Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Natural Hair Fad

The LWC strikes again:

I found this post and comments on Naturally Sophia's Blog very interesting.

I've been natural for almost 20 years now, since the age of 15. I relapsed into relaxing twice.

Once around the age of 19, I experimented with texturizers in an attempt to bring uniformity to my curl pattern, not realizing then that my hair was just going to do what it was going to do.

It grows how it grows and chemicals won't change that. Not in a way that I like.

And again about 2 years later, I had a job that was very important to me at the time (actually, a volunteer assignment, a cause) where my immediate superiors decided that my look did not properly represent the cause.

With tears and trauma, I relaxed my hair to straight. I hated it SO much. It wasn't worth the price. I quit the cause. I cut my hair. I started over fresh and never looked back.

It was terrible at the time, but I am glad I had the experience, because there were times when I was struggling with this Deep South humidity and I thought that a relaxer might be the way to go, but only Fleetingly.

Because then I would remember how awful that final relaxer experience was. How it sucked the life and vibrance from my hair. How I felt so oppressed.

Most men and people of other races - and truly a lot of black women - don't understand what a connection to naturalness you develop.

It becomes a part of your identity. Like your skin color or eye color. When you look in the mirror and see something else, you feel like someone else. I felt like I was bleaching my skin or getting a nose job or some other drastic cosmetic alteration to minimize my ethnicity.

I don’t judge others harshly for choosing to do so, but it really went against my personal grain in a way that I did not realize it would.

Being locked or not is different from being curly or straight for sure.

It is more permanent, but in a way that is good and comforting to me, not in a way that feels limiting or restrictive.

I get angry now when people suggest that I'll get tired of my locks one day and take them out.

And the funny thing is: I know maybe I will cut them and start over with something else SOME day, but not because I am tired of them. Not because I no longer love them. Not because I prefer straight hair or curly hair.

I really don't know what would make me give them up.

I get lots more compliments on my locks now that they are past my shoulders. Enough people seem to realize that if your locks are that long, your straight hair would be 6 - 10 inches longer. And they are fascinated with that.

So I get more comments that say: You should take those out and straighten it. Then it would be REALLY pretty. Or, Don't you want to see how long it REALLY is? Or, Sisterlocks. I've thought about getting those. You can take them out when you want, right?

I am SUPREMELY annoyed.

Each and every time.

I'm not saying that locks or SLs have to be a lifetime commitment for everyone. When I got mine, I didn't know if I would really keep them. I was kind of afraid that I wouldn't like them from the start and might be ready to give them up in the first 6 months. And after the money I invested (while unemployed at the time) I figured at the very least I should keep them for a year to get my money's worth.

But I was in love with them from DAY ONE. So taking them out never seemed like a viable option.

Natural hair was never a fad for me. I do agree that going natural, staying natural, and being natural requires much more of a commitment than 'looking' natural.

But seeing so many more people with a natural look is a very good thing. Natural weaves and wigs are high-maintenance and expensive.

I wore kinky twist extensions for years before I got tired of the fakeness - they were always bulky and the texture was much coarser than my own hair, far inferior to the soft thickness of the natural locks I rock today - and decided to see what my own hair would do. They were a good bridge to where I am now.

If wearing and seeing fake natural hair leads more of us to a place where we are comfortable experimenting with the hair that grows from our heads, then I cannot see that the current fad will be a bad thing. Many fads become trends. I think natural hair is here to stay.

Simply because so many people are getting fed up with the expense and maintenance other styles require. Not that natural hair is cheap or easy to maintain, but I'd rather spend time and money to be proud of my heritage and make the most of who I am than to try to cover that up and look like someone else.

And I believe more and more of us are coming to that realization with each passing day.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I did it. I took the plunge!

Two weeks ago I got married. On a Monday. In blue jeans. Just the two of us.

I have not posted at all in the last three months because there has been a fair amount of chaos in my personal life.

Stuff. Just stuff.

Work. Family. Finances.

I've really just been trying to sort it all out and keep my head above water.

