Charlene and I

The Great Weave Journey

For those of you who may not know, Charlene is the name I gave to my hair. Yes, I actually named my hair, there’s weirder things out there people. Don’t judge me.

I don’t know about you but in Lusaka Zambia where I’m from and most parts of the country and continent no doubt you will find a common denominator amongst the female folk, that is weaves.

I got my first weave while at college, I was 20 years old, weaves had been around a while by then, I just wasn’t taken by them. I personally did not like the whole fake look about the ones that were mostly being worn at the time.

I cannot really remember what prompted me to get a weave, I just remember that it took one time and I was hooked. Days after getting my weave put in I’d start planning for my next one.

I loved the versatility that they allowed me, I could have long wavy locks all down my back one month, next I’d have a cute pixie cut, next a coloured bob, then a curly do, and the possibilities were endless.

I stayed hooked on weaves till last year when I asked my landlady-I call her Auntie, as it is African custom to refer to your elders who aren’t related to you as Auntie, Uncle, Grandma or Grandpa- to help me take down my weave by using a blade release it from my braided hair.

I figured, she is a woman so I have nothing to worry about. Boy was I in for a shock. I forgot to take into account the fact that she only has one child, a teenage boy and that of the 1 year 4 months I have stayed in her home, she has only had a weave once, she keeps her hair short and coloured, usually red, it looks real cool.

So, I sat down and let her have a go at my hair with a sharp object at night when lighting probably isn’t all that good. Long story short, when I took down my braids from my weave, I ended up with a lot more than shed hair on my hands.

Add on to the messy hair cut I was given, a section was actually scalped and I ended up with a panic attack inducing bald patch.

Previous to this encounter, I asked my boyfriend to help me take down my weave, he was a lot gentler but took forever and a day to finish and I had to put up with a bus load of complaints and declarations of the impossibility and futility of the endeavour, he did not, however, scalp me or cut off any of my strands, I guess it was because I kept warning him not to or there would be blood and it wouldn’t be mine.

It was then, after Auntie put me through a traumatising weave take down process in April last year that I swore off weaves for a year.

Now, this was not my first bad weave take down experience, I had a few in my 4 year weave experience but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Weaves are just one of the ways we were meant to protective style our hair. Protective styles are styles that preserve the health of the hair by minimising daily damage and breakage caused by handling. These styles work by tucking away the ends of the hair, which happen to be the oldest and most fragile parts of our hair.

When done properly i.e. installed and taken down with care, weaves can be a very effective method of protective styling, however, most people when putting in weaves tend to pull too hard at the roots of the hair, bad news for those tender edges.

And we tend to take better care of the weave than they do of the hair that grows out of their scalp leading to very dry and brittle tresses after take down, to be fair, it is difficult to effectively moisturise hair while it is hidden away under a weave.

For me, weaves turned out to be more hustle than I could deal with and can we talk about the cost please! You will not believe how much I was spending every month on my hair- and it wasn’t even my hair!

In all, no matter how good looking what we put on our hair is, it still is not worth sacrificing the health of our hair and scalp and while some of you may argue that it is “just hair”, not if you an african woman. We take pride in our crowning glory. And this at the end of the day is what this post is all about, taking pride in your own hair and attaching as much value as we do to our weaves, we get more returns from this than we ever would from any weave, even if that weave had been prayed upon and marinated in holy water and anointing oil.

Till next thursday. Have an awesome one!

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