Thursday, November 29, 2007

Still in love...8 months

Today I celebrate my 8 month anniversary.

Wow!...right? Time does fly. Still loving my locks and not a single regret.

I haven't noticed m(any) changes in the last month. Length, texture, density - all seem to be about the same, which is okay. I'm trying to develop the mindset where I don't really expect anything to be noticeably different between now and my one year anniversary.

What has changed noticeably is my attitude about my locks. They are less of a novelty to me. I do still play with them a lot, fingering them in idle moments, but I spend a lot less time in the mirror checking for changes. I also spend a lot less time thinking about my hair in I will wear it, whether it looks good.

I still freestyle 98% of the time. I shake it out when I wake up in the morning. I put it up in a ponytail when I exercise, and I check to make sure no stray pieces are sticking up when I pass my reflection and that's about it. Otherwise I don't think about it unless someone asks me a question or gives me a compliment...which is happening more and more often.

In a little more than a week I will attend my very first Sisterlocks gathering hosted by Blessed Gem Lady in Charlotte. I am really looking forward to meeting with other sisters with locks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Interesting Opinion

Check out this op-ed on Sean Taylor's death and tell me what y'all think.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Recommended Reading

My regular readers know that I like to pass on links and articles that were of interest to me.

Periodically I Google Sisterlocks to see what comes up. I found a link to this article which is actually over two years old, but I think it gives a fairly good description of what Sisterlocks are and how they're done (for the curious). It also gives a glimpse of the reasons some decide to get Sisterlocks.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Sisterlocks Status

Questions and debates about cost and brand-identity and the associated status continue to be a recurring theme with Sisterlocks. Before I got mine, I never knew this would be so. And if I were not such an avid reader of blogs, I would still be blissfully ignorant. Today I read this post and comments on Mel's blog.

I have recopied my own comments here:

Personally, I'm not overly concerned with the brand and status that is associated with Sisterlocks (as in: I want people to know that I cared enough to pay the big bucks for the installation) because the opinions go both ways on that. Some people applaud my choice and understand it. Others think it was a ridiculous waste when I could have used some other tool and done it myself or gone to the lady around the corner with a latch hook.

But I always tell people that I have SLs because I want to educate them about the method. I think they are unique and I am grateful to Dr. Cornwell for coming up with them and I think it is an amazing story!

I loved reading about her trial and error and how she developed the method. I mean, the whole 'backwards braid'/root-to-tip thing in and of itself is quite a concept! And so are the smaller more stylable locks. Whether they admit it or not, a lot of other methods out there HAVE borrowed from her genius. People can ACT like everyone was doing this all along and she didn't come up with anything new.

But she did. She really, really did! And she shared it with others. Ok, she did it for a price, but can we blame her for that? I don't think so. That's how we do things in America.

I get frequent compliments on my dreads or twists and twice as many questions about them, at which point I briefly explain the Sisterlocks difference. I ALWAYS encourage people to go online and do research. I direct people to the official site and my blog and the LHBE, so they can see how SLs are different from other types of locks and make an informed decision for themselves.

For a lot of people it does come down to cost and that is the reason they choose other methods. Others are die-hard DIYers and can't imagine paying someone else to do something they know they CAN do themselves. Some people decide that they want larger traditionals.

Even though I recently learned to retighten myself using the nappylocs tool, I will continue to go to my consultant (who uses nothing but the SL tool) for the foreseeable future. And if we should ever part ways, I intend to search out another consultant so that I will not be stuck with always having to do it myself.

So mine are still trademarked SLs, but yes, I agree that they still would be even if I never used the tool again or saw an approved consultant because that's what I got at installation. I paid for the parts and got the approved sizing and I have the pattern.

I got locked with about 10 inches of hair and have had exclusive SL maintenance done on at least another 4. There's no WAY anyone can tell me these aren't REAL SLs on my head.

Here's my question: why should it matter to anyone else how I maintain my locks?

If they look nice and neat it doesn't take anything away from the brand or the image. If I paid for an SL installation, it isn't a lie. It's not like passing off moissonite or CZ for diamonds.

I CAN understand the concerns about someone who wasn't officially trained and didn't pay for the class (or who never uses the tool and super-secret method and patterns) selling their services under the SL name like Muslimahlocs mentioned. That smacks of dishonesty and false advertising.

But on the self-maintenance front, I don't think it should matter at all!

I also visited Maryee's blog today and enjoyed her insightful post on the cost of Sisterlocks.

So What Do You Think?

This post is 0% about my hair, but it is about locks.

You wouldn't know this about me because I've never posted this info, but I love movies! Good movies, bad movies....epic films and awful TV movies that show up on Sci-Fi...Classics with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford...quirky comedy/love story/fantasy movies like The Princess Bride....Cartoons, excuse me, animated features. My tastes are really all over the place!

Anyway, I am a regular visitor to IMDB. I love that site!

How many times do you find yourself looking at a movie and wondering what else you've seen a lesser known actor or actress in? You wrack your brain trying to recall, right?

