I’ve been wearing natural hair since middle school when Brandy and Janet wore the original box braid/extensions. (We forget that 1995-2000 was kind to brown skin black girls.) In fact, the whole natural hair movement kind of boggled me because for me it was not a decision of resistance but rather necessity. My hair doesn’t straighten well. It’s dry and I’m sure that all the white and native American coursing through my veins, manifests itself solely in my pointy little nose. I was the girl in middle and high school whose nicknames were “Lady of Rage” and “Macy Gray” because I wore afros/twist outs and puffs. And I loved those names. I was different. I was an athlete and wore braids and cornrows. And I was the only one on homecoming court that wore a blowout.
When I went to college and learned that I could wear Senegalese twist and even loc my hair, my “natural” game went up a couple notches. I was twisting and braiding and wearing cornrows- because early 2000s groups like B2K made crazy cornrows a “thing”. And although I still saw my hair as a burden, it was an opportunity for self expression.
I’ve dreaded my hair, I think 6 times now in my life. I loc it and then I either moisturise the locs out or cut them off. This most recent loc season lasted the longest- 4 years. I remember when they started. I had just had my second child and I realized that with my schedule and my kids, locs were my best option to maintain natural, healthy hair. So when my mom came to visit, I asked her to help me start my locs. I cared for them and cultivated them and I’d been doing a really good job of having healthy locs. Then I got pregnant with my third. At that point, I’d been three times pregnant for 4 years straight- my body was really worn down. With all the stress and drama that was going on in my life mixed with pregnancy, my hair began to fall out.
My third pregnancy started in a very tumultuous manner. I didn’t really enjoy my life. I found no joy in work or home and I felt that much of my experience was living me. I would go shower and wash my hair and sometimes a loc would fall out in my hand. It was terrifying. So I decided around month 5 that I would remain calm. My hair began to stay on my head. Post pregnancy I worked really hard at improving my protein intake and nursing my locs back to good health. At one point I’d gotten back to having healthy locs until recently.
I kept getting sick. Although I keep a very clean house and have pretty stringent rules about cleanliness, this cold/flu season destroyed me. I wasn’t sleeping much. I was working full time, going to school, managing my coparenting situation with minor hiccups, and I wasn’t saying no. I’d picked up all several small tasks and “asks” from others that really didn’t benefit me or my goals. It was wearing on me. In addition to the present, I could still feel the weird energy of the past couple years following me like a dark rain cloud. It was like I couldn’t shake a ghostly shackle. I wasn’t happy. That was it. I needed to cut my hair.
As I stood in the bathroom cutting each loc I began to feel liberated. I looked at my face. I scratched my scalp. I went to bed. I only slept 5 hours and woke up refreshed. I meditated that morning. I got up. I washed my hair. It felt amazing to feel so clean. I felt weightless. I don’t expect life to be perfect. I don’t expect life to be easy. I don’t expect life to be kind. I don’t expect to get everything I want. But I do feel like I can close a chapter in my life and symbolically let go of a lot of my past problems.
We don’t realize how much knowledge, information, emotion and even energy our hair holds. It tells a story of where we’ve been, what we’ve eaten and how healthy we are. I looked down at a sink full of beautiful hair. My locs had witnessed a failed marriage, a failed business venture, a career change, a life change, and graduate school. It was time to let them go. It was time for me to let go. It is time for me to start fresh...
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.