Sunday, February 18, 2007

How do I get there from here?

It has been such a busy two weeks for me! Like everybody else, I'm going through job changes, relationship changes, body changes, you name it! And in the midst of it all I am trying to make some decisions about what to do with my hair!

I made an appointment to get my Sisterlocks installed at the end of this month. Once I made my decision, I found it was impossible for me to go back to straight hair. This is a style I get by applying leave-in conditioner (Infusium 23) and simply twisting sections of my hair from root to tip. Its natural kink/curl keeps it from unraveling! I love my hair texture!

Oops! Some of the fuzzies are making an appearance!

As much as my little coils resemble new locks, you can see how easily they untwist into loose waves.

I liked my consultant immediately. We spoke on the phone for over an hour before I met her in person for my actual consultation and test locks. I sensed that she was a calm and wise spirit and that she took her responsibility as guide on this journey very seriously. I called her on Monday Jan. 29 and my consult was the following Friday. I was on my way to my regular stylist to get my press and curl, but I wanted her to see what it was like in it's near-natural state (after a blowout).

I tend to run late for things. Ideally I wanted her to see it in it's most natural state after a wash and towel-dry, but I didn't have time to re-wet it and blow dry it before my other appointment.

I don't know what anyone else's hair is like, so I really have no frame of reference, but my hair changes significantly depending on how I treat it. When I pamper and coddle it (i.e. very little heat, hot oil treatments, leave-in conditioners, moisturizing shampoo) it loves me. Loves me! It is soft and smooth and shiny and silky. I must brush it ever so tenderly and comb it ever so gently. If I get impatient and hurry, I'm met with knots and tangles. Actual teeny tiny knots made from one strand of hair that wrapped around itself and there is nothing for it but to cut that knot out because the curling iron or the flat iron will singe it off anyway.

When it is wet from the wash I have kink that won't quit! But if I braid it wet, I have adorable soft waves and crinkles that fade into adorable ringlets on the ends. But when I put heat to it, even from a dryer, it's like I summon the warrior roots. It decides to rise up and fight. To prove that it is strong. I have lost track of how many blow dryer comb attachments I broke. There were a few brands I tried that lost anywhere from 3 - 5 teeth at each drying session (skirmish). So my hair takes on this soldier stance, where I feel like it's going to yank the comb out of my hand and smack me with it. Then, when the drying is done, I soothe and pacify it with a light oil that I apply with loving hands and a soft brush. At that point I am ready for the salon.

I leave my house looking like Miss Diana from back in the day. Y'all remember that stacked 'fro she wore parted down the middle that was just big and fluffy and out to there? Wish I had a picture. Oh wait! I do...I was just reluctant to post it because it is extremely unflattering!

And my stylist (I love her!) is a miracle worker. She flat irons it with such skill that you would never know I was all-natural. And I have to say I feel no small amount of ambivalence about that.

I am ambivalent about having natural hair and wearing it in a style that so closely resembles relaxed hair. Sometimes I feel like my hair should always be textured and kinky, so that everyone knows at first glance that I am a natural sister. Other times I like being able to show people that our hair can be chemical-free and still look straight and bouncy and shiny and not-nappy. In fact, my hair always had more body and bounce when the life wasn't stripped from it by chemical processes. And I loved telling people about it. My hair always stayed shiny whenever I straightened it. You can even see some of the shine in the coiled pictures at the top of this post. People always asked me what products I used to get that shine. Honestly...I never had to load it down with oil or grease to get it to shine. It is just that healthy...because I haven't used a relaxer in over 6 years.

We will never see a time when everyone abandons relaxers and weaves and extensions, but a lot of people are scared to go natural because they think that their only options are locks and twists and TWAs...and they aren't ready, but they would stop using chemicals if they believed they could continue to wear straight styles and have the option of wearing it curly sometimes. I liked being an example of the versatility of chemical-free hair. And I am going to miss that.

I've always enjoyed being able to move between the worlds. I can rock the 'fro when I choose. Or the 2-strand twists. Or cornrows. Or coils. Or curls....Or totally bone-straight hair. I never thought one was superior to the other. It usually depends on what I'm doing that day or that week. Am I going to the beach? Will I be dancing late into the night at a house party? Will I be at the office for the next couple of days? Giving a presentation to a conservative client?

So...I am also ambivalent about leaving that particular brand of versatility behind. That's why I always say that I am going to try Sisterlocks. I am not sure I will want them for life. I may very well decide that in 5 years or 10 that I will cut them off and start anew.

I am currently wearing my hair straightened (in the layered flip pictured above) and it is 7 - 10 inches long, so when I decided to get sisterlocks I knew it would not be cheap. She quoted me a very fair price, but I just didn't have it, which was alright because I needed the time to come to terms with what I am giving up. One definition of sacrifice I keep in my head is this: the act of giving up something of value to acquire something of greater value.

I feel like I will be sacrificing a lot of my stlying versatility - especially at the very beginning - but I am going to do it, because ultimately I believe I will be happier overall.

I have to be honest and say that I was intimidated by the Sisterlocks Motto, "It's not a hairstlye, it's a lifestyle!" I thought: what am I getting myself into? Is it that serious? What kind of commitment is required? Natural hair requires quite a commitment in and of itself. Since I have worn natural hair for so long, am I more prepared or less prepared for Sisterlocks? I do not yet know the answers to those questions.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


It has always struck me as completely absurd how much time and money we spend removing the curl from our hair only to put it back in.

