I remember being a teenager in high school. My senior year to be exact. I was casually strolling the mall with my aunt, and as we were leaving Macy's department store - I became fixated on someone's hair. The young lady had the most beautiful set of locs in her hair that I'd ever seen, and this wasn't hard to achieve - no one was really wearing locs in their hair. In fact, black girls weren't wearing locs, braids, natural curls or afros.
I parted my lips to say "I want to dye my hair burgundy and get locs," and my aunt simply responded with "mmmm... don't loc your hair." I never asked her why. Her disapproval (and maybe it wasn't even that) was enough for me to never really approach the topic again with anyone. I don't think my mom even knew my desire to loc my hair, but if I had to guess... she would also disapprove.
Growing up, hair was always a BIG DEAL no matter where I turned. Especially to both of my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother took pride in the fact that all of her children and grandchildren had thick, beautiful tresses. Hot pressed and hanging loose was the preference in her home, and don't dare come to her job with your hair looking "a mess." My paternal grandmother was much of the same. Standing appointment with Frank or Harvette every two weeks, where we were chauffeured by my late grandfather L.T. who had strong opinions about women and their hair.
I remember my grandmother cutting her hair one week at our regular appointment, to which he responded "if I wanted a woman with short hair, I would have married one." Everyone around me manipulated their hair to meet some unspoken standard, but it wasn't long before I realized there was an imaginary bar that I had been conditioned to reach.
And I did... time and time again in my 20s and even into my 30s. Bouncing from one salon to the next, playing model for hairstylists. I'd even appeared in a hair magazine (my bra strap was showing - BARF). Experimenting with harsh colors and chemical compounds in my hair was the norm.
All this time, the idea of locing my hair moved farther and farther into the distance of my mind. It actually became a thing that I laughed at - ugh, why would anyone loc their hair? That was my ignorance talking - WHEW, she had a big mouth!
None of that ever felt like me, and I'd have to credit that feeling to who I am as a person... one to try anything that I set my mind to.
So why was the decision to loc my hair so difficult to make?
For all the wrong reasons. Fear of being chastised. Fear of being ridiculed. Fear of being gawked at. Fear of having to explain myself to others. Fear of Corporate America rolling their eyes at a sweet, black girl on paper but OMG, her hair. Fear of a seborrheic dermatitis flare up. Fear of just going against the grain.
I interviewed for a new job after returning from maternity leave with my first born, and was met (virtually) by two leaders in the department. An African American male and female... one with beautiful locs and the other rocking a fresh set of box braids. Something I'd never seen before, or even knew how to appreciate. I felt so seen, and honestly... that was the catalyst for where I am today. Over three years later, preparing for my loc appointment in less than 72 hours.
What is something you've always wanted to do personally, but haven't done out of fear?
Cheers to new endings and new beginnings!