I Got Tired of Patting My Weave

curly-hair-weaveI recently attended a family reunion back home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now, my family is fab-u-lous. All of the women in my family are gorgeous. We stay with our hair laid and many of us are hairstylists ourselves. Some in my family have gone natural (like me) while others rock the chemically treated tresses. And, while I myself have turned away from the creamy crack called “relaxer,” many women I know and love still use it. The one thing though that reminded me of my less natural days was when one of my cousins patted her weave. A seemingly innocuous occurrence – being that fellow weave wearers everywhere know you pat your weave never scratch – it reminded me how much that used to annoy me.

Since stepping away from the creamy crack, direct heat, weaves, silicones, sulfates, thin-toothed combs, etc., I have seen drastic improvements in the length, thickness, and manageability of my hair. But, I still remember my reticence about moving away from all of these harsh hair treatments. I remember thinking that it was impossible to manage my hair without relaxing it. I thought I could only style my hair if it had been blown dry with direct, high heat. I thought my hair was supposed have a “squeaky clean” feel when I was done lathering, rinsing and repeating. I thought my hair was supposed to get dry and brittle  a week after a shop visit.  I thought hairs were supposed to snap off left and right when I combed it daily. I thought a lot of things that my natural hair care regimen has dis-proven for me.

One thing I didn’t realize though was how tired I had become of the cycle. Grow a little, break, grow a little, break again, stay long, break again – was the cycle I had become used to when I turned to weaves. During that time, this annoyance also took a toll on my personal identity and self-worth. I kept trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I couldn’t understand what was causing the breakage and lack of retained growth. Even after years of growing out my relaxer, I still hadn’t figured out what a real hair care routine looked like. So, to me, the weaves were the only answer. I could put them in and take them out quickly. They would look great to everyone else. And, most importantly, I didn’t have to bother with my problem hair.

Well, then the weave culture slapped me right in the face. I had to figure out what brand, what color, what length, side or middle part, enclosed or exposed, full-head or partial, bob or long layers, bangs or no bangs, Indian or yaky, blah blah blah. I literally felt like I needed to go to school to understand my hairstyle. Then, there was the daily upkeep, the flat irons, the curling rods, the weekly washes and hours under the hooded dryer. My weave became a thing. And, that was the last thing I wanted. I couldn’t scratch my scalp. I couldn’t REALLY wash my hair. My scalp was dry. My pores couldn’t breathe. After about a year, I was over it. Very very over it.

At some point, I realized that what I was doing did less for me than just figuring out how to take care of my own growing, natural hair. I was spending so much time trying to look a particular way; I neglected how the weave made me feel. Sure, I felt pretty. But, I also felt annoyed, stressed, overwhelmed, and, frankly, fake.

I got tired of patting my weave. Yes, Beyoncé may have mentioned it in a song or two, but trust, it isn’t that glamorous. I got tired of the weave worship. I got tired of the drama. So, I let it go.

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I wonder how silly I looked patting myself on the head in public. I shiver to think what non-weave wearers assumed I was doing.

I can honestly say that this past year or so without the weaves has been great. I typically rock a twist-out or flat twists in some type of design with my natural hair. And, during the summer, I rock the chunky Senegalese twists. But, my hair isn’t a thing anymore. That’s the best part. I finally got what I wanted AND it is healthy. It is longer than it has ever been without nearly the amount of time, money, and focus my prior styles required. I would say that’s a win-win-win.

It’s amazing the lengths we are willing to go to in the name of fashion or trends when our most natural state makes the most sense. Now, no more patting for me. I can simply oil my scalp when needed. Me and my scalp get along fine now. My hair is not a thing. I get to be me. It gets to be it. All is well.

Natural or not? Are you still patting your weave? How has your hairstyle impacted you?