Thursday, December 29, 2016

It's my hair

I recently had my hair in dreadlocks. I had committed to wearing them for a year starting October, 2015. I usually had them put up into a design pattern. After a few weeks, I would take them loose and wear the locs just hanging, which was annoying as they weren’t really long enough to hang freely so they would stand away from my head. I would also be frustrated by the knots along the hair and I would want to take them out. I would end up trying to untangle the locs and realized that they were part of the inherent nature of ‘locs,’ so I would go back to the loctician and have them put back into a design on my head out of reach.

Today, December 29, 2016, I decided that I was done. It has been over a year. The bottom line is that it’s just hair, so while I still have some on my head, I like to indulge myself in a variety of looks and styles. Locs are beautiful. I enjoyed wearing some of the patterns and I even enjoyed having them hanging loose when they were finally long enough to hang freely. (However, the knots still annoyed me!)

But I’m a hairdo person. I like to change my look all the time. Keep ‘em guessing. So once I decided to take my locs out, my friend came over to help.

At first, I was trying to save my hair by actually taking the locs apart and unknotting them. This process was so tedious that in the length of TWO MOVIES we only managed to take down a small handful.

The next option was to cut them out. I had decided to unlock them a couple weeks ago, so they had been loose for about two weeks. There seemed to be sufficient new growth that we could actually cut them at the first ‘knot’ and then take them out from there.

This left an incredibly asymmetrical pattern all over my head. My hair was long where we had actually unlocked the dreadlock; my hair was shorter in places where we cut the locs out, and longer in places with more new growth. Needless to say this left me with a need to have it corrected.

Ultimately, it seemed like the best option I was going to have was to get my hair chopped off at the barbershop, but I called my hairdresser first. She said she would cut it for about $15. Gave me a 10:30 a.m. Thursday appointment. That seemed like a plan. My friend had gone to a barbershop locally to have hers cut, so I texted her. Her barber charged $10. She gave me the barber’s name and her number. I called twice, left a message once. No response. I took that as a sign.

I called my hairdresser back and said I had decided to have it done instead of just cut and was 10:30 still a good time. She said, ‘Sure.’

As I was sitting in her chair today, I was reminiscing about my first experience with a hairdresser. I was probably in about 4th grade. When we lived in New Jersey, I had relatives who braided my hair and it would be up for a week at a time. When we moved to Philadelphia, we had no such access. My mother worked so she didn’t have time or talent to braid my hair, so after about a year of struggling with it, my mother decided to take me to the hairdresser.

The woman she found could not have been more accommodating. It was like I had a personal hairdresser. My Mother and I would wash our hair at home and then go sit in this woman’s living room and wait our turn to have our hair done. My hair is very soft and doesn’t hold styles well. It would be cute for a minute, but I would have to put pink sponge rollers in it at night.

However, if it was a special event, perhaps picture day at school, this woman would do my hair THAT MORNING! For the school dances, I would wash my hair, get completely dressed for the dance, and then go to her house to have my hair done. On several occasions she assisted me in getting my dress on over my recently done ‘do.’ I remember she attached ‘ringlets’ to my hair for a school dance when ringlets were ‘all the rage.’ I remember her styling my hair on the morning of picture day at school. I even remember her helping me into my dress for the Sophomore Hop!

That summer, however, was the rise of the Civil Rights and Black Panther movement and having one’s hair done went quickly out of fashion. We travelled to California that June and when I returned to school in the fall, I had a short, curly afro that I had fashioned by merely washing my hair and rolling it in my ever popular pink rollers. (Those pink sponge rollers have stood the test of time!)

Today I wear my hair in a variety of styles. Sometimes hot-curled, other times in braids, or my short afro. Never chemicals, so I consider all my hairdos 'natural.' Many folks make a political statement of their natural hair. Other people make an actual issue (there is SO much animosity against Black women wearing natural hair!)

To me, it’s just hair - not really political, not even that serious. Other women might disagree, but that is not where my vanity lies. My vanity lies elsewhere. However, I love my hair. I love my hairdressers. I love my braiders. And I’ve loved my locticians. Thank you all for being kind to my hair. 

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