A wig is a saviour on a bad hair day

Amanda Ngudle

Amanda Ngudle

The stigma associated with wigs is a hard one to shed.

Even today retired old nurses blame their permanently receded hairlines on the wig trend that ruled back in the 70s through to the 80s.

"Before then every lady depended pretty much on her own hair, whether it was a glorious mane or a big flop that had to be covered with a doek," says Sandton hair stylist Jerry Bosankwe.

"But I've always said that God would never be so mean as not to give us options."

Judging by the demand for and success of the wig and human hair extension, it seems the number one and most conveniently instant of make-overs comes in the form of wigs.

I have always considered the wig option a big sign of weakness and an easy way out.

"But who said life has to be difficult?" asks Bosankwe. "For the same reason that we have washing machines and reading glasses, we have life-improving options such as wigs and hair extensions," he points out.

But what if my new wig comes from some starving, scruffy orphan in Bangladesh?

Reports abound about the origins of hair extensions, wigs and so-called synthetic hair and an industry that is said to be highly exploitive.

Some even suggest that to own a wig is like endorsing a crime as heinous as human trafficking, slave trade or worse.

Yet how many women admit having wished they had a wig for those inevitable bad hair days?

I bought mine for R100. Surely it would have cost more had it been real human hair. So I think a woman like me deserves some credit for the conscious decision to go with fake hair.

"It's like choosing fake fur over the real thing," says Petunia Ragalakalane of Unicef.

"Small things add up. The little conscious decisions you make in one instance have a far-reaching effects in another instance."

Seeing that we can now grow and sell dreadlocks, could we be inspiring crimes of a similar nature as those linked to straight human hair extensions?

"Funny enough I don't see that happening," says Mamiki Mlonzi of Miki's Locks Care in Alexandra.

"No matter how clean and well groomed dreadlocks are, people would be less inclined to buy other people's dreadlocks."

"I think black people are too proud to wear other people's hair, though in comparison with the rest of the races our hair is the hardest to maintain.

"Face it, even dreadlocks are are not without problems. They are expensive and need twisting every now and then.

"Why do you think even Oprah indulges herself in hair extensions on her show?"

I had always wondered if I had a different option from just going with dreadlocks, which does not suit everybody anyway..

Hence my decision to try out a wig and, gosh, what a relief it was. Its a new me under that head of hair