I am not unlike Zayunu. My hair grows like weeds and when I'm cutting it, I have to be at that all the time! Short hair is really too high maintenance for me. As much as I always loved the look, I was forever growing out of whatever style I had chosen.

Her hair looks like my mother's did. How many times did I wish I had inherited that set of problems? But I know and you know that if that was the hair I'd always had on my head and known nothing else, I'd have grown up hating things about it and wishing it had characteristics of other people's hair. That's just how we are as humans.

And we all know it's tough to get much sympathy about our hair growing too fast. No one ever sheds a tear for you when you complain about your hair being too fine or too soft or too curly either.

I love wearing my hair curly too, but when I do, I have to wet it every day and it takes lots of time and loads of product to get and keep the look. Then it's still incredibly unpredictable at that. Will it frizz? Puff? Pouf? 'Fro? Don't get me wrong - I would sport the cute 'fro any time, but my hair seems determined to pay homage to Mr. Frederick Douglass. And I am not ever feeling that look any day of any week.

How natural is it if I have to spend hours of styling time and apply gobs of product to achieve and maintain the look? Chemical-free? Yes. Carefree? No.

I don't expect that SLs or other types of locks are maintenance-free, but from the research I have conducted thus far, I am pretty certain that I will spend less time on my hair daily and weekly and that I will be able to style it without such heavy reliance on products...I am decidedly not a product junkie and I am looking forward to that.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Locked Hair Blog Exchange

So today I just discovered the LHBE. Until now, I have been following links from the blogs of other sisters with locks. Thanks to Maryee for putting that together! It is an excellent resource for people like me who are trying to get information. When I visit some of the chat rooms and message boards dedicated to natural and locked hair, I do get overwhelmed by sheer amount of information! (And dissension among the ranks.) I like how Maryee has specifically asked everyone to keep it positive.

I don't have time to blog more about my hair journey because I have spent all of my allotted Internet time reading other blogs, but I will update, as promised, the first chance I get.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

My Introduction

My sisters with natural hair, I am reaching out to you for encouragement. I have been reading your blogs for a week now. Obsessively, really. I am contemplating Sisterlocks and I discovered your circle while looking for pictures. I have learned so much from you all. I will tell my complete hairstory eventually , but for now I just wanted to start this blog.

Everyone tells their story looking back from the day or the week or the month they started locking their hair. Or perhaps with the confidence and experience (and objectivity) of years. Maybe her story is out there and I have not found it yet, I am reluctant to believe that I am the first, but I am looking for the sister who's story starts before she got her locks done when she was still as uncertain as I am now. When she still could turn back.

I have seen many posted replies and inquiries from those who have not yet committed, but every blog I have encountered until now has begun after she started on her journey towards locked hair.

I know that I want to try Sisterlocks, but I am afraid of a lot of things that I will talk about later. I have a lot of uncertainty and apprehension, but I know that I will get them done because I also have a lot of curiosity. And my curiosity is beginning to be greater and stronger than my apprehension. Perhaps some of you understand this? Perhaps some of you remember what this felt like.

I feel comfortable in this space, saying that I am uncertain and afraid because I have seen how nurturing you are to each other. And I'll say it: I know I am an interloper, but I want some of the love. There seems to be plenty to go around. And I know I have a lot to give, so, I would like to be a part of your group.

Just so you know a little about me up front, I am a natural, free-spirited, artistic type. I did the big chop 10 years ago when I realized at the age of 19 that I was completely out of touch with my natural hair texture. I honestly did not know what kind of hair grew on my head. Like so many of us, I was only acquainted with the new growth that was "resistant" and "unruly."

In the years since, I have learned to love my hair and respect it, to work with it and not against it, and I must say, it has treated me well. It is strong and beautiful and healthy and versatile. I get compliments on it all the time, whether I am wearing it braided or free or two-strand twisted or flat-ironed and flipped.

The first chance I get, I will post pics and an explanation of why I want Sisterlocks and what I am afraid of, but for now I wanted to introduce myself, because I will need a little hand-holding and encouragement. I know I want to lock my hair. I know in my heart that I want to. I have a deep longing to join the revolution. I have had that longing for years, but certain things have held me back. Things that I am sure you all can identify with. I am sure because I have read so many of your words that could have been my own.

There are a lot of people with locks who have strong opinions on how one with locks should carry oneself, and how we should speak of our decision. There is an unspoken rule that you should never express doubt or dismay. You should never want what you don't have (be it different length or different texture or different reaction to the criticism and prejudice you are bound to encounter somewhere along the way). And sometimes the confidence and self-righteousness are alienating. I would like to join your group because I have seen how non-judgmental you all are. You are not afraid to say: "I don't like my hair today." Or, "I wish it looked like hers."

You don't see those statements as signs of low self-esteem or as betrayal to the cause. I like that and I need that as I find my way. So, please, welcome me into the fold.



5/30/07 - This post was originally addressed to the ladies in DFW because I was simply amazed at the support and affirmation they gave each other. I loved reading how they planned events and gatherings. I noticed there were a few others in different geographical locations; there were Leighann and Brunsli and CloudNine to name a few. At the time I had no idea about the LHBE or the many other bloggers I found by reading posted comments.

It has been a wonderful experience for me to discover so many intelligent, creative, beautiful black women who are connected - even though most of us have not met - through this common experience of deciding to lock our hair.