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.


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?

Giuliana Rancic

I was about 16 when I decided that I was going to loc my hair up.

To that point, I’d had every hair style that one could have as a little black girl growing up in the 90s.  My hair had been permed.  My mother hand straightened my hair with the hot comb (the one that you would stick on the burner and run through your hair).  I’d rocked box braids.  And finally, when I was old enough to realize that I didn’t want anyone touching my hair or pulling it anymore, I decided that I was going to loc it up.  I don’t think my mom took me seriously at first.  Up to this point I’d been an imaginative teen, and had dreamt of being a singer, practiced my autograph over and over, changed my handwriting, tried to be a lefty, and expressed my dreams of becoming a Rockette, so she may have thought it was just one of my Cheri-isms, and she bought me a few books on it from the library, not thinking it would lead anywhere.

But I was relentless.

I loc’ed it up myself, and my parents were so horrified by the results (rightfully so), that they took me to a place to get a consultation, and then finally, to get my locs started.  They were short, little baby locs, and my mother was horrified.  She begged me to let her cut them off.  She begged me to try a wig, and then a weave.  And when it became clear that I was serious, she left it alone, and most likely resigned herself that I was just going to with short hair forever.  [Side note:  mom has since come around, and admitted that she didn’t understand what they were going to look like.  She loves it, and has since started to wear her hair natural as well.]

Since then I got into a prestigious private college, graduated college, attended graduate school, met my husband, got married, bought a house, and made a life as one of the director team at a non-profit.

All this to say that though I chose to transition my hair back to its natural form 10ish years ago, I am a productive member of society.  But wearing my hair this way made me afraid that white people would look at me and make assumptions about who I was, my education, or my capabilities as an employee.  Fears that came to light when Giuliana Rancic, a correspondent at E!, made the following comments when sizing up Zendaya’s red-carpet look from Oscar Weekend.

“I feel like she smells like patchouli oil… or maybe weed.”

She opened her hands and laughed it off.  My cheeks immediately got hot.

I was taken back to the millions of times people have asked me if I wash my hair.

I was taken back to the time I was in an interview (an interview, people), and one of the gentlemen in the interview asked me what I do with my hair when I’m running.

I was taken back to a 2007 Glamour controversy where an editor stated that natural hairstyles were a big “no-no” for the office.

Giuliana Rancic, your comments were not cool whatsoever.  People with natural hair don’t smell of illegal drugs or douse themselves in patchouli to cover up body odor.  The vast, vast majority of us lead productive lives, and it doesn’t take a classically European hairstyle to achieve any of these.  On the flip side, there are plenty of people with straight silky locks who may smell of patchouli and weed.  I know this because I worked at Whole Foods for a few months while jobs searching after school.  It depends on the individual. 

Now, do I feel like Giulina is an horrible racist?  No, probably not.  But she made an insensitive, stupid, and ignorant comment that peels away that outside layer and reveals what she truly thinks when she sees chicks like me walking down the hall with a huge mane of natural, well-maintained hair.  And that has to change.



I can’t do anything right this week.

This week is really one of those weeks that I cannot do a single thing right.  I fielded nasty emails, my house looks like an explosion rocked through it, and I could not, for the life of me, get anything done in a timely fashion this week.

Including my brother’s haircut.

My sister is getting married tomorrow.  Actually, let me back up.  Debbie actually got married in York, South Carolina last June, and she’s doing the reception/party thingie tomorrow.  Which is awesome, great!  And of course, when you’re overbooking yourself (sure, a staff meeting the same weekend of my sister’s wedding?!), it all seems great a few months out, but I’m completely freaking out and not sure how I’m going to accomplish everything and still emerge with my sanity this weekend.

Two words.  Xan-ax.  Jk jk!

So, in today’s episode of what did I manage to screw up, I was trying to be helpful because I knew my parents were running around and I offered to figure out somewhere for my brother to get his hair cut.

Now I get it.  We’re black, our hair is a little different to manage, however, I went to this kinda hipstery place that gives you a free beer when you come to get your hair cut, and asked if they cut black hair.

The guy was all “OMG of course we cut black hair!”

“Like, black PEOPLE’S hair.  You can do that, no problem?”

“Yeah, of course!”

Course, at that point, I feel like I’m being a jackass for even asking, because hey, they studied hair right?  How dare I assume that a black man’s uncomplicated haircut may be a challenge? So I made my brother an appointment, dropped him off, and waited for the result.

It was a freakin nightmare.

My brother looked actually worse than he did when he walked in.

Exhibit A:

Derek Haircut

Derek Haircut 2From what Derek says, the poor girl had no clue what she was doing, could not so much as brush his hair without pausing to ask him if she was hurting him, and when he asked for a “fade and a shape-up,” she looked at him like he was speaking cat.  Which I speak well, but he does not.

::sigh:: I get it.  Our hairs are textured differently. And you didn’t study black hair wherever you went to.  HowEVER, can we all just agree, at that point, that we won’t tell Cheri, whose sanity is already hanging by a thread, that we can do a fade with an edge-up, when obviously that’s not true?

