why do black women wear wigs

Like many of you I entered the new year with a set of personal goals for health, self-improvement, finances, business and family. But something stood out this year.

I noticed a recurring goal that’s managed to make it on my list of ‘important things to strive for in the year’ for over a decade.

My hair.

It was a painful realisation that growing out my hair has been an ongoing project with no end in sight.

No, I’m not talking of aspirations for 20 inch locs, I’m talking hair loss.

I grew up with a thick head of healthy, shoulder length hair that got me a lot of compliments as well as the occasional finger-poking-weave-checking-hair-police.

Between relaxers, over processing, over manipulation, tight braids, poor hair care practices, unskilled hairdressers, iron deficiency, an unbalanced diet in the past, childbirth, a history of Hyperthyroidism, or whatever other variable I am unaware of; I can’t say exactly what set off my thinning crown and bald patches.

I grieved the loss of what I once had and the frustration of still not having resolved my hair loss all these years.

What makes me want to tear my hair out (no pun intended!) Is, having done what I consider to be substantial in getting my hair to grow back- wearing wigs, going natural, vitamin supplements, low manipulation styling, natural products, herbal oils and concoctions, and improving my nutrition, it’s still not enough! Here I am, still at it in 2023.

My expectations on improving the condition of my hair aren’t overly ambitious at all. I’d be elated if the sparseness around my crown filled out so I wouldn’t have to worry if the camera flash or sunlight exposes the bald patches and thinning.

I dread the day- God forbid- a gust of wind snatches off my wig on a day I’m not wearing a wig cap. I just want to be done with playing out similar scenarios in my head.

As I write this, I’ll tell you this much: hair loss is a problem I’m confronted with daily and needless to say I wish I’d wake up to a head full of hair again.

While wigs have been a great solution for me, they’re also a reminder of the problem I’m faced with. Although I love the endless styles, convenience and appeal of having an instant head of hair, it doesn’t matter how great I feel and look or how many compliments I receive; the fact remains: A wig is not my hair.

Even though I’ve made peace with wearing wigs, I still wish I could confidently switch to my natural hair from time to time- especially in summer. The wig life chose me as unfortunately, I’m left with few options. Having said that, even though wigs aren’t always ideal (at the gym, swimming, sporting activities etc) it’s my preference to have hair on my head (whether artificial or not)  over ‘going commando’. For me, they’re kind of like wearing dentures, padded bras after a mastectomy or makeup to hide acne, and in life, sometimes you do what you have to do to show up confidently.

While I may have worn a wig even if I had a head full of hair, my experience of wearing one now isn’t the same, as it’s more of a compromise as opposed to a deliberate choice. Instead of an accessory I can do without, at times it can feel like a necessity I must endure.

Hair is a symbol of youth, health and beauty for women; and in a society whose unrealistic beauty standard for women centres on youthfulness, I’d be remiss to think I won’t be disadvantaged in various spheres of life if I chose to wear my hair loss.

Perhaps I could wear my hair out as political statement against the status quo- patches and all, however, volunteering myself as a lamb to the slaughter in a system that’s not bent on changing any time soon, is a form of wilful oppression I do not wish to subject myself.

So, even though I have my niggles with wearing wigs, I also recognise the freedom they offer. In a society where women are judged more by their looks, I feel liberated by the fact that they allow me to exercise personal agency in the way I show up in the world.


If you’re experiencing hair loss, know you’re not alone. Here’s to praying our follicles sprout forth healthy strong hair.