Sunday, June 29, 2008

9 months (and why I'm still locking)

As I've said before, I've tried locking numerous times. I've tried locking various ways. And I've always cut them off or taken them apart. This is the longest I've kept locks in (yay me). And I believe that I'll be growing locks for years to come. The following are reasons I feel that I've been successful this time.

1. Locking freeform

I've tried locking a few different ways (coils, braids, twists, and freeform). And locking freeform is me. There's nothing wrong with locking in other ways, and you can have beautiful, healthy locks starting them with many different ways, in my opinion. But, this was the best way for me. I like how my hair looks, I like how it feels. I like not doing much maintenance on my hair (shampoo, condition, oil, separate). I feel unique with my locks.

2. Introspection

Writing regularly in this blog has helped me get out my feelings about my locks. And knowing that I have this blog has helped me think about things more deeply, even when I don't write them down. For example, I have had fleeting thoughts of taking them down (the thoughts never lasted long). But when the thoughts came, I tried to analyze them ("Girl, you know you have a big bump on the side of your face, and you're not feeling cute today. Don't take that out on your locks." lol)

3. Support

I'd like to take this time to thank my online friends (you know who you are). It was good to have people to go through the process with. We understood each other, because we were locking in the same way. Others maybe didn't lock the way I did, but read my blog anyway, and said nice things. Still others offered needed words of advice. Thanks to all of you.

4. Feeling pretty

For me, this can't be underestimated. I've had issues in the past with this. I can't fully analyze why I feel more attractive to myself now, but here are just a couple things that helped:

4a. Having longer hair

First, I should say that since being natural, I've had short hair many many times. I did a big chop in 1999, which left me with about 1-2 inches of hair. And since then I've cut my hair short a number of times. So I'm not afraid of having short hair. I just really think I look better with long hair. Yes, there may be subconscious reasons for this. But I haven't completely figured those out, so I'm going with the long (okay, big) hair. Kudos to those who can lock with short hair, and they look good in it. I just can't.

4b. Tomoka's Twists

I've locked in the past, and always at some point I get bored with my hair. I want to do something with them, dress them up somehow. But, I'm style challenged. Especially with locks. What do you do with them? I'm still trying to figure that out. But anyway, in the past, a few times I've unlocked because of that. And then did a set of cornrows or twists and remember that I really don't want to spend THAT much time on my hair. Soooo, this time, a couple months into locking I blogged about not knowing what to do with my hair to style it, and carmennc came along and shared her website with me. I brought a few of her Tomoka's Twists, and have been in love ever since. They've made a few cameos in my blog here, here, here, and here. I have 6 different Tomoka's Twists, and one Tomoko's Tie. They're simple to use, and so beautiful to me. Some people may think it's silly, and such a little thing, but I'm glad they found me when they did. They helped me get through some days when otherwise I might have thought my hair was ugly. Thanks, carmennc.

5. Stronger sense of self, and knowing I look good

Don't ask me how, or why, but this time around I really have a "take me or leave me" attitude. Accept me as I am, and we'll be ok. Maybe I was just tired of not doing what I wanted to do because I was thinking about other people. Now, though, I'm not concerned about what the people at work think about my hair. I'm professional, I do my work, and my hair has nothing to do with that. When friends or acquaintances have questions about my hair, I answer them matter-of-factly. I don't think, as I did in the past, that they don't like my hair, and are asking questions out of disgust. I realize that it's something that most may not have seen, and are simply curious. When a guy in the grocery store stares at me, I don't automatically think he's looking at my hair. I think he's looking at ME. LOL. When my husband tries to touch my hair, I don't shy away, I let him touch away.

At any rate, I know some people don't come here for my thoughts, ha ha. Here are some pics. The hair's still moving along.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Caring about what other people think

I may have talked about this before, but I think I will mention it again. Often I get questions or comments about my hair saying "Does your husband like it?" "What do the people at work say about your dreads?" "Man, I couldn't go [to church, the supermarket, some other public place] with my hair looking like that. People would look at me like I was crazy." "My mom tells me that she doesn't like locks, and that they're dirty, so I took them down." and I could go on and on.

Of course I am aware of possible perceptions of me because of the dreads. However, I'm not going to let those perceptions rule my life, I just keep them in mind, depending on my objectives of certain things in my life. For example, my job. I'm a software tester for a large computer company. I don't interact with customers. I just interact with other testers, developers, project managers, my management, etc. My look is not a part of my job there (I'm not a model, after all), so who cares what they think. Some people walk around in shorts in the summer (with their pale legs and varicose veins). These 40 something chicks trying to recapture their youth are in short skirts (which I think is a bit much). I know a dude there with a mohawk (yes, a mohawk). One biker dude wears entirely too tight jeans with his leather jackets. Combovers abound here. Bad perms and weird hair colors are not unknown. There is actually a girl that I always instant message, email or call instead of going to her office because her office actually stinks. And I'm supposed to be concerned because my hair is in freeform locks? No, I am not. When I see someone that looks a little different, I may laugh to myself, then do whatever work I have to do with them and/or keep it moving. And I'm sure others do the same with me. Now, if my look were somehow a part of my performance, that would be another thing (i.e. I'm a salesperson in HickTown USA, and I can't get any sales because people look at my hair, hold their nose, then slam the door in my face). But then again, I don't see myself working in that kind of job because control over my look is important to me. And when I have to search for a new job in the future, they're going to be seeing my hair in the interview because I want to know that they won't have a problem with it.

As far as my husband liking my hair or not, that's a funny thing, because I do want to feel attractive to him. Luckily, he likes my hair. Or maybe not so luckily, