Friday, January 05, 2007

My Hair Journey...The Beginning
(Pic to left is me with my afro puff - I'll take better pics later, had to get at least one with the puff!)

In 1997 after being accepted to law school, I decided that I needed a carefree hair style which didn't involve 5 hours or more of my time every month to get my hair done. So I decided I would get micros. Well, my first set of braids were less than desirable because they weren't exactly micros and they didn't always stay in my head, meaning it was nothing for me to find an errant braid on my car seat or like once on my car window when I was getting out of my car. Embarrassing.

So I called around trying to find a shop where I could get me some real micros, I found one who in turn referred me to Brenda Robinson. The lady on the phone assured me Brenda could handle my request and since she was booked 3 months out, that was my best bet. I called Brenda that day and from the moment we talked on the phone, there was a connection. Brenda was funny and I could tell she had a bit of hood in her so I was going to enjoy the 8 hours it would take to get my hair done. So at 6 am on a Saturday morning I began my real introduction to micros. Brenda was dynamic in that she talked and worked at the same time. She even was able to do the back of my hair that had been previously shaved and now sported about an inch and a half of hair. Um, it did hurt though. So from 1997 until January of 2004 Brenda did my micros. We were friends, because when you spend hours with someone you can't help but get to know them and friendships will happen. So when she died in March of 2004, I had to decide on what to do next with my hair because as much as her daughter could do my hair, she just wasn't Brenda. Brenda was reliable, loyal and my friend.

In June of 2004 I started wearing Kinky Twists done by a braider here in the city. However, during this time I was thinking about getting dreadlocks. I just wasn't ready to do them yet because I wanted to get that "legal" job without the hindrance of my hair and I didn't want to go bald to start locks. As much as I liked my kinky twists I also didn't like the disloyalty of the braiders. You see I would switch between two shops when one couldn't take me. Let's not even mentioned the fact my sides are thinner now due to their constant pulling to make sure every strand of hair was twisted kinky. Also, the costs seemed to be creeping up a bit too much for me. For example the last time I got Kinky Twist they were $215. I wore micros which I paid $150 (although I really only had to pay $100) and they lasted 4 - 5 months and KT only last 2 months. You can do the math. Not cost efficient.

In 2005 I was talking to one of my cousins from Detroit about wanting to get dreadlocks but not being able to find someone in Montgomery to do them the way I wanted and plus I didn't want to be bald. She suggested SisterlocksĀ® because you could have permed hair and they were more versatile and small enough not to be a problem on any job. Well this summer I finally started researching them and began an earnest attempt at getting ready for a new hair do.
You know in Montgomery finding a consultant was going to be a challenge. I found a certified consultant and a trainee. I contacted the trainee but she didn't respond so I called the certified one and we talked for about 20 mins and I liked her vibe. However, she asked me questions that I couldn't fully answer which meant I needed to do some more research and she gave me some book titles to purchase and offered to meet with me and discuss this journey I was about to start.

Needless to say I purchased the books, did more research, and joined an online group Lock-It-Up to begin a more comprehensive study. So for 2 months I contemplated, prayed and started to begin my journey to this more natural hairstyle.

For me, this meant getting rid of the Kinky Twists extensions and wearing my own hair for about a month and a half. It wasn't easy because I realized that I had preconceived notions about my hair. I believed in my subconscious that long straight hair was the epitome of beauty. I took down those braids, washed my hair and put in this curly cream that was supposed to give my hair some deeply defined waves so I could wear my hair loose and fancy free. Sheet, that mess came out looking a nappy azz mess! I was distraught. I was like I can't go to work like that. So I went in search of a beauty supply store open on Sunday. Found one and was amazed to find a hair piece that would go with my now truly all natural-no-perm hair. Now at first when the worker showed me the nappy piece I was like, "Do you have something straighter?" She was quick to tell me that the afro piece was closer to my hair texture and would really be cute on. Of course, I lifted that one eyebrow and then something in me just snapped. How the hell am I gonna ask for a straighter hair piece, when I am about to start wearing sisterlocks? What happened to the natural is the way to go attitude I had during my research? I was appalled at my behavior and it had me questioning my decision. So I asked the worker to let me try on the afro piece and I was pleasantly surprised - It LOOKED GREAT! I thanked her profusely before I left because she made me realize that this journey I was about to embark on was not going to be easy because I was going to have tear down stereotypes and let go of my past addiction to the 'crack cream'.

