The subject of children wearing extensions and weaves has been hotly debated in recent years. Some say there's nothing wrong with it and argue that these hairstyles can actually be good for children's hair. Others contest that they can damage children's hair, with some going as far as to say it's irresponsible parenting. Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian are among the celebrity parents who have been questioned for giving hair extensions to their children Zahara Jolie-Pitt and North West respectively.
So which of these views is correct and what are the arguments for and against?
From the comments seen on social media and various blog posts popping up, it seems that the argument is two fold. The first element being whether the use of extensions may be detrimental to the health of the
child’s hair and the second about whether these hairstyles are age appropriate. So let’s discuss both…
Health of hair
Like with any protective styling, there are benefits to wearing one’s hair in weaves and extensions, such as saving time, protecting one’s hair from the elements and avoiding over manipulation which can lead to breakage. Equally, if executed incorrectly, weaves and extensions can damage anyone’s hair, not just that of children. However, it will come as no surprise that children’s hair is more fragile and their scalp (and skin in general) is more sensitive than that of an adult and more easily damaged from heavy or overly tight hairstyles.
Hairstyles such as sew-in weaves and crochet braids are amongst the biggest offenders as hair can often be sewn or crocheted in too tightly, leading to excess tension and pulling on the hairline especially. This is exacerbated by the fact that children are less able to judge when hair is too tight and may not feel comfortable speaking up to parents and hairdressers when they are in pain. Moreover, damage done to the hair and scalp as a child can have lasting effects that continue into adult life.
Children seem to be growing up way to quickly in 2016 – From what they wear to early use of makeup and dating from as early as their pre-teens. So is use of hair extension contributing to the problem or can hairstyles which include extensions or weave be age appropriate for children?
The general consensus seems to be “it depends”. There are different ways to incorporate extensions into hairstyles and some seem to be more controversial than others when worn by children.
This seems to be the biggest no-no from the general community, and parents who decide to give their children weaves have come under much scrutiny, receiving mostly negative attention. Weaves are typically associated with adults, with most women asked having had their first weave experience in their late teens or early twenties.
This age is now getting younger and younger, with sew-in weaves now common place in many high schools and becoming more popular in primary schools.
Another issue some have sited, specifically in relation to children wearing weaves is the psychological impact. The majority of these weaves are long and straight and do not resemble the child’s natural hair texture. Some argue that this can have a similar effect to relaxing a child’s hair and teach the child that straight/more European texture hair is best rather than encouraging the child to love their natural hair.
Braids, twists and crochet braids
Many of us, especially those coming from African homes would have experiences of using extensions as a child from as early as three years old. These would usually be in the form of braids or twists. Crochet braids are still fairly new in relative terms.
Opinion seems to be split on whether these styles are age appropriate and the a wide variety of ways these styles can be worn dictate how we feel about them.
The consensus seems to be that where the style is basic and not overly long or dramatic, people are quite happy that they can be age appropriate.
The problem seems to arise where the extensions are very bold and/or impractical for the life of a child (e.g. running around, getting messy, going to school, etc.).
It’s clear that we all want our kids to look like kids and to have healthy, undamaged hair but evidently, it’s not a clear-cut debate. What are you views on children wearing extensions and weaves? Do you think it’s ok or agree that it is irresponsible? Comment below and lets us know what you think!