Women of all races have an ongoing relationship with their hair. It’s the one thing you carry around with you every single day (apart from your mobile phone). It’s one of the first things someone sees when they look at you, whether you have hair or not, how long or short it may be. Whether it be blonde, ginger, brunette, brown, black or any other colour in-between. It may frame your face or even define your individual style.
It’s often said that ‘hair is our crowning glory’. Our black hair comes in many different textures, curl patterns and colours. Whilst most of us love our hair, our relationship with it has been a constant and not always positive change.
As a people, our forced transportation from Africa to the West meant that for a very long time we lost the ability to love and care for our natural hair. For many many years as slaves, women didn’t always have the will or the time to look after their hair properly. When physical slavery officially ended, we were so completely traumatised that the mental slavery continued. We desperately wanted to ‘fit in’ with the stereotype that our hair had to be straight and smooth in order to be ‘good’, and when it wasn’t done to fit in with the stereotype, it was done because our hair was ‘hard to handle’ or because it was ‘easy and convenient’.
Several decades and fashion changes have happened to our hair in between. In my lifetime, I’ve worn a big afro, very short afro, a fade, the press, jherri curl, straight perm, single plaits, braids, double twists, a badly installed weave which I wore for a day and a wig the next day to cover said weave! In 24 hours I went from a jherri curl to a weave to a wig and back to the curl. A disastrous day to say the least.
I decided to go natural permanently simply because I was tired… and I honestly thought it was time to wear it just as it came. My attitude was if they (meaning society) didn’t like it, ‘tough!’ I had had enough! I was tired of the burnt scalp from the the perm or the singed ears from the hot comb. I was tired of the trek to find the right packet of hair to buy and the seemingly endless hours it took to install it. I was tired of the hours it took me to undo the whole process every few weeks, only to start all over again. I was tired of losing a whole weekend for hair that wasn’t even mine (well, yes I bought it, that doesn’t count)… I was tired of waiting in a queue at the salon for what seemed like forever to get into the stylist’s chair because my appointments were never kept to time.
For nearly 20 years now I’ve been happily natural and for most of that time I’ve worn small locks.
Even when I’ve cut my locks (currently on my 3rd set, installed in 2005), I wore my hair natural and I can’t foresee a time when I would ever be otherwise. It is a personal preference for me to wear my hair this way. It is what was bestowed upon me at birth coupled with the colour of my skin. It is intrinsically part of who I am. I am glad I’ve had the privilege of helping a ton load of women on their own locks journey and I do accept that not everyone will even want to go au naturel. Each woman makes her own choice and I cannot criticise because once upon a time, I too was on a different path…. until I was comfortable, confident and wanted the change. It took me many years to reach where I am now.
I asked my 16 year old son today what he thought of locks. These are his own words…
“Locks are an effortless way to flaunt your natural assets, it shows time, commitment and a confidence in your own self and being. Your hair is not just a temple, but a shrine devoted to yourself, your hair is important in establishing yourself and locks provide a casual yet professional interpretation of afro hair, with effortless style and fashion. Locks are timeless, locks are chic and most of all, Locks are for us”.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below