Friday, August 24, 2007

What Did You Do to Your Hair??? Part 2

As so often happens, a long-winded comment positively took on a life of it's own. This is the promised follow-up to my post, What did you do to your hair???

In response to my post about what men think, Goodnapps said that it is not only our men who have to get used to our new hair choices, but also the rest of our friends and family and sometimes even ourselves. That is absolutely true for a lot of people, but not for me.

I have never been able to relax my hair without incident (burns, breakage, etc.), so I have alternated between being natural and relaxed literally all of my life. I did keep going back to the chemicals periodically - thinking like so many of us, "Maybe this time with this new product (or method or stylist) it will be different. (And, of course, it never was.)

I never have really told my complete hair story. I have only alluded to it here and there, so most of you wouldn't know that.

I never had that period of adjustment among my friends and family because I was natural most of the time. Even if I was pressing and curling and it appeared to be relaxed, it usually wasn't.

So, it's always been, "Oh, you're wearing it straight again." or "Oh, you're wearing it natural."

And I've always worn a variety of lengths. So it was, "Oh, you've cut it all off again." And, "Oh, you're growing it out..."

So the only time it has ever been an issue is when I was in a relationship and I started out with one look and switched in the middle.

Thankfully, I come from a family that is supremely supportive of natural hair choices. I am not now nor have I ever been the only one to wear my hair short or natural, so I didn't ever have to explain myself with other styles.

I am the first and only one in my immediate family to start locks of any kind. My brother hasn't said anything and he probably won't. I'm pretty sure he doesn't like them as well as other styles I've worn, but he likes longer hair, so I think he'll appreciate them more once they reach a certain length.

My father has been AWESOME. He has never had a negative comment about ANY STYLE I HAVE EVER WORN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!

There are pictures I look back at and think: What???

But he never had anything bad to say.

It was always understood in my house that the woman is the one who has to style her hair and get out the door in the morning, and sleep on rollers or not, sit in the salon or not, so it is up to her to do what she wants.

I grew up with a sense that choice was not only a matter of what was perceived to be attractive by others, but knowing that it also involved maintenance and convenience and those are important factors, as was being proud of the way God made us and not feeling that we had to alter ourselves in any way to fit in to anyone else's standard of beauty.

My Dad was always like: Whatever. You and your mother are beautiful. Do what makes you happy.

The more I read about others who don't/didn't have that and the more men I have met who don't have that enlightened attitude, the more grateful I am to my father; the more I appreciate him and the way I was raised.

That's why I have had such a hard time dealing with men who don't appreciate natural styles on me and other women, and why I especially appreciated Kaya giving me another way to look at it.

Diva, I'm single now and I was single when I started my locks. I'd toyed with the idea of locking my hair on and off for almost 10 years! But always seemed SO PERMANENT. I liked switching back and forth.

On how my new look would be perceived by potential suitors: When making the decision to lock I have to say I gave it some thought for more than a hot minute.

My fiance loved locks. He liked my straight hair too, but every time I twisted it he would say, 'just don't take them out; let them lock.'

I was not familiar with SLs at the time, and I knew organic locks were not what I wanted and I knew that if I just left my twists in and let them do what came naturally, I would not have a look that pleased me. But it was nice to know that I was in a long-term relationship with a man who not only accepted locks and could get used to them if he had to, but who admired them and encouraged me to start them. I knew that whenever I was ready, he would be 100% supportive.

There was so much security in that knowledge, but I decided to start my locks several months after our relationship ended and I experienced a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty about how locks might hinder my attempts to find a new love.

I said I was single when I started my locks, which isn't entirely accurate.

I was kinda/sorta in a quasi/semi/almost relationship at the time, but it wasn't serious enough that his opinion could have swayed me. (Once I made my decision, my decision was made.) I discussed my decision with him, so he wouldn't be surprised, and because I wanted to know his thoughts, but I was going to do it! He was uncertain about how they would look, but I think he was really just mirroring my own insecurities. (Incidentally, he loved them!)

I just told him about the process, I didn't even show him pictures because I didn't know what they would look like.

I knew I looked at other women's and said: I hope mine look like hers, and it would have been disappointing if they looked totally different.

I didn't want him seeing someone else's and having the same reaction.

I didn't want him to have anything to compare it to. I just wanted him to see mine and love them.

It worked. He did.

