. After driving miles to get to the beauty supply store and finally to a salon, I was speechless for a while when the price slipped through the mouth of the stylist. You mean what?? $100 for crochet braid??Embarrassed at my shock, I immediately wore a smile. I began to negotiate the price by softening my voice. I was told nicely “Sorry ma’am, the price is fixed. You can come back once you can afford it.”
Angry and upset, I turned to the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ route, which had never been more attractive at that point. I jumped from one YouTube video to another and coupled the effort with a deep attention to details. I felt empowered and ready to get me a new look.
I could swear that the video appeared so easy until I spent 5 hours trying to practice what I had watched earlier. Getting those crochet braids on became like solving advanced calculus as my hands tired out in minutes and I wasn’t anywhere near done.
Thank goodness it was a Saturday. Even though I regretted doing it and was willing to let my hair age for months, the compliments from people after the hair was completed wiped the stress off my memory. By the end of the month, I had my hair loosened and urghhh… I was at it again, but this time 5 hours became 3 hours. Yay!
So I decided to surf the internet just to know if the stress I was going through was worth it and how other black women fared when it comes to hair care in America. According to the website madamenoire.com, the prices of hair extensions and services annually ranges from $4,000 to $80,000. OMG!! That’s enough to get a car or even a house.
To most of us, the range above is not an affordable one to just budget for hair care only. What is the solution to this? Do we need more education on how to care for our hair ourselves within our communities? There are plenty of videos on social sites about hair care, but the process and the cost of the hair supplies is pretty high. Is this just the price we should accept and live with because we have black hair?
I believe that our hair is a great asset to us but creating a balance between our hair passion and the outrageous price that comes with it is still an ongoing issue that needs to be resolved. Maybe you have the answer to this puzzle you are willing to share with me. Please feel free to share your experiences below in the comment section!
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