When I first came to Nigeria, I was puzzled by how my students changed hairstyles and lengths every few weeks. I just didn't get it. Then someone clued me in that most of it is fake hair.
We do Lily's hair once a week if we're just plaiting her own hair (braided to her head--cornrows or a variation). We try to do it on Friday or Saturday so it will look nice for church--that's really important here.
This week we used attachments (fake hair). Lily went with me to the market and looked at the types of hair to choose from--there are at least 50! She wanted to buy blonde attachments so she could be like Mommy, but I think it looks better to use just a little bit of blonde as a highlight . However, I did let her get purple attachments! When Esther braided her hair, she used two sections of black and one section of purple on each braid. It's a purple-black and it actually looks really nice. You can't see it in the picture--you have to see it in just the right light. This hairstyle should last her about 2 weeks. An adult could possibly keep it for 4 weeks. Lily has to wear a stocking cap at night to keep it from getting messed up. By the way, Esther (in the above photo) is wearing fake hair.
Lily is amazingly patient for a 3 year old. This particular style took about 4 hours. I'm told it's a bit painful--I've never tried it myself.Later in the day, we put the rubber bands in and that took another hour--she fell asleep during that procedure.
This is one of my favorite styles on Lily. Every hairstyle has a name. When you make individual braids that come off the head, that's called "Bob Marley." The little cornrows framing her face are called "babyface." I guess I could call this style the "double bob" since it's Bob Marley done like a bob. I often request the "babyface" style so her hair is not hanging in her eyes.
Over the years I have learned that black hair and white hair are extremely different. Black hair is very dry. Women are always putting cream or vaseline on the scalp between the braids. They also put oil directly on their hair regularly. My friends are shocked that I wash my hair every day because it's so oily. Black hair breaks very easily. It is very rare to see a black woman whose natural hair is shoulder-length. The women I work with always cringe when I cut my hair. They would never cut their hair on purpose. Black women get a perm to straighten their hair--and they cannot get their hair wet when they have a perm. During the rainy season, it's common to see women wearing plastic bags on their heads when a rain suddenly comes upon us.
One day I hope to learn how to make a few simple hairstyles for my daughter myself.