But our very fledgling relationship was so 'not set' and barely established, I was pretty sure that it wouldn't stick. So I was pretty certain I would be truly and completely single fairly soon after my SL installation, and I would be lying if I said I didn't think about it long and hard. That is: what will men think?

Will I get less attention? Will I not attract the same type of man that I used to? What will I do if I meet someone who wants me to take them out? (OK, that was an easy one, but I thought about how that WOULD change my perception of him.)

What if an otherwise good man who would otherwise be attracted to me (with straight hair or curly hair) decided not to approach me because I had locks?

As much as I have loved my natural hair for all of these years, there was a lot of comfort in being able to wear it loose and straight or loose and curly.

It was kind of a safety clause.

I find my own attitude strange as I look back on it now. Even though I didn't want to be with anyone who didn't like me with natural hair, I guess I kind of liked having the ability to 'bait and switch.'

**My goodness!!! That sounds so devious and underhanded. I never thought of it that way at the time. **

God! That sounds awful!!

I never wore straight hair specifically to be more appealing to men. I wore straight hair because I wanted to at the time. It's another look I like. But it's true that even men who thought they wouldn't like my natural hair, and said they wouldn't have approached me with twists or a 'fro, actually did like it once I changed it back.

And all complaints always centered around length. It was never the actual style they didn't like, but y'all know...natural hair shrinks. I think it's safe to say that it is a fact that most men like longer hair, not even most AA men. MOST men.

In any case, in spite of all of my former doubts, fears, and misgivings of any sort, I have to say that I am completely happy with my decision to lock. Sisterlocks are one of the best investments I have ever made and one of the best gifts I have ever given myself.

I have absolutely no regrets!


muslimahlocs said...

the reaction from my family was mixed. most of the older womenfolks did not understand how i could go and mess up all of that "good hair" that i had by putting "those things" in my hair. the men either did not care or just did not opine. the young folks thought that they looked cute on me but could never see themselves with locks.

fast forward to the present and there are now 50% of the girls in my generation who are locked. i am trying not to give up on the rest but their resistance is strong despite all of the spam that i send to them about the dangers of chemically processed hair.

we only have one in the next generation whose mother (one of the resisters) is still straightening her hair "for special occasions" (don't make me curse, what is so special about straightening her hair and what lessons are being taught by straightening for big events only, i digress...).

i have had lengthy conversations with all of my male relatives in my generation and they have all promised that that they will not allow their wives (present or future) to alter their daughter's hair (when and if they have any). we'll see what happens.

the newest person with locks in my family is 11 yo. now she asked for them at 10. she got hers and then her mother finally got her own (and the children shall lead them, right!). her grandmother and great-grandmother CRIED. yes, cried and told her that they did not like her hair. they still don't like them but are glad that they are starting to grow longer. she is a strong little girl though...she respectfully told them that " don't have to like my hair b/c i do and so does my mom, and my dad, and my cousin muslimahlocs, and..." all of the other girls have only had braids or locks and we intend to keep it that way. maybe by the next generation we can be 100% natural as a family!

Anonymous said...

Amen Sista!!!! Sisterlocks are definitely a wonderful gift!!!

My boyfriend knew I would lock my hair before I did, which made the whole process easier. He actually wanted me to get traditional locks but I preferred the thinner locks. After my install he thought I looked crazy, you know the plucked chicken look? But he got over that real quick when my roots started growing in. Every once in a while he'll look at me and say "My baby has locks!" with pride and I couldn't ask for a better beau. Now if I can just get him away from those dern video games!!LOL!!!

I don't have the type of hair that will straighten easily, I swear I have the tightest curled (nappiest) hair than anyone I know. Perms never took well cause I would sweat most of them out. Why is it I would see all this new growth but my hair kept getting trimmed? Therefore my hair never seemed to grow. Thank goodness for Sisterlocks!

I also believe the person who finds you will love you for you. I know many guys who like longer hair but most would choose a woman with a natural/permed short do then one wearing long weave. Your locks are a nice length right now and more growth is right around the corner so you have nothing to worry about.

Besides....a pretty face is a pretty face...

Naturally Sophia said...

I still get mixed reactions. My mom loathes my hair and dad loves it. Most of my family thinks they are braids.Many women in my family have natural hair.

Meikmeika- "I also believe the person who finds you will love you for you." Ditto!

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