The Plastic Truth About Protective Styles

Sharonda Walker, English, Garinger High School

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


Have you thought about why weaves are worn? Why is there so much
controversy around hair? How are hair weaves, wigs, and extensions attached to one’s identity, presented, and valued? These are questions we will find the answers to in this study. Hair has always been a topic of discussion when it comes to fashion, media, occupations, and schools. It is not rare to hear the news talking about an employer and/or school discriminating against a particular hairstyle which includes the color, texture, length, and weaves. Not only are females finding themselves criticized for their hair, but males are too. Being a part of the African American community, I have fallen victim to the many attacks against self-esteem and identity regarding hair. In my youth, I remember begging my
mother for a perm to emulate the images seen of the majority in my camp, movies, and tv. I cringed at knowing that every time I went swimming my hair would not lay flat going down my neck and back, but instead scribble up into a tiny afro. In those times I negatively identified my hair as nappy. Luckily, the world now has more representation, education, and products for people who have hair like mine…Natural. It is very common for people to wear styles that save on time, products, and maintenance known as protective hairstyles. We can see this with celebrities while they are on stage, on tour, in videos, and in everyday life (thanks to the Paparazzi). The images and representation of hairstyles, hair wigs, weaves, and extensions heavily influence all audiences and especially K-12 students. The youth is
very impressionable, and the goal of this unit is to analyze and educate on hair and protective styles.