Monday, February 28, 2011

The Weave Tap

My hair is boring.  It gets pretty blonde highlights from the sun and sometimes a little curl when I play with it, but other than that, it stays pretty much the same unless I were to shave it all off.  I am therefore fascinated by the phenomenon that is women’s hair here. 
For example, yesterday, I went “hair shopping” with Lumka to pick out the hair extensions that would be used to create braids for her.  We looked at different fibres, textures, colours, and even discussed how many packages of hair she would need to have a complete hairdo.  Naturally, her hair is a cute short length, but in our 6 months here, I’ve seen her in a wide range of styles from a bob with bangs to short twisties to long cornrows. 

Lumka also introduced me to what I've deemed the “weave tap”.  When we first Lumka, I thought she had a nervous tic that made her hit herself in the head repeatedly.  It was only recently that I learned that when you have bonded hair (when a hairpiece is sewn onto your braided head), it’s very itchy but using your fingernails might mess the style.  Also, as Sarah and I learned in the impromptu thunderstorm on our Hogsback weekend, rainwater is the natural enemy of women’s hair here.  God forbid if you are outside when it’s raining without your garbage bag headdress.  Even men’s hair can be interesting artwork and I have learned the purposes of coconut oil for itchy scalps, the washing and dreading process, and how to brush dread designs back into place.
I know that articles and documentaries have been written about the socio-economics behind black women’s hair and the statement a woman is making by leaving her hair natural or using procedures such as relaxing.  Similarly, income seems to determine the quality of hairstyle and how often you can have it re-done.  But without analyzing that side of it, it is just another world that I am learning about with the help of our friends who patiently explain all the processes and products.  I am just happy to gain these valuable lessons in international hair issues!     

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