There comes a time in almost every young black girl’s life when someone sits them down – usually an older, wiser black woman—and explains to them the difference between extensions, weaves and wigs. For me, it was my cousin Sandra after I had just seen a photo of Tyra Banks on a runway with long, straight hair and asked, “Why doesn’t my hair look like that?” Well, now you don’t need a black Auntie or relative to break down the different types of fake hair for you. Zendaya has got you covered. In a video posted to her YouTube channel, Zendaya breaks down the distinction between the most common ways women add length to their hair.
She could teach a class on this sh-t, right? I love her for it. How often do you see celebrities speaking so freely about beauty additions that are not natural?
Of course, fake hair is not just for black girls and not every black girl goes through the same hair journey. Shout out to the natural hair movement but don’t get it twisted, the fake hair industry is still a multi billion dollar machine. Note: even if your add-ons are real, colour 1B Brazilian human hair, I’m using “fake hair” as a way to describe the sh-t that’s not what you got from your mama, OK? As Clover Hope over at Jezebel notes, Zendaya’s video is “a reminder that celebs are always wearing weaves.” I would add that it’s a reminder that a lot of celebs are always wearing extensions. The difference is that extensions are usually clips. Weaves are sewn into hair that is braided. I could be generalizing here but I would guess that most of the time, clip-in extensions are what white celebs are wearing. My white girlfriends who work in front of the camera wear clip-ins. Weaves are what a lot of black celebs wear, mainly because hair with thicker texture is easier to cornrow so the weave can be sewn in. Also, it lasts longer. My hair was in a weave on and off for over a decade (click here for a refresher on my complicated relationship with my hair). Now, I still wear my hair in a style that requires added length but rope twists are a whole different ordeal and you don’t have that much time. Maybe that could be Zendaya’s next tutorial.
On Tuesday, I referred to Britney Spears’ bad hair as a weave. Britney’s hair has been so busted at times, I don’t even know what to call it but I would guess they were clip-in extensions mostly and a true weave only sometimes. The word “weave” has become the go-to word for fake hair so it’s usually the default. If you were yelling at me through your computer screen that Britney had extensions, not weaves, I KNOW. Let’s leave Britney’s weave/extensions/whatever alone for now.
Let’s talk about wigs. I’ve never tried a lace front wig but I want to SO badly. Beyonce has the Rolls-Royce of lace front wig collections, obviously. Zendaya describes them as what she wears when she wants to change her hair colour or entire look. She says they are, “The best when it comes to full coverage and looking natural. They can be applied with tape and/or glue.” It’s the glue that freaks me out a bit but I mostly want one because it’s a relationship rite of passage for whatever dude I’m dating to find an oversize bag of hair in my closet. My response is usually, “What?” I would love for people to find an assortment of mannequin heads with various wigs on them in my closet. My response will still be, “What?”
Anyway, Zendaya’s honesty about her hair variations is refreshing. Let me repeat this: almost ALL of your favourite celebs wear fake hair for big events. There may be a few exceptions but it’s just as common as getting their teeth whitened. (Lainey has admitted to and regretted judging celebs for wearing fake hair in the past, probably because her hair is goddamn perfect.) There should be no shame in it. Especially when black women are judged relentlessly for our hair, I’m all for celebs being more open about the lengths they go to add volume and length to their own locks. Instead of asking, “Why doesn’t my hair look like that?” maybe little girls will now be asking, “I wonder how many tracks Zendaya is wearing to make her hair look like that?” Perspective.