Supermodel Naomi Campbell recently let slip (literally) that her luxuriant locks were actually a hairpiece. British singer Alexandra Burke has also been photographed displaying what looks like severe traction damage to her temples.
Owing to the fashion for sleek hair, many Afro-Caribbean women feel compelled not just to tame their locks, but to alter their very hair texture with what has come to be known as ‘creamy crack’ or hair relaxant. Many won’t leave the house until not a sprig of ‘nappy hair’ – a term given to tight wiry curls – can be seen. They will often also add extensions on top as Afro hair is hard to grow beyond a certain length. Then come the straighteners and possibly hair colourants, styling products and hair ornaments as well.
There is much debate in the Afro-Caribbean community about whether going to such lengths is pandering to white expectations about what ‘good hair’ is and should they really strive to give their hair what might be termed ‘a caucasion’ look?
Many Afro-Caribbean women are not necessarily into the rights and wrongs of hair politics however – they just want easy-to-care for sleek hair to style – even though for them this means anything but, and several times longer in the bathroom or beauty salon than if they’d been born with naturally straight hair.
Unfortunately the over-processing of ethnic hair naturally inclined to kinks and frizziness and thus breakage, can come at a high price. and regular oiling is not always enough to prevent severe damage leading to loss.
Then there are the usual suspects for hair loss on top to counter such as age or genetic-related DHT.
On the plus side, Afro-Caribbean women have always found it easier to carry off the wigs, weaves, extensions and multifarious styles they employ with aplomb as the majority of the non Afro-Carribean populace has no idea what natural Afro-Carribean hair should look like anyway. Plus many Afro-Carribean women have the sense of style to transform their hair problems into inventive and funky, sometimes enviably so, solutions.
Which isn’t to say that hair loss does not bother them. Just that they are generally better at disguising it than the rest of us.
Conversely I can well understand the frustrations of having a full head of hair which doesn’t behave the way you want it to, particularly when you are young and want to be fashionable. I used to curse my own (caucasion) hair simply for being too red, too thick and wavy in all the wrong places. I often wonder now if someone heard those curses.