I have a chip on my shoulder.
And since it’s 2011, I probably also have a weave on my head, implants in my breasts, fake nails, and a whole host of after-market body accessories.
I’ve been trying to instill in my teenage daughters an appreciation of their own natural beauty. Of sun-kissed clear skin maintained through gentle treatment. Of bushy eyebrows. Of random moles and full lips. Of being proud of your strengths as well as learning how to be comfortable with your flaws, cause everybody has flaws.
Of being real.
Til recently, I’ve been able to dissuade my daughter from wearing fake hair. I talked about how one friend got so used to wearing a weave, that when her hair fell out from neglect, she still wouldn’t take it off because she “can’t walk around like that”. I’ve mentioned men who used to walk up and put their hands on your head to see if they could feel the weave tracks where hair had been painstakingly sewn in. We watched Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair, where women put thousand-dollar-hair on layaway; and where Nia Long confessed to having rules about not having her hair mussed when having sex..
I thought I was getting my point across. So I bent to a Halloween whim to buy a fake ponytail for my child’s fairy costume. I said “fairies don’t necessarily have long hair”, but….I caved, stressing that hiding behind a weave is not good..
I even armed her with an old joke, from weave’s infant days: if somebody said “That’s not your hair,” you said, “Yes, it is! I paid for it!” (neck roll encouraged).
She wore it one day, skipped a day then wore it again. Excellent. Fake hair as a mood changer, much like my oldest sister would put on a big afro wig in the 70’s. Like changing a purse to match the shoes. An accessory.
But, then, the lines grayed when she had to hurry and go with me to the store for some project supplies and, because we were in such a hurry ( a ‘hurry’ meaning I wasn’t willing to wait while she curled her hair), she tied on her drawstring ponytail. A bad sign that a weave immediately made the state of her hair acceptable?
I don’t know. I’m confused.
My thinking may have gone the way of the dinosaur: apparently wearing fake hair is no longer (if it ever really was) something to be hidden, but more like a mink stole to be proud of. There are some kids at school sporting braids with extensions; my niece got some extensions for her school pictures ‘for more body’ (and length).
With the continued success of reality TV (Bridalplasty anyone?), altering your physical appearance is normal. But I don’t want my daughters to emulate women who don’t resemble themselves; who don’t look like they did when they got out of bed in the morning...
All I know is that I want them to wake up, go to the bathroom, and smile at the person reflected in the mirror.