Got My Hair Un-did

P1020730

It took three weeks, a pack of broken combs, some tears, a fair amount of cursing.
But I did it. I combed out all 169 locks on my head and am now the proud owner of a little awesome Afro.
It’s been a few years in the making, the desire to start again. But I couldn’t just cut off 17 years of living and loving and travel and jouvay, you know?
I’m actually really happy I chose to unlock it. It gave me a chance to say goodbye to my locks. To let go of all that I had been through and experienced for all those years.
Hair is emotional.
I talked about it for a couple weeks with my sisters (who gave me the look specially reserved for my frequent mad ideas). On Christmas Eve I started at the centre of my head. My arms hurt. I cried. A few days in I lost all zeal to continue. Somehow I kept going (I started to run out of headties).
As my hair started to emerge in all its mad curly glory I became overwhelmed by a sense of how completely we have been made to hate ourselves.
A thing as fundamental to your sense of being as your hair gets undermined from the time you are born. This was not the case in my house and thank the goddess I had two older sisters to comb my hair for me.
I realized last year that I missed those times with my sisters when they would comb my hair. I think the loss of those rituals between women of different generations is part of the further destruction of community and a sense of (haha) rootedness.
The more of my hair I saw, the more I became excited that I would have those moments again. When someone would show care in my appearance and give me a bad ass hair style that didn’t come out of a bottle or a heating appliance.
When I was in India last year I got questioned about my hair a lot, given that the only people there who wear their hair in locks are Saddhus and the warrior ascetics known as Nagas.
I tried to explain that locks were a totally acceptable way of women wearing their hair, to which the response was ‘and men find this attractive?!’
In truth, locks for me have been a kind of anti-beauty. A deliberate subversion of an idea of what hair should look like for a black woman. Some men find the idea of that attractive. That you are determined not to fit into what society says is beautiful.
But my time with my locks taught me that what is most important is to be comfortable enough in your skin, in your sense of who you are, in your sense of where you are going and where you have come from. I was never a ‘Revlon Rasta’. I wasn’t one of those compulsive groomers. My hair was wild (and still is) and occasionally depending on my mood I tried to tame it into what may have been loosely construed as a hairstyle.
But I feel like I’m into another phase now. One that gives me the room to play with my image. I’m really enjoying my afro, like getting to know a new friend. My hair is so fricking awesome!! I’ve been spending a lot of time just playing with it. Loving it. Anointing my scalp with coconut oil. The variety of textures, the need for care.
Your hair can teach you a lot about your own complexities. I’m loving getting to know myself in a totally different way.

About these ads

6 thoughts on “Got My Hair Un-did

  1. Did a comparable meditation attend or precede the weaving of the169 locks 17 years ago? And did it include a sentiment such as “I’m loving getting to know myself in a totally different way”?

  2. Pingback: Trinidad & Tobago: Hair You Have It · Global Voices

  3. The famous Bill Crosby once said, “It isn’t a matter of black is beautiful, as much as it is that… white is not all that’s beautiful.” I hope that his words speak to your hurting heart of acceptance. My goal in this life is not to redefine beauty, but to change what it’s built on. My blog series, is in hopes that we can all see that our black, white, yellow, green, pink, orange, and every color in between has beauty of its own.

    http://beautymyblack.wordpress.com/

  4. Just to clarify on my previous Comment
    I just started my blog series and I’m, “Promoting” it by posting what its about on blogger’s “Comment Sections”. I’m not referring to you or anyone particular. Luv your post!

  5. I remember painstakingly combing out my 11 years of locks. I was able to manage 4 a night. what a process! emotionally and physically. Now 7 years after combing them out I am starting again. the journey continues. :-)

  6. I think you’ve got it spot in Tillah. it is not about what people think, it is about what you want. I remember the first time I cut my locks, it was about my gran’s comments and out of respect for her. I did start again 4 years ago. I love them, but sometimes I do I a desire for change. This desire has not overwhelm me yet but if it do cut my locks now, it will be about me. No external pressure or influence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s