Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Protective Style: Seriously, What Does It Mean?

   Is Protective Style merely a Euphemism (a mild or indirect word of expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing) to avoid using the real words to describe weave, extensions other techniques used to change our natural hair as it grows out of our scalp? What does it mean? Protecting our hair from what? I know some of you are saying, oh no, she didn't go there, but yes, I'm going all the way there. Let's begin with weave. What is it really? I won't be sharing any news here. Weave is hair from the heads of Indian women primarily, sold in stores for purchase and then added in to Black women's hair to make it appear that they have straighter and longer hair than is actually the case.  My question is therefore, a weave is protection from what? Perhaps the elements or is it from the environment in which one has to work and her natural tresses may not be considered to be "professional." Or, is it protection from someone walking up to you and asking if they can touch your hair because it is so "interesting" to them? Or perhaps it is protection from feeling like your nappy, kinky hair as it grows from your scalp is not beautiful and so it makes it easier to look in the mirror at long straight hair that is not your own but better places you in the "mainstream" of society in terms of the "dominant" group.  The reality of weave is this: 

Glue---really?  A copolymer adhesive? What does that mean? If you are curious, here is an explanation: http://www.anticorrosion-tape.com/Copolymer-Adhesive.html.  So how is this protective?  Protective of what?  Also, for some, the cost of weave is not a big deal because they can afford it.  But truly, others cannot and struggle to be able to afford it, neglecting other necessities to acquire their weave.  The last thing that I want to do is judge because clearly, everyone has the right to make their own decisions on how to style their hair and spend their money but I am merely asking the question regarding protective style and what this means? If one really wants to protect her hair, why not a beautiful silk scarf to brave the elements or whatever one is protecting her hair from?  The glue used for weaves can actually be quite harmful.  Here is an explanation of some of the major concerns: http://blackdoctor.org/4089/is-hair-glue-hazardous-to-your-health/  This article points out the following, amongst other concerns: 

"Glue extensions, or double sided tape, are often used with popular lace wigs. Unfortunately, they can cause damage that is often permanent. The glue can block your scalp pores and damage your hair follicles as well as burn and dry out your hair. Heavy extensions pull on your scalp resulting in thinning hair. It is difficult to clean your scalp with glue extensions in it creating unhealthy hair. Sometimes hair extensions can cause headaches and bald spots.Hair bonding glue contains high concentrations of soluble latex antigen and may cause anaphylaxis without mucosal contact. Repeated glue exposure may potentially sensitize consumers. Physicians, cosmetologists, and latex-allergic patients should be aware of bonding glue-induced immunoglobulin E-mediated reactions associated with hair alterations.Probably because the products made from latex are increasing in number, reactions to latex have become more common. Latex is found in balloons, rubber bands, condoms, elastic bands, bathing suits, underwear, waistbands, and rubber toys. The reactions to these items go beyond contact dermatitis, and may cause asthma, or even anaphylactic shock."

     Personally, wearing my hair naturally has led to phenomenal growth and thickness without the need for a "protective style."  When I had straightened hair and perms, many, many years ago, my hair was always thin and short.  As soon as I proceeded with wearing my hair naturally, it grew so much that honestly, I couldn't stop it from doing so.  I swim, walk in the rain without an umbrella, if I don't have one with me, wet my hair and sleep with or without a scarf and I don't need a "protective style" to make it grow or keep it from breaking or whatever the rationale that is indicated for such.  

    As for braided extensions, although there is an application of hair that is other than one's own, I don't think the purpose is "protective" either, although I hear this term in regard to it.  There is a notion by some that if their hair is in braids, with extensions, it will grow as there is less aggravation of one's hair.  With this I may agree but the extensions are not necessary to protect one's hair. Nevertheless, amongst African people, extensions were always present in a braided form.  Examples are presented  in the images below:

    So I remain unclear about the notion of a "protective style", hence the question, what does it mean? But one thing that I know without a doubt is that above all, Natural Is Cool Enough.  There is no greater protection for the mind, body and soul, inside and out than one's natural state of being. Ozzie Davis seemed to know this and spoke of it in a lovely poem that I think is definitely N.I.C.E.!

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