Let’s Talk Wigs: How This New Style Go-To has Crossed Racial Barriers

Last updated on: 2019


Everyone loves a good story about a misunderstood hero, right? Well, that’s wigs for you. The idea of synthetic hairpieces has gone in and out of vogue for centuries, and now, thanks to some very A-list, public endorsements, wigs are cool again; and they’re everywhere.

Far from just a frivolous style accessory, wigs actually have strong cultural roots. They have gone from being a signifier of wealth and status (think Marie Antoinette), to being marginalized as a style staple of the black community, to being on the forefront of fashion once again.

If you’re just catching the wig wave, you might not think of them as being primarily a culturally-specific beauty item. Even though celebrities like Beyonce, Rihanna and Kerry Washington have been rocking them for ages – and looking amazing while doing it – today you’re just as likely to find celebrities, influencers and fashionistas of every race and cultural background wearing them. But that wasn’t always the case.

Crossing Racial Barriers

In more recent time periods, hair enhancements were primarily affiliated with the black community, a group that switched up wigs, weaves and hair extensions on the regular. Not only did the mainstream style community consider them to be culture-specific, but women – especially black women – were often judged for wearing wigs. Inexplicably, it was somehow seen as inauthentic or tacky to wear anything other than your natural hair, regardless of the condition.

As if racial stigma wasn’t enough, wigs were also considered primarily an accessory for women suffering from hair loss, which had its own breed of shame and anxiety surrounding it. Between these two factors, wigs got a bad rap, and it took decades to shake that.

Slowly, other cultures have begun to embrace the idea of wigs and extensions, and because of this, they have become much more mainstream. In fact, far from worrying about judgement, it’s now become the mark of a style-savvy woman to admit to wearing hair enhancements, especially if they’re designer-made.

Who Is Wearing Them Now?

Kylie Jenner made waves not too long ago when she not only stepped out in a variety of wigs (um … remember those beachy, candy-blue locks?) but unapologetically name-dropped her wig stylist, Tokyo Stylez. Following that, more than one A-lister “came out” as a wig enthusiast, including Ariana Grande, Zendaya and Gigi Hadid. Like most things, after being endorsed by celebrities, wigs have trickled down into the mainstream, where they have been embraced by anyone and everyone. It’s not only totally acceptable to swap out your natural locks for a pastel updo or a voluminous head of ebony ringlets now, but it’s actually more common than you may realize.

Those influencers posing poolside with enviable beach waves are not just rocking extensions, but they’re tagging their extension stylist. Spend a Saturday night club hopping or a weekend at a music festival and you’re more than likely to see women with what seems like impossibly gorgeous hair, and, if you ask them, they’ll probably tell you exactly which wig suppliers they frequent.

A Wig for Every Head

Not only have wigs moved into more popular territory, but they’re also being designed much more inclusively than they ever were. A quality, high-end wig supplier knows that wigs are a perfect opportunity for people to play with different cuts, textures and shades and will reflect that in their supply.

People are starting to see wigs almost like a type of clothing. They’re easy to switch up and are a great to way to experiment with different looks, all without making a commitment or damaging your own hair. If you’re a black woman and you want to experiment with sleek and dazzling platinum locks for a night out, it’s as easy as finding the right wig. If you have fine hair and want to see what you’d look like with uber-volume and some glam waves, gone are the days when you might have to torture your own hair with a teasing comb or hot rollers.

The popularity of wigs means it’s easier than ever to find exactly what you’re searching for, regardless of your style. Whether you want something for day-to-day wear or something bold for certain occasions, whether you have fine hair, thick hair – or no hair at all – there’s a wig to match and no shame in wearing one.

Now that hair enhancements are moving away from their marginalized roots, a whole new world is opening for people. Something that was wrongly associated with shame, lack of authenticity or excess vanity is now being seen as exactly what it is: a fun, stylish and artful accessory that can be enjoyed by anyone.

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Akosua Asare
Akosua Asare is the CEO and Founder of Essence Luxe Couture, a Canadian company that prides themselves in their handmade wigs and lashes. Learn more about Essence Luxe Couture at essenceluxecouture.com.