Well, no more. Simply visit IMDB: type in the movie you've just seen them in, or their name if you know it, and you can get a list of every movie they've ever been credited in. It's awesome!

The site also has trailers of past and upcoming movies, reviews, gossip, message boards -everything movies!

So I was on the site just minutes ago and I saw a trailer for a movie called 10,000 B.C. that is scheduled to be released in March. If you watch the trailer, you'll see that quite a few of the characters seem to be dreadlocked. And they are the long, thick, I've-never-combed-my-hair-in-my-life dreadlocks.

Now, if you've followed my blog and read comments I've left on others, you'll know that I am the first to say I think there need to be more locks in the media....and I appreciate when directors and costume designers have a vision for a film that includes locks as a symbol of power or freedom or strength or individuality. Sometimes actors and actresses decide that locks will represent their character better than other hair styles. And that's all good.

However, sometimes (often) locks are used to represent people who are on the fringes of society - dirty or homeless or drug-addicted. Wayward or rebellious or some other bad influence. And this is not good.

I haven't seen the movie. My guess is that the trailer I saw is less than 60 seconds long, so, I can't pass final judgment on it, but, from what I've seen the locks seem to represent caveman grunge and savagery, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Opinions, please.

Friday, November 16, 2007

On Sisterlocks Affirmation

Thanks to all for your lovely compliments on my retightening efforts.

I was pretty proud of myself, but I know the challenge spots I had and I couldn't really see the back that well to examine my work once I'd finished. I wasn't sure how well I had preserved my parts because I did it completely by feel and didn't use clips at all. But today I went to my consultant for her to check my work and for her to finish up the area where my hair grows thickest and my locks are smallest. I didn't want to ruin that area just in case I was going about it wrong because it would have been hell to fix!

She went through it all and told me I'd done an excellent job - as well as anyone who's taken the class! Yay!

That made me feel really good.

Funny, though, the novelty has already worn off and I am perfectly happy to continue visiting her for retites for the foreseeable future. Like I have said before: I like the pampering. I enjoy her company. She lives nearby and her prices are reasonable! Why ever wouldn't I?

I will self-tighten areas that need touch-ups between scheduled appointments and I expect that this will actually shave time off my visits, cutting them down to 45 minutes to an hour.

It's not about the money or the time spent, but it's kind of nice knowing I can cut both in half.

I always end up staying at her house for another hour or so after she finishes my hair anyway, so that won't be much different.

I also had my Sisterlocks identified earlier in the week. So many people still don't know what they are that it always excites me when someone does. I had just placed my order at Panera Bread when the locked sister behind the counter with beautiful shoulder-length traditionals said to me: "Your sisterlocks are gorgeous, who does them?"

We went on to talk for the next 20 minutes. (It's a good thing I'd ordered cold food and business was slow!) She said that she'd wanted SLs when she started hers 4 years ago, but couldn't find a consultant nearby. We even swapped info about my lock maintenance vs. hers. Her loctitian charged more than twice what my consultant charges once her locks got length!....At which time she went the DIY route.

She says she contemplates converting to SLs from time to time, but can't yet bring herself to part with her length and start over. In any case it was nice to meet someone who knew I had Sisterlocks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On Wanting More Length

Recently Helga wrote that she wanted more length, a common lament among those of us with locks, no matter what length we started with - from short to medium to shoulder length and beyond.

Helga mentioned an "overfocus on growing long hair that some Black women can be obsessed with," an indirect quote from one of her sisters. And I hear (and read) many comments to that effect from women with locks as well.

Many people say that when you decide to lock it should be for other reasons. Why? Who says? Isn't it an individual choice? Does it matter? I think we should show ourselves and others that black women can achieve great lengths with their natural hair. If that is someone's primary reason for locking, so be it. Is anything lost?

I want longer hair too! - YESTERDAY - And I am not ashamed to say so! And you know what else?

White girls and Latinas obsess about their hair length and thickness too. A lot of them wear extensions and hairpieces also. And they don't feel ashamed. A lot of them battle curls and frizz every day, so it isn't just us.

Do we have more of a struggle and more dissatisfaction and more outside influences that tell us our natural hair isn't good enough? I do believe so, but I also think the gulf is not as wide as some people imagine. (In terms of the numbers of individuals who do not like the hair they were born with. I mean, really, the entire beauty industry is built on making us - women of all races - dissatisfied with our natural selves - add to that cultural influences and stereotypes and community expectations, and well, you see where I'm going with this argument...)

Wanting longer hair isn't the only reason I decided to lock or the main reason. I wanted healthier hair and greater freedom and more options, and to that end I have been EXTREMELY satisfied with my locks from day one.

But wanting longer hair is one reason I decided to start locks. And I believe it is a valid reason and we should not feel bad about it. Why shouldn't AA women have hair down our backs that WE GREW if we want it?

P.S.: Helga, and whichever sister made the comment, please rest assured that I did not misunderstand your statements or take them out of context, it just gave me an opportunity to 'speak' on something that had been on my mind for months. I hope you don't mind....