My aforementioned relationship continued to progress well. We had a few of the usual-type snags along the way. (I would have been highly suspicious if we had not. A sign that one or both of us was lying, delusional, or apathetic.)

As early as April we started to talk about getting married in late August. I picked a dress and researched venues for the reception, caterers, photographers, invitations and all manner of other wedding-related incidentals.

Studied up on and compared prices and deposit policies; juggled dates even had one place pencil me in for a preferred date of 8/21 and put me down for first right of refusal until I could secure it with a deposit.

But like I said, life continued to happen with no sympathy or regard for the fact that I was trying to plan my wedding. I hit obstacle after obstacle and by the last week in June when all of the decisions had to be made and most of the verbal commitments had to be finalized with cold, hard cash, I found I was not ready.

Still ready and willing and eager to say, "I do," to the man who would become my husband, but not ready at all to commit to all the rest - the menu and the colors and the date.

Every time we talked about any of it there was anxiety and hesitation in my voice.

I know my SO began to read it as lack of commitment and doubt about us. As much as I protested and tried to reassure him and convince him that things were otherwise, I could tell he had his doubts.

It was never a serious strain, but I could tell that over time it would become so.

By the first week in July we had a discussion where we decided that an August wedding was definitely out, and I began to lobby for October, but even at that I was having problems nailing it down and committing to a date, and, truthfully in terms of planning and follow-through I was much more comfortable with dates as far out as Spring 2011.

But there were problems with that. Lots.

Our religious beliefs dictate that we would not live together unmarried. And there was so much we talked about doing in the next 6 - 9 months when we first decided we would marry in August. Not being married and in the same household would definitely complicate most and outright cancel some of those plans.

Because we are both in our early 30's we each have very separate and distinct individual lives. I think this is a good thing, but, like I said before, though we felt ready for a blending, it was/is still going to be somewhat problematic. However, we were/are eager to start that process.

We reached a point in the development of our relationship where living together under the same roof and making joint decisions is the next logical step. It felt like putting that on hold until Spring would do more harm than good.

We had discussion after discussion about what to do next.

I really didn't want to do a cheap, slapped-together, last-minute wedding. I only intend to marry once and I was quite set on having an elegant affair or an elopement. I apologized repeatedly to my fiance for being so all or nothing and with no real in-between.

I felt bad.

He was very, very understanding.

I wanted to wait until everything was perfect. Until I was a size 4 again. Until my work schedule stabilizes. Until I get a bunch of bills paid and we still had money left to throw a fabulous reception for not less than 100 people. Until my best friends were not traveling internationally... The list was long...

For all of our discussions on what to do, how to do it, and when, it always came back to one thing for him.

He always said: I just want to marry you and start our lives together.

Aww...., right?

So a couple of Saturdays ago after another intense discussion (honestly, it wasn't an argument), he said: Marry me.

To which I said: You asked me that already. I said, 'Yes', I'm wearing the ring you gave me.

To which he said: No, I mean Monday, the day after tomorrow.

Oh? Really? Do you mean that?

I do.

So we didn't talk about it for all of Sunday even though I know it was on his mind and we spent the day together. We both slept on it and on Monday morning it was kind of like: Do you want to?/I don't know - do you want to?

Both of us had slept on it and prayed on it and we really, really talked about it Monday morning. We asked all the important questions and offered all of the relevant reassurances to each other all over again.

And later that afternoon we made it official.

It was a huge weight off my shoulders. I am so relieved. I can focus on us again and not worry about all of the wedding-related details.

I still want to throw a fabulous party for friends and family, but the clock is no longer ticking on it. We don't have to wait for all of the details to come together just so. We have already begun joining our lives.

It is still challenging and parts will not be easy. We are still having our individual struggles, but we can also rely on each other just a little bit more than we could before. We can each be more certain that the other is really in it for the long haul.

And that feels really good.

Plus: We have a super-cool anniversary date: 08.09.10.

I love that!

But not as much as I love my new husband.