The Historical past Of Wigs Is Rooted In Tradition, Expression, and Identification


byrdie senior social editor star donaldson poses for a photo wearing a wig for crowned

Wigs are one of the vital versatile magnificence instruments. Whereas they’re fashionable immediately within the type of sew-ins, closures, U-parts, lace fronts—and extra—wigs go approach again and have a wealthy historical past relationship again to Historic Egypt. Within the latest episode of Topped,  Star Donaldson, Byrdie’s senior social media editor, explores the historical past behind wigs and why it is essential to know. Learn extra, forward.

The Historical past

In accordance with Byrdie’s workforce of researchers, Egyptians have been among the first folks recorded carrying wigs in 2700 BCE. Wigs served many functions in Historic Egyptian instances, together with defending naked scalps from sunburn. On the time, wigs have been made principally of palm leaf fibers, wool, and human hair in some instances. “Wigs have been a logo of rank, social standing, and faith,” Donaldson says. Egyptians introduced wigs to Europe, the place items made utterly from false hair grew to become fashionable. Till the Nineteen Fifties, wigs have been primarily handmade, till machines developed in Hong Kong made mass-produced hairpieces extra accessible.


Stateside, the historical past of wigs is extra advanced. In the US, wigs have a stigmatized historical past due to their connection to growing older and medical circumstances. Nonetheless, wigs play an essential position within the lives of those that could wrestle with hair shedding or loss on account of medical therapy or circumstances. Black folks and the queer group have additionally popularized wigs, making them a cultural and gender expression device, hair safety technique, and—general–a enjoyable accent. Within the early Nineteen Fifties and 60s, performers used wigs for artistic expressions as a part of their stage seems to be (assume: the Surpremes and the Ronettes). Black queer folks additionally wore wigs and clothes at drag balls and different gatherings as a type of expression.

Hair sourcing for wigs has additionally been a controversial a part of the enterprise, with many individuals worldwide—from nations like China, Peru, India, and extra—being compromised financially and bodily to supply supplies for the hair commerce.

The Set up

There are various methods to put in a wig, and methods have developed. You possibly can slip a wig over your head (often lined with a wig cap). Many models include comb clips to safe the piece to your head in case you have braids or a bun beneath your wig. Alternatively, stitching on a wig can also be used for a longer-lasting model. Lace entrance wigs are additionally fashionable because of their natural-looking look, and so they’re often glued alongside the hairline for a seamlessly blended look. Headband wigs have been making their rounds on social media and are a superb possibility whenever you’re in a pinch for time.

The Significance

Right now, wigs can serve many functions. You possibly can tuck your pure hair away and put on a wig on prime to keep away from manipulating your strands. Partial wigs can add size and quantity to sections of your hair. After all, wigs are additionally an effective way to check totally different seems to be with out dedication: You possibly can have a pink bob immediately and a blue pixie minimize tomorrow. The chances are limitless.

Whereas wigs are thought-about a protecting model, it is important to notice wigs are usually not categorized as a pure coiffure as a lot of them do not replicate afro hair textures. Many straight-styled wigs are available on the market, however manufacturers like Warmth Free Hair, Massive Chop Hair, and Her Given Hair prioritize pure hair textures of their wig models. Traditionally, Black folks have needed to manipulate their pure hair textures to adapt and survive in a racist, anti-Black society. Some could argue that wigs could be thought-about a response to anti-Blackness, as a option to conceal or keep away from afro hair.

Nonetheless, there’s been a large shift on the planet of wigs and it is presently a billion-dollar market. In accordance with analysis, the worldwide wigs and hair extension market is predicted to succeed in 13.3 billion {dollars} by 2026.3 Superstar stylists like Kim Kimble (who did hair for B.A.P.S.), Conceited Tae, Tokyo Stylez, and plenty of extra, have additionally confirmed that wig styling is an artwork kind with their creative hair designs.

The Backside Line

Like most traditionally Black hairstyles, the lineage of wigs paints an image of a mode that was made for survival and preservation, which stays true for some folks. Nonetheless, they illustrate the nuance of Black hair because it continues to evolve over time. Now, wigs characterize no matter you need: Whether or not you are testing out a brand new look, standing agency in your identification, taking a break from styling, or simply figuring issues out, the selection and motive for carrying a wig is completely yours.

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