One month ago, I decided to start my loc journey. It was a difficult decision, mostly because I know, count ’em, ONE person who has dreadlocks… This is all new for me.
My hair and I have had our many battles. Between the flyaways and flat irons, I have been totally exasperated by my curly, kinky waves.
As a biracial woman, hair has always been a sore subject for me. I grew up in the city of Ann Arbor, starting at school they nicknamed “Everwhite.” The school was actually Eberwhite, but I’m sure you catch my drift. I was one of four black children in my grade, and the school enjoyed putting us all in separate classrooms – for optics of diversity. I was constantly different from everyone, and everyone knew it, most of all me. All my friends were white, 90% of the teachers were white, and at the top, my mother was white.
I sometimes wonder how life might have been different if my mother, instead of my father, had been black. I remember as a child, looking up to my mom and wondering ‘why does she look so different from me?’
I always wanted her thin pale body, her ocean blue eyes, and her long blond hair. I envied everything, even the strangest of differences like her clean armpits that took a razor with no problems. I was over here with my thick brown body, my dark brown eyes and my even darker brown armpits which were always irritated due to shaving.
She is my mom and I love her with all my heart, even as it broke when she told me I could no longer use her hairbrush. My hair had to have oils added in, and when I used her brush it caused those silky strands to grease up. These are little things, but I see now how detrimental they were to my psyche then. I constantly thought I was wrong. So wrong, that when my parents saved up enough money to buy the American Girl Doll I had been asking for, I chose one that looked just like her: white, blond hair, and blue eyes.
Please know I’m not on any level blaming my mom, simply setting the scene a bit.
I have an older sister, Kaliani, not her real name, but one I’ve taken to calling her. I watched her go through similar struggles as we grew and even to this day. At a very early age in life, Kaliani found solace in doing hair, which actually led her to a degree in cosmetology. Kaliani is wonderful with hair and makes folks shine with her work. She’s done my hair for years trying to find a style I liked, a length I could keep up with, and some empowerment in my -do. She worked so hard to get me to love my hair and I’ve always wondered if it was just as much for her as it was for me.
Kaliani always straightens her hair. The only times I ever see it’s natural curl is when she hops out of the shower to find her seat on the couch and start her process. I lie, there are a few times I’ve seen her waves appear, but it is short lived and often wrapped in a bun. I’ve never had a full conversation with her on this, but it seems significant and familiar to me in a way that maybe we don’t have to. We just understand each other.
So, long story shorter – locs.
When thinking about my own hair and how I wanted to style it, I thought… after me! I want my hair to mirror the journey of my life. I want it to feel like something I was proud to take the hour and a half to do and sitting blowing it out was not that way. I dreaded washing my hair and the process it would take next to make it manageable. So I started looking around. I began where all searches begin these days, the good ol’ internet. I found short styles for Black women that seemed ok, but still involved a lot of pressing and preparing. I found some styles for wearing my hair natural that felt doable, but my hair had other ideas on that. In the end, I found a channel on Instagram, Locsndreds, in which I fell in love.
There were so many styles, something new for everyday! The thought of trying locs was enticing to me but terrifying. I had always heard such negative things about doing this to your hair, people saying how dirty it was, how you would have to shave your head to get rid of them. I worried about the smell, about how others would see me, and worst of all, if I was enough to have them.
That last point seemed odd to me, if I was… enough? Enough what? Black enough? Brave enough? What is this enough?
I had to take a step back and realize that I am me. The idea of being enough is based off of someone else’s perspective, their reality over my own. That’s all I wanted, was to own myself, own my reality and keep it about me as a sense of confidence, pride. I am me and that has nothing to do with my hair, with my skin, with my mom or any other. I decided in that moment that I would loc my hair. That this journey would mark my transition from who I thought I needed to impress to who I actually need to impress – me. It would be the roots that I grew into the sky, my connection to the path I walk here on the ground. As above, so below.
I can’t wait for these beauties to grow with me, guide and follow me. To see all I see and stand for my being me on this earth. They don’t always look so nice in these beginning stages, but even that feels like a blessing. Things always get messy before they bloom into the butterfly that’s been waiting. Me-tamorphosis if you will.