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

On Doing it Myself - Part 2

My nappylocs tools came on Friday and I started on Saturday. I ordered two in case I lost one, but it was a good idea because some of my locks are smaller than others, so I pinched one tool with pliers to work with the smaller locks and left the other one original size. It was not my initial intention to tighten my whole head, but once I started, it was kind of addictive. It almost couldn't be easier. I really do like the tool. It is a breeze to use.

I was able to tighten up all of my locks that were threatening to slip out and I even started two new ones! I have hair that crawls something awful, so at first it was quite a challenge not to marry locks, and I did form at least a dozen unholy unions, but with practice I began to get a feel for whether I had caught stray hairs from adjoining locks before I pulled the lock I was trying to tighten all the way through. When that was the case, I would simply pull the lock and snagged hairs back out and start over fresh.

There were several I didn't catch in time, but since I had snagged only a few hairs (it was never more than 10 strands), I kept a seam ripper (yes, for sewing) nearby. I'm not saying I recommend that anyone else do this, but I just cut the stray hairs. The seam ripper is smaller and more precise than scissors, and I found out by trial and error that there is no good way to untangle locks that you can't see. (I actually had a casualty...and that is a post unto itself.)

I have so much more respect for my consultant now. (Which is amazing because I already had a tremendous amount of respect for her skill and expertise.) My hair in the back is really hard to work with. I shouldn't say that. That's not what I mean. It's softer and finer than I realized and actually quite prone to slipping while the lock is being tightened. Once it's in, it's in, but you kind of have to wrestle it in, and you can't really strong arm it because it is fine and the locks are small, so you kind of have to finesse it.

And she's always made it seem so easy.

It was quite challenging. I started at the back too because for some reason I thought it would be simpler than the top. Now I don't even know why. I think I intended to do only the back because it grows faster and I did want to leave something for my consultant to do at my next appointment, but then once I started it was fun, so I kept going.

It was a very challenging project, but it was an intriguing challenge and I felt like I was learning and getting better at it as I went along.

It was a really interesting experience. Although I loved my loose natural hair, I've felt more in tune with it since I started locking. And I feel differently about it again now that I can and have tightened it myself. I feel even more in touch with my roots...literally, tangibly.

When I gave up the relaxer I learned new things about my hair texture. I gained new appreciation for it's softness and strength. And when I started locking, it was the same way. I discovered new characteristics. I thought that now I knew all there was to know about how it feels and behaves, but alas, no. As I retightened I discovered new things about it yet again.

I'm still going to my consultant in about a week so she can look over my work, and I have a few locks that need repair.

I didn't know what to expect of self-tightening. I still don't know what this will mean for me in the long-term. It is relatively easy, so I have no longer have any anxiety about what might happen if Phyllis moves away or there ever comes a time when retightenings become a luxury that I cannot afford. And that is priceless freedom.

I still like the idea of having someone else do it, but as I suspected I might, I really like doing it myself. I have my hands in my hair all the time anyway. I love the texture and I enjoy monitoring the growth and changes. Now that I can retighten, I get to have my hands in my hair for a purpose, and I like that. It isn't just idle fondling. Combine that with my love of handicrafts and my obsession for neatness (and the fact that I like the feel of freshly tightened hair) and I may be doing it myself from here on out.

It is so different from doing twists or braids or straightening myself because it doesn't have to be done all in one day. I worked on it a little every day until now, and truth be told, I am still not completely finished, but it doesn't matter. No one can tell but me. It isn't the same kind of chore as other types of self-maintenance because it can be done a little at a time. I can tighten 5 locks or 25 locks or 50 locks.

There were times when my arms got tired and my fingers cramped, and I simply stopped for the day. I stopped and didn't have to start again until I wanted. I like knowing that if one or two feels looser than I like, I can just reach right up and do something about it on the spot. I like not feeling like I should wait until my next appointment. Some of my hair grows really fast and can be tightened at three weeks, but some of it doesn't need it for 6, so I've been holding out for 5 weeks to make it worth our while. There's no sense making an appointment for her to tighten half my head, especially since it isn't just the back or the front. I have fast and slow growing patches all over.

Now I don't have to do that. I feel like I might just find myself settling into a pattern of tightening them up as needed and only going to my consultant once every three months or so to make sure I haven't totally obscured my parts and that my pattern isn't completely corrupted. (I suspect there are at least 5 locks I might have tightened backwards, although I'm not sure what I did differently, but somehow when I was done, they didn't feel like the others...hmmm.)

Still loving my Sisterlocks, and the $35 I spent on the nappylocs tools was one of the best investments I ever made.

Still in love...7 months it's been forever and a day since I posted photos, and that's because it's been forever and a week since I took any.

But here they pics from my 7 month anniversary and my first self-tightening.

My ends are still curly....

I think I'm at a stage where it's looking fuller instead of longer.

My first self-tightening. I think I did a pretty good job! Especially considering that I was self-taught. I just purchased a tool and read directions from the Internet. Then I simply went for it. I'm very pleased with the results!