Whether you call them box braids, cassamas braids, plaits, extensions, dookie braids or just simply braids
who comes up with these names anyways? you will be pleased to know that they are definitely back in trend this season thanks to Miss Solange Knowles who is killing us with her boho-meets-retro chic-ness. I pay homage to thee: move over Brandy (a.k.a Moesha) there is a new braidy queen in town!!
braids were the only means of attaining the lengthy tresses naturally grown by the European Caucasian girl
For the little African girl growing up, braids were the only means of attaining the lengthy tresses naturally grown by the European Caucasian girl. They bounced and swayed, could be tied in a low ponytail or a high ponytail but most importantly they possessed a certain beauty and charm which the ‘afro’ did not offer.
In the glorious days of ‘The Farrah Fawcett flick’ or ‘The Rachel’, for the black woman in the 90’s it was all about Janet Jackson’s braids in the film Poetic Justice (1993). Anybody remembers Tupac in that film?
Forget Janet! I had a major crush on the dude but that’s another story.
Then came the teen queen Brandy Norwood who rocked
my our TV screens in the smash hit sitcom Moesha. She most certainly made it acceptable for teenagers to wear braids in an age where wigs and hair extensions were predominant on television. I felt very betrayed and let down when she succumbed to industry pressures by the early 2000 and began wearing weave. It took away her authenticity, a bit like Erykah Badu wearing a weave! O_O
Nonetheless, I will always have love for Brandy since she was a great role model in her time
never once would you see her cleavage exposed or her trotting in a bathing suit or whatever while performing a la Rihana & co
Fast forward to 2011 and we have ourselves a winner! YES, we can all be a part of the Braidy bunch again – our very own at least. I have always been a hair chameleon, so nothing fazes me. I am pleased because in my opinion, braids give black women a sense of identity – or rather, it enables them/us to embrace the essence of who we are and the heritage from our ancestors.
Straight hair extensions (weave) are beautiful but it takes a brave lady to carry this look forward and take it all in her stride. Solange Knowles I salute you!
Now my trip down memory lane… loool This will forever be one of my favourite songs by Brandy. Hope you enjoy it. *hands swaying in the air tut tut tut
DOs and DON’Ts:
- DO carry out some mental preparation: plaiting braids can take as much as 5-10 hours. Your bottom will become numb at various points, there will be pullings, probings and squeezings. In the worst case scenario you may just cry!
- DO wear it very long. It is a no-brainer but for me personally longer has always been better since I always lose my hair bands, I find it easiest to tie them up into a knot instead.
- DON’T use too much hair extensions. It gets very heavy so can break your natural hair (especially the hairline). Remember that you are carrying a load on your head and your neck is not accustomed to it. Basically avoid unnecessary aches and pains.
- DON’T burn the tips of the braids to secure the knot. It will stick to your clothes and can damage them in the long term. Also having cotton bubbles from your jumper at the tip of your braids is not a cute look.
- DO plait the braids to their tips as it looks less messy and soak them in very hot water to secure the tips.
- DO wash it every 2 weeks. You do not want it to smell like the Devil’s pit!
- DON’T keep them for more than 10 weeks. Braids are a good method of growing your hair but having them for too long will have the opposite effect.
- DON’T forget to accessories your outfit. There are things in life which cannot be forgiven!!
This is a photo of me taken in Hilton hotel in Kenya (2008). I often choose wild colours when I braid my hair. In this photo I combined three shades of brown with some red.
Friend Natasha has a very eclectic personal style which I love. Her and Vava are directors of Save The Congo, a not for profit organisation which raises awareness and lobbies for rape victims in DR Congo.
Here are my little protégés called ‘Fishnetz’.
Secretly I wish I was this cool when I was their age. I love these girls and their sense of style. Perhaps that is the beauty of the braids; they posess a certain air of innocence which transcends age groups. So make your style work for you.
Are you prepared to carry the weight this season? (see how I did that? lol) Is this a hairstyle for you?