Why I Loc’ed Up

If you’re new here and you don’t know what I look like, too damned bad.

Just kidding.

Me and AndrewThis is me and my friend Andrew at a brewery a few weeks ago.  You’ll notice a few things about me.  One, that I am stunningly gorgeous.  And two, that I have an entire head full of dreadlocks, or locs as they’re commonly referred to.

Kidding again about the stunningly gorgeous part too.  That actually took very much premeditation.  Like I actually showered on the day we took that photo.

But I’m getting off-topic.

So, people are really curious about my hair.  Less so these days, because locs are definitely far more common than they were, but the questions I’ve gotten about this hair, ranging from questions of hygiene to even my sexuality (yes) have been plentiful.

So here’s how I came to the style.

So when I was a wee junior in high school, I had literally done every style that there is to do on a little black girl.  As a kid, my mother had relaxed our hair.  We graduated to getting it relaxed at the salon, and then in the summer time, my mom began to allow us to do box braids.  When it was time to get the braids out, we’d stay up, all night sometimes, taking the braids out, washing, and combing our hair, only to spend another day in the african hair braiding salon for them to reinstsall.

After that, we’d be in agony for like two days waiting for the braids to loosen up because they’d be snatched up so tight.  It’s truly a wonder that I have any edges at all because the women braiding really were trying to make it a point that that didn’t happen.

This is a loose guesstimate, because I really didn’t realize the magnitude of my decision, but I want to say that early on in the year of 2003, I decided that I was 100% done with having my hair pulled, yanked on, burned off, and in general, sitting still for upwards of 8 hours, waiting for a style to be finished.  To this day I can’t sit still, so I’m not exactly sure how I did it when I was so young.  But I was really sick of it, and I told my mom I wanted dreadlocks.  I didn’t know much of anything about the style, which, today, sounds really bratty and sort of trustafarian of me, but I just knew I was done with conventional hairstyles.

Now, at the time, locs were not at all popular, and were mostly being worn by men, and by women of color who were either musicians, or stereotypically, lesbians.  (Which is where the comments about my sexuality came from in the early 00s.)  My father was fairly indifferent to the decision, however, he insisted, after I attempted to start them on myself, that I see a pro.  My mother, on the other hand, was really against the decision, since she associated the style with being unclean and some unsavory characters she’d interacted with in New York.  But we went to a pro who trimmed the relaxed and damaged hair off of the ends, and began to twist my entire head.  It was short.  Like really short.  And I wish I had photos of how long it was, but again, I didn’t realize how cool it would be to document, and I never thought to take a picture.

Prom

This is me at the prom in early 2005, probably about 1.5ish, 2 years into the process?

The thing that was really cool about starting the locs, and keeping them, was that similarly to life, you don’t realize the growth is there until it’s there, in your face.  When I started the locs, they were teeny-tiny, and I didn’t have anything to hide my face with.  I felt really exposed, and my dang scalp was cold.

With each wash, and then each year, they got longer and longer.  They’re long enough now to pull back, and for my wedding, I was able to pull it into a gorgeously complex style that served, not only as fierce wedding hair, but also doubled as a face lift cause this stuff is HEAVY.

The significance, since I’ve started my locs, has shifted a lot.  Locs went from being a style of convenience for me to being something more, something from which I draw a lot of pride, and I’ve fielded a lot of (good) questions about the process.  I think about cutting it sometimes, especially during the summer when it’s hot, or I feel like I need a change.  I think about cutting it, and starting it again, but I’m not sure what the future has for me.

What questions do you have about the hairstyle?

Locs and workouts.

I showed up to see friends last week with fresh locs, and the compliments wouldn’t stop. For those who weren’t as familiar with locs, I got a lot of well-meaninged “Did you get a haircut? It looks sooooo good!” So here’s how it goes down.

I almost understand when women say they don’t want to work out because of their hair.

It’s not cheap. OR (as in my case)

You spend an hour methodically twisting each loc, then you dry it, and tie it in a silk scarf, only then to look like you were raised by wolves a few days later after your 20-miler. I get it.

And last week was totally one of those weeks.

I’d started rocking the famous top-knot because my roots were looking so ratch, because I’d washed after a particularly grueling workout without a twist. You never do that.

Again, a lot of folks get curious about what goes on with locs, especially if you’re an active lady (or gent) so here’s the breakdown.

Hair

 

Far left is new growth/what’s unraveled kind of, since last twist. Locs grow like crazy because you’re not stunting them with scissors or chemicals, so even in a week’s time (and this was far longer than a week unfortunately,) you’ll notice some fuzzies at the root. You can kind of see it in this picture a little, and one of these days, I’ll take a better one so you can really see, but my hair is really two colors, super blond on the ends, and darker toward the roots. Not in a gross tacky way, but because I’ve spend almost three entire summers outside and I run outside, the ends of my hair have captured the most sun. It looks kinda cool, but it can make for some dry times, and I have to be careful to moisturize. Instead of washing with shampoo this time because I was so dry, I went straight to conditioner and glossed it with an oil right after.

Middle is post-twist. At this point, I’ve perfected the art of the twist and I can twist up my entire head in 45 minutes. I put it in a braid so I could finish watching Orange is the New Black without running the hair dryer. Plus it’s mid-summer. If I don’t have to blast my already dry mane with hot dry air, I won’t.

Far right is the finished product. Long, fresh, smell-good, and soft locs. This is what my hair looks like for 10 minutes before I work out.

And it’s hard. I love the way my hair looks when I’m all done. I love how swingy it is. I love that my honey loves how it looks. I love that I can do stuff to it. But I’ll be danged, taking care of this thing ain’t easy! I won’t cut them today, or even a year from today. But on those long run days, where my pony is slapping me in the back of the head? Yeah, I totally think about it.