Having locs for 27 years: the good, the bad, and the amazing!
When I was 3 and I asked my mom to put my hair in dreadlocks (locs) she explained to me that this would be a commitment. She said I would have to cut off my hair when I was ready to end that commitment and I was surprisingly okay with this. Perhaps because, at the time, my mom’s hair was about 3 inches long and my grandma’s hair was about 1 inch long, or maybe it was because... I WAS 3!
Although I went through moments when I wanted them out, I have never regretted having locs. I absolutely LOVE my locs! That seemingly small decision changed my life. I think having locs for most of my life really helped shape who I am and allowed me certain opportunities. Like how I was in a Cabbage Patch and an Apple Jack (0:22 sec haha) commercial and some others. I am not my hair and I am not defined by my hair, but how people, especially children, react to you when you're different can shape you (Of Course!).
I would often meet people who were surprised by the way that I talked, by my interest, by my college major, by my sexuality, or by my cleanliness because of their stereotypes about people with locs.
Yes, I wash my hair! I wash my hair with water and shampoo. No, I do not use peanut butter or honey in my hair (even though that sounds like a delicious smoothie... add vanilla yogurt!) No, I am not dumb. No, I am not Jamaican (even though Jamaica is beautiful!!). Yes, I listen to No Doubt, and Lauryn Hill, Demi Lovato, Alanis Morrissette, and Beyonce, and whoever I want. Just because I have locs doesn’t mean I am an expert on reggae music.
I had locs well before there were YouTube tutorials so I did make mistakes. Like that one time in the 3rd grade when I was to play an old judge in our school play. I thought it would be a smart idea to just add baby powder to my hair to make it white! Yes, it did turn my hair white. No, it did not come out of my hair! I had white lint in my hair for years... literally after many many many washes! Or that one time in 7th grade I wanted to dye my hair a slightly lighter color of brown and it came out black because my hair just soaked up all the color. And that did wash out... thank goodness!
Another major mistake I made was washing my hair and then after re-twisting and still while soaking wet I would put it into two french braids. My reasoning was that it would be curled after it dried in 2 days. But having water trapped in my locs for that long often made them smell... yuck! Thankfully, I learned this before high school, but I was still scarred by the comments from others for life!
When I was in middle school, I went to a majority white school where few of the kids (or parents) had ever seen locs before and I felt very self-conscious about them. At this age, all I wanted was to fit in and be “normal”. I remember this one instance where a boy came up behind me and pretended to pick bugs out of my hair and eat them like I was a monkey. This was devastating and humiliating.
Soon after that, I asked my mom if I could take out my locs and she didn’t like my reasoning for removing them and said “No, maybe when you get older.” (I am glad about her decision now!) She did say that I could get a wig to have some variety but when we went to the wig store none of the wigs fit over my locs or looked natural. Although I didn't get a wig then I always liked the idea of having options.
In college, I got more comfortable with myself and my hair. Being around a more diverse crowd expanded my idea of beauty to a point where I could see myself in that spectrum. I got more compliments and good feedback on my locs! I felt like I truly accepted myself.
Around 5 years ago, I (finally) looked up some loc tutorials on Youtube and started to experiment with fun loc updos! This was super fun and I fell in love with my locs again! Also, YouTube has a tutorial for everything! With a lot of Youtube help, I learned how to make wigs so I could make them big enough to fit over my big ol’ head (+ locs)! Wigs were a great way for me to experiment with my look! I am not an expert wig maker but they didn’t come out half bad!
While I was in graduate school, the “natural hair movement” really started gaining traction. I saw all these beautiful women with big full luscious curly hair. I wanted it! One day, about 3 years ago, while at the beach with Stephen, I decided to comb out one very small loc close to my ear. When I saw my cute and coily, curly hair, I was in love! But I wasn't quite ready to give up my locs yet. I loved my length and all of the versatile styles and I wanted to have my locs in for my wedding day... so I waited.
I have been looking at a ton of natural hair videos on YouTube and becoming more and more obsessed with big curly hair. I decided that for my 30th birthday I would be un-loc’d and let me hair down! That gave me enough time to get used to the idea. It also gave me time to talk with my family and friends about the change. I turn 30 in the fall of this year and I am only 17 locs away from being loc-free (I started with around 115 locs)!
In my next post I will talk about how I combed out my locs, the emotional take-down process, and the reaction of my husband, family, and friends. Don't miss my curly hair reveal pics!
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