Since I am wearing my real and natural hair after not wearing it since 1997, the comments have been interesting. I was told I looked like Peebles from the Flintstones, which I laughed about because she was cute. I have been told I need to get a perm. I was like nope, this is my hair and I don't have to have straight hair. I was asked why I wasn't going to continue to wear my hair like it is now and, why not wear my hair that others like, if it is pleasing to others? First of all, I cannot wear an afro-puff with my hair in a ponytail forever. It is not healthy for my hair. Secondly, I don't wear my hair for others, I wear it for me. I am not in the habit of doing things for the expression of others. Not in my nature, plus a man, because that is what Mr. Moore was hinting at, must like me for the person I am on the inside and not judge me on my hair. I have been told my eyes are now brighter, I looked really cute with the new hair-do and it is nice you can wear your own hair and be okay with it.

Why do I want SisterlocksĀ®? I want to become one with who I am as a person. This year has been a challenging one and I have lost a portion of my true self as I try to do too much. I want to grow up again and I feel I can do that while growing with my hair. I will have to deal with the bad hair days, the good hair days and days when I will question my logic on going on such a journey when I could have just read a really good book. I want to experience the true texture of my hair as it performs its amazing feat of locking within itself. I want to look in the mirror and really see the person I am now, with my added layers of disappointment, fear, stress, depression and true happiness that I know lurks within my being. I want to not be a slave to a beauty shop, African braiders and excessive chemicals. I want to get healthy inside out. I want my whole being to represent me.

I have nothing against folks who get perms and wear there hair anyway they want, hell I used to be them. It is your choice. However, for me it was time. I remember how thick my hair was when I was a child. I remember my first perm and how my hair actually touched my shoulder without having to have my hair washed, plaited into big ugly braids and a hot comb sizzling through my strands of hair and enveloping my senses with the arid smell of burnt hair, ears and foreheads. I want to not have to worry about getting to an appointment on time or being in the beauty shop for hours because your stylist has overbooked, yet again. I don't want to wonder why my hair is breaking off in the back of my hair, showing thinning due to a perm. We as a people know how we want our hair and it is our choice to choose and as I learn I am going to pass on my knowledge of the affects of not wearing our natural hair has on us physically and emotionally.

I know some folks are going to hate this journey I am on. Others will applaud my determination and conviction. Just know this, I am doing this for me and it is not something I am taking lightly. For me it is traveling on a road less traveled, one that doesn't have a buddy system to make the trek easier. I only ask that people accept my choice and know that I am being true to me. "I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectations no no, I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within..." "Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person? Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity? I am expressing my creativity. Lyrics from India.Arie's I Am Not My Hair... Until next time...



At 4:21 PM, Blogger Sis. RJQueen10 said...

I LOVE THIS POST. It is beautiful, transparent, there is depth to your writing and it reflects many of my own thoughts, experiences, and concerns.

I needed to read this; it gives me strength and reminds me why I wanted to be locked in the first place.

I got a little caught up in the politics of it all. And I am NOT a political person. I had made a decision and I should have stuck firm to it. I would be so much further along in my self-LOVE process. But that is okay. God works everything out for my good!

I wonder if my bright countenance and my positive attitude could have really been able to handle the fact that most everyone else who is Sisterlocked did not have to pay near $3,000 for the same amount of hair I have. God really does know what is best, and He is working on my INSIDES as well as my OUTSIDES. When it is all said and done, none of that will matter at all. This is for ME! This transformation I am on will be the complete and biblically perfect package.

Sis. RJQueen10


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