I went for the chop, again, a couple of months ago. After 5 years of growing locs, and loving them, I decided to say goodbye. I think the barber knew what I wanted as soon as I entered the shop but he waited for me to speak. I told him my intention and he cried out in pain and carried on with that wounded spirit for the entire time he cut my hair.
I had never had such long hair before: my locks had almost grown to below my shoulder blades. But it was time. Right now I’m convinced that I will definitely loc again but, I wanted a break to focus on inner things that I felt my hair was somehow distracting me from dealing with. Months later I have no regrets. In fact, I’ve never been happier and so fulfilled in all aspects of my life!
I had an afro for 4 years before I had locs. I can’t lie, it was a challenge. I loved how thick my hair was but that came with it’s own battles, particularly after university when I got my first job. I felt that it was only presentable to wear my hair out every day and that meant daily combing and daily plaiting of matutas! That took a lot of time and I wasn’t schooled on best practice to ensure that my hair remained strong and healthy. So there were good days and bad days. Locking was in many ways a relief.
So why am I excited about having an afro again? It’s an opportunity to enjoy all the things I loved about having an afro and importantly, to do things differently. I’ve been educating myself thanks to the great blogs and youtube channels out there (and books too, which are on my list!). It’s amazing the wealth of information people have shared. People, with hair like mine, who have tried, tested, failed and recovered from different natural hair care routines, techniques and so on.
Particularly of note is Kimmay Tube (thanks for getting me hooked Tamara!). Watch her hair journey here. (I’ve been using her leave-in conditioner recipe and it’s working a treat!)
There are several other ladies that I came across through Kimmay including: RusticBeauty, CurlyChronicles and CrownofHisGlory. Other great online resources include the blog, Black Girl Long Hair. Along with useful tips, Qs & As, there’s great inspiration from women with wonderful ‘fros and locs. Last week I also discovered Nappturality which has great information and a forum too.
The parts before…
I remember growing up, how doing each other’s hair was a fantastic cross-generational bonding ritual. Whole afternoons spent, nurturing our crowning glory, learning about ourselves, and through stories told by our mothers, learning about our culture and life. It seems then that we all had much more time then. I wonder sometimes whether it’s today’s fast-paced and increasingly individualist lifestyle that has made that impossible? Or is it just down to the decisions we make and the priorities we choose?
One great point Kimmay makes is that, taking good care of your natural hair will probably take time. It’s the committment you make if you want strong, healthy hair. The same way you commit to devoting time for exercise, or anything else that you value.
Images: at top, my aunt doing my mother’s hair; my ‘fro at it’s longest; my locs at their longest and; me today, well… a month ago 🙂