A Hairy Situation

I received an ad for hair extensions targeted to brides – because it’s not a real wedding unless the bride looks like a lion with a thick head of hair. It is an interesting beauty accessory, but, unfortunately, not meant for everyone.

I learned the hard way that white women can’t wear hair extensions.

When I was 17 years old, I decided to give extensions a try. Until then, my hair had never been below my chin. It was kept short throughout my youth because my hair is extremely thick and, frankly, I could not be trusted with it. Any time my hair and I went near a small object – gum, paper clips, Barbie doll high hells – it ended up in my hair. It didn’t take much effort, either. My head had such a strong gravitational pull that random items were sucked in like a dust bunny in a vacuum cleaner. I explained the theory to my stepmother who just shook her head while she cut another G.I. Joe out of my hair.

Eventually I reached a point in my life where I wanted to try long hair, but I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to grow. For months I lathered various kinds of oil and hair growth serums into my scalp. But it just tinted my hair green and made the bathroom smell like Olive Garden.

Finally, I decided it was time to try hair extensions.

I went to a hair salon in Ft. Lauderdale that specialized in braiding. When I entered, a few women looked up from the TV set and put their cigarettes down. I explained what I wanted and one woman sat me down in a barber chair. She tousled my short, red hair then tapped her fake fingernails on my scalp. “We just have to find a color that matches your hair,” she said blowing smoke into my face.

After assembling all of the necessary material, the woman set to work twisting and yanking and braiding my hair, section by section.

Three hours later I stood up with a full head of long, red braids. The braids added at least 10 pounds to my head so it took a few moments to find my center of gravity.

It didn’t take long for me to realize all of the fun things a person can do with long hair. I liked sweeping the hair back from in front of my shoulder in a dramatic fashion to signal my entrance or exit from a room. A few times I gestured so hard that I whacked people in the face with the braids. I also enjoyed putting my hair in a ponytail, although it was hard to find a hair band that was thick enough to hold it.

After a few weeks with my new hair I grew tired of the lifestyle. My scalp itched uncontrollably because the hairs were braided so tightly. I would sit in English class, both hands feverishly scratching at my scalp as flecks of hairspray and dandruff littered the pages of the book on my desk.

The extensions also proved to be challenging to wash. There was never an opportunity to run my fingers through my hair to fully saturate it with water, so I would dump gobs of shampoo on top of my head, wait five minutes and wash it away.

And worst of all, the braids started to fall out because my hair was too oily to hold them in. Everyone knew my exact moves because of the trail of braids I left behind me. Some of the guys at school would pick up my hair extensions in the hallway and tuck them into the back of their baseball caps like rat tails.

I endured this lifestyle for another few months until eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and began the lengthy process of cutting them out of my hair.

Since then I managed to grow my hair just below my shoulders once, but it didn’t take long for me to return to the comfort of my short hair. And that’s the way it is going to be. If Sebastien wanted to marry a long-haired woman, too bad. I won’t even change it for the wedding day. Can you imagine pieces of my hair flying around the dance floor or falling into the champagne during our wedding toast?

And if you are going to get hair extensions for your wedding, just be careful when you’re intoxicated. A few times I accidentally lit the extensions on fire mistaking a braid for a cigarette.

About JadedBride

Amy Kraft is a print and radio journalist based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, The Week, Psychology Today, and Distillations, a podcast out of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She is currently working on a book of humor essays. View all posts by JadedBride

3 responses to “A Hairy Situation

  • TravelingHatter

    Hillarious! I remember those extensions. I picked up a few of them myself and now they are attached to my multi-colored Jamaican dreadlock cap.

  • Melissa

    Haha. I remember finding those extensions in the back seat of my car, in the bed and outside by the front door! I can picture you in the big bath tub. It reminded me of a scene from the little mermaid. I hope to see that beautiful, low maintnance, short hair at the wedding. Also, no curlers. That was a mess! I wouldn’t want a plastic curler, that was tangled in your hair ruining your beautiful wedding pictures.

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