If your hair is a hot mess and you’re short on time to fix it, what do you do?
- Cancel your plans (leaving you with plenty of time to fix your hair)
- Pull your hair into a bun and go through the day feeling kind of blah
- Cover your hair with a scarf or other hair covering
- Wear a wig
Most of my colleagues would go with option 2, but options 3 and 4 are probably equally likely for most Africans. But it’s option 4 that fascinates me: the wig.
Over here, wigs are generally reserved for grannies, people who are wearing a costume, or people who’ve lost their hair (usually due to cancer). Wig wearing as an everyday hairstyle is not something I’ve seen among my peers (though maybe they just have good wigs!). This is a different story among African women, however.
One thing I love about Nigerian women, regardless of age, is how so many of them really explore the versatility of hair. It doesn’t matter if she has hair to her bum or the tiniest of afros, most women experiment with tons of different styles and hair textures in their lifetimes, from weaves to dreadlocks to wigs (and everything in between). They don’t shy away from hair that isn’t theirs (one girl I know says “if I bought it, it’s mine” in response to being asked if her weave was her own hair). If one complains about how annoyed they are with their hair or about seeking low-key suggestions (*cough* me *cough*), wearing a wig is often suggested as an option. Most Nigerian women I know have a wig in their arsenal: they may not wear it regularly but it’s perfect for those times when your hair has reached its limit: it’s in need of a relaxer and you don’t have time, it needs a rest from braiding (due to the dreaded receding hairline caused by over-braiding!), or for there’s an event where you want to dramatically change up your look.
My mom added wigs to her arsenal recently, and they look amazing on her (it helps that she’s gorgeous!). I’m always surprised by how much they change her look. When she first wore one after years of braiding her hair, her colleagues asked if she had “decided to wear her hair curly” now, thinking that she just started using rollers in her hair rather than having braids. She set them straight and that was that, except for one woman who actually wanted her to remove the wig to prove it wasn’t her hair.
For me, I guess I have the North American mentality when it comes to wearing a wig, but let’s face it: my biggest wig fear would be having my wig fall off in public! Even with all the precautions one can take (clips, wig cap) I’d still be too self conscious to carry myself naturally while wearing a wig—in my constant attempts to ensure it was in place I’d be touching my wig all the time, leading people to think I either have lice or I’m narcissistic.
Have you ever worn a wig (as part of a costume doesn’t count!)? If so, did you have any interesting interactions with non-Nigerians who were curious about your new ‘do?