Chestnut Hill resident Mary Gulivindala gets a “weave” from Sylvia Sydney, who “had never weaved a white woman's hair, and I was a virgin head,” at Follicles Hair Design Center, 8229 Germantown Ave.

Chestnut Hill resident Mary Gulivindala gets a “weave” from Sylvia Sydney, who “had never weaved a white woman’s hair, and I was a virgin head,” at Follicles Hair Design Center, 8229 Germantown Ave.

by Mary Gulivindala

First, I absolve any persons mentioned below from the end results of my hair calamity. I am white and ignorant of the actions needed to maintain fake (real) long hair. I take full responsibility.

I’ve always wanted long hair and had been toying with the idea of getting clip-on hair since I saw comedienne Kathy Griffin do a presentation on her TV show. In a split second, she clipped long, thick hair and proclaimed, “Everyone in Hollywood wears them, even the Kardashians.” Bingo, if it’s good enough for HOLLYWOOD, then I want in on it. Long, beautiful hair at last.

On a whim I drove over to the Hair Expo, a beauty supply store mostly for African American women located on Crittenden Street. I boldly walked in and was asked, “May I help you?” I replied, “Yes, you can. I want to buy some hair, and since you’re in the business, I need your help.”

Well, the look she gave me was a “What?” After an awesome educational tutorial on the “What,” she told me, “We don’t have white people hair here; you have to go to the mall for that hair.” So I drove to the Plymouth Meeting Mall. I was on a mission.

I walked into the store, and there they were, packs of weaveable hair. Long hair, longer hair, colored, human, synthetic and an entire wall of different hair. I had no idea about buying weaves. I was overwhelmed! The salesperson charged right at me to help, another tutorial. I browsed for a full second and decided the sticker shock of buying long hair, $99, which is cheap, wasn’t in my budget. Plus I would have to pay someone to sew it in.

I picked up a few items, walked to the register and saw a small pack of hair on a display stand. I asked, “What’s that?” The answer: “That is shorter hair for clips. It’s just $6.” Six dollars, I’ll take it! I realized that if I had bought the $99 hair, I would have been hustled. Maybe sales people aren’t as nice as I thought. By the way, I’m in sales myself.

Jen, my hairdresser, recently hired an African American stylist named Sylvia. Jen introduced us, and Sylvia proceeded to sew the hair onto the clips. You have to sew the hair to the clips first. WHO KNEW? I got my hair cut, and we decided to put on the hair. Loyalty has its privileges because Jen cut it to blend into my natural hair, and voila, I had thick hair.

A few days later I got a text from Jen. It said “Sylvia wants to put a weave in your hair; do you want to do it?” I replied, “Hell yeah, for free?” I’m told yes, but I have to buy the hair. Sylvia had never weaved a white woman’s hair, and I was a virgin head.

So I called Sylvia at the salon and had her walk me through the weave buying process. Apparently the saleslady had been trying to coerce me! Once she realized I had a professional on the phone, she backed off, and boy, did the customer service change! Caution to white women: don’t buy hair unless you have a black woman with you.

The day came, and in my head I heard the trumpets blare and the announcement, “Let the weaving begin!” I was so excited!  It didn’t take Sylvia long; boy can she weave! She made tiny braids of my baby fine hair, then sewed five rows (tracks) onto my head. She styled it, and I had long, beautiful, full, luscious hair that could rival Beyonce’s. I was a new person. I looked like me, only hotter.

Sylvia explained how to take care of my new hair, but apparently I didn’t quite understand when I was told to do nothing to my hair. She said, “Don’t forget to sleep in a bonnet.” Black women know this, and they know the products to use, which I didn’t, so a list was made, and back to the store I went.

Days later I gently washed, dried and curled it. This took me hours! The work! My neck and shoulder were aching. It was so long, I couldn’t brush it down my back. Hours later I walked out of my bathroom exhausted and sweaty. The hair was wearing me, and that is never a good thing. I looked like Loretta Lynn ready for the red carpet at the Grand Old Opry.

I quickly learned I had to plan my schedule around my hair weave. It was a pain in the ass! The maintenance — brushing, drying and styling — took hours, and it was heavy! It was hot, and it felt like I was wearing my grandmother’s fox stole from the 1940s on my head.

Here’s where the story gets ugly.  A few days later I washed “the hair” again and proceeded to do what I always do, flip my head upside down and dry it vigorously with a towel. But I tangled the weave so badly that a sailor wouldn’t be able to get the knots out. I poured conditioner on it and tried to comb through it. I pulled pieces apart one by one and tried to separate it strand by strand, but nothing worked. I was ripping and tearing out clumps of hair the size of tumbleweed. My weave lasted one week. ONE!

I broke down, called Sylvia and said, “You have to cut this out of my head.” She replied, “Come on down,” and she cut it out.  The relief! My head felt light; my neck wasn’t sweaty. I was short-hair me again. Do I wish I had long hair? Yes. Would I get another hair weave? Yes, but I would have to have Hollywood money to have someone else maintain it for me.

For now I will clip it on and off when I want to. Simple. That I can maintain.

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