So, if I go missing, you know my entire family is responsible because I did this to my brother’s hair a day before my sister’s wedding.  The good news is, it’s fixable, and my dear husband is going to take my brother somewhere in the morning while I teach a class and fix this mess I made.



Anyhoo, Happy Saturday!  Stay tuned for some pics of my sister’s nuptials!

I’m running late…

To everything this morning.  My posts, which normally go up before you wake up, was not to be this morning.  I was late to work.   I had to find a sub for my Zumba class.  And yet, I’m feeling so rested and happy with my life, which feels like it’s been thrown into a completely beautiful state of chaos.  And along with the chaos, I present to you, the most beautifully random mess of things today.

1.  I’m still feeling the 15-miler I did on Monday.  I think this is for a few reasons, and one of them is the beautiful weather we’ve been having.  My body, my muscles, and my state of hydration are not used to the relative heat, and 15 extra hilly miles did its work on me.

2.  That said, running with friends > running Raleigh hills by yourself.  I literally remember running one of those hills a few Sundays back and feeling so defeated.  It was a completely different feeling with two friends to chat with through them, and I swear, the hills felt less jerky with the friends.

3.  This top knot. 

photo 2 (5)A few questions here.  Is it a top knot still if you’re loc’ed up?  Is it still a top knot if you’re in desperate need of a retwist?  Is it still a top knot if you only did it because your hair is dirty and you didn’t know what else to do with it?

3.  We picked our wedding bands yesterday, which I will tell you all about next Wedding Wednesday.  I also think I picked our caterers, but again, I’ll tell you all all about it next Wednesday.  Are you feeling suspenseful?  Suspended?  What would be the appropriate word here anyways?

4.  Thinking about that second pet?  Think about it long and hard.  You know, I’m fostering the best beagle in the whole world, right?

photo 1 (7)But lord, between him, the cat, and the dog, they are giving me a damn run for my money.  Here, Beagle climbed into my lap, thinking he’s the same size as Coco.  But he’s totally not.  My house has descended into a state of circus.  I kinda love it though, I really think I thrive on insanity.

Tell me one random thing about your day!


If you were thinking natural girls don’t need maintenance, think again.

When I made the transition to natural hair, I was probably about 17-years-old.  I had been traumatized by repeated trips to the salon, where, in an effort to tame my naps, the stylist would pour chemicals on my head and allow them to sit until my hair would lie in fear of the chemicals.

Safe, right?

Eventually, the chemicals took their toll and my hair was not looking too well off by middle school.

Then, I graduated to having my hair braided all the time.  Which was fine, except the place where we went in Charlotte would pull our hair so violently, I ended up in her bathroom in tears once.  And I was too scared to ever tell her that my head usually hurt for two days after the box braids were put in.  Plus it smelled weird there.

So finally, at the tender age of 16 or 17, I got fed up with it, and I somehow decided that I was going to wear my hair in dreadlocks.  My mom gave me a really hard time about it – locs were not yet super mainstream, and she associated the style with marijuana use and dirt.

But I was really persistent, and wore my hair in a short style, and nearly 10 years later, here I am!

If any of you are thinking of going natural, and you feel moved to do it, DO IT!

Locs fit my lifestyle.  Most people assume I’m from California, largely due to my demeanor and the fact that I sound like Hilary Banks when I talk , and the locs fit the Cali lifestyle.  I’m also semi-crunchy, and I work out a ton.  But just because the locs fit my lifestyle doesn’t mean that they’re not work.

photo 1 (2)

After weeks of running and working out and washing, my hair was in a state.  I didn’t have a ton of time, so I made an appointment with someone local to maintain my locs, but she abruptly canceled on me.  My mane couldn’t wait.  It was begging for maintenance.  And the fact that she abruptly canceled on me made me a little leery.  I don’t normally let anyone touch my hair, and I’m not letting someone touch my hair who doesn’t show up for her appointments.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and it was time for John Frieda’s Smoothing Shampoo + Conditioner.  I’d read reviews, and black women had said some good things about the way it had left their hair feeling.  (Normally I go for Giovanni, but I needed heavy-duty artillery for this mess).

photo 4 (2)

Post-shower + wash, the hair was already looking better, and felt a lot softer.

photo 5


And I set to the task of twisting with a few clips, since my growth was so soft and not really wanting to stay, with this.




Which leaves the hair feeling light and soft.  And there’s no smell really, which is good, cause I hate smelly hair stuff.

photo 1 (3)


Work those clips honey!

photo 3 (1)…And ta-dahhhhh!  Here is the finished product.

photo 2 (3)Soft, manageable, looking much better, and cheaper than getting it done!

Are any of you guys thinking about going natural?  Why or why not?  



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.



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.

We’ve all thought of cutting our hair short, right ladies?

Especially during the summer.  As my huge bun slaps me in the back of the head when I run, yeah, I’ve thought about it.  Whenever I wash, and I have trouble getting some of the soap out of my locs, I think that things may just be easier if I cut it off.  And whenever I retwist my locs after a long run and a shampoo, only to sweat it out in the next day’s workout, I think about it.  But…

How would I style it if I cut it short?

Would my face look too skinny if I cut it?

Would I look like  dude if I cut it?

Would I have to invest in a lot of makeup and earrings so people wouldn’t think I was a boy?

A lot of thinking.   And then Beyonce just DID IT.

Beyoncé and her new pixie crop

Okay, before I weigh in, let me say this. Beyonce could fart in the mic, and I would buy the record.  I used to cut out magazine and newspaper clippings of her, and post them inside my closet door (because my mom wouldn’t let me put posters up in my room).  I would get offended when anyone disagreed with anything she did, included whenever she made a worst-dressed list.  Including this gem.


This photo appeared in black-and-white in the Charlotte Observer in like 2002, with some rude like “WORST DRESSED” tagline. I got so mad, I cut that thing out, and pretended to like the outfit so that Beyonce wouldn’t get her feelings hurt. I care girl.

But this haircut?  Which I’m sure is more practical for all of the physical activity she does?  I can’t co-sign.  I’m sorry.  I’m still a huge fan.  But I cannot cosign on this mess.  And that is what it is.  It is a MESS.  I feel so bad saying that.

That said, I’m continuing to grow my locs out for my wedding.  And then what?  That means at least one more summer of running and swimming and yoga with all this hair.  Do I keep it?  Or cut it?  What do you think?  (And what do you think of Queen Bey’s cut?)

Seriously, Maxim?

I don’t hate men.  I quite like them really.  And it’s not my intention to turn my blog into a constant man-hating rant.  But the men responsible for the Maxim Hot 100 list should be appalled at themselves.

It’s that time of year again.  The time when People reveals it’s most beautiful people in the world (a title I find a little more acceptable because they actually list accomplishments, and reasons that the person may be actually beautiful inside, fancy that!), and the time when Maxim lists its Hot 100.  Gah.  Drives me bananas.  So I wake up, a few weeks ago, to some Twitter apocalypse where Miley Cyrus, the baby that was in those Hannah Montana movies I like so well (Hoedown Throwdown ladies!), is Maxim’s hottest woman?!  Look, I think she’s great, but this sort of sick feeling starting to bubble up.  And I nearly wrote one of my famous letters-to-the-editor right then and there.  But I knew it’d fall on deaf ears.  So fans of my prodigious musings, I give you:

Reasons Why Those Fools Down at Maxim Need a Slap.

1.  We (women) are not cows.  This is not a country fair.  Therefore, scan the room, and have several seats, because ranking women is so pre-voting rights.  Boys do that in middle school.  We’re adults.  We don’t do that any more.  It’s gross.

2.  Miley Cyrus is 20.  She is a child.  I am 25 and I recognize this.  And putting that poor girl in a bikini for a bunch of pervs to ogle is just wrong.  Would you like people to look at your 20-year-old that way?  No?  Then Why would you do this?  Billy Rae can’t make her do anything he says anymore cause she’s an adult, but you don’t have to go putting kids in your mag looking like that.

Miley3.  The lack of color is blinding.  From the quick, nauseated scan I did of the 100, I saw like 4 black women on the list.  You’re trying to tell me that black women aren’t pretty?  Actually, I’m fairly certain that’s exactly what you want the world to think.  And it’s not just black women that are underrepresented.  Can we get some Latinas, some Asians, some color up on that list? (Seriously, that’s why I stopped watching the Bachelor/Bachelorette years ago.  When “Flava of Love” is the best thing that folks have in their minds to represent women and men of color dating?  We’ve got a serious prob, Bob.)

And finally…

4.  If you insist on listing, or ranking women, can you at least do it for their achievements?  I’ll admit that I liked Hannah Montana as much as the next girl.  But Michelle Obama is a lawyer, mother of 2, gardens, and has arms like a goddess.  Shakira is a mother, an international superstar and a humanitarian.  Angelina Jolie has a million kids and is speaking on behalf of those women who don’t have a voice (kudos on your latest, hon).  Oprah has paved the way for the next black female billionaire.  Doesn’t that count for something?

Rant. Over.  ::drops mic::

The things I do for love…

The things I do for love...

Love of my hair, of course.

In the never-ending saga of “shiz I’ve had to purchase online for my hair because they don’t put sufficient amounts of black products in regular drug stores,”  (and that is another post, for another day,) I purchased my ORS (formerly Organic Root Stimulator) Twist and Lock Gel off of Amazon. Because I’m an absolute idiot, for some reason, I inadvertently purchased 4, because I’m completely incapable of reading product descriptions because I get so excited, I just hit “proceed to checkout”. Not to worry though. My swift procurement of four of these bad boys ensures that I will not be on that frustrating hunt for this product in local drug/cosmetic stores while my hair grows at a furiously rapid pace at least until the summer, if not until the end of the year.  So rest easy folks.  Can’t cut the mane, til I finish the absolutely obscene amount of product that arrived today.

**Correction.  I opened the package, and discovered that there were 6 containers in the box, along with 2 free nail files?!  My hair’s gonna be down to my toes by the time I finish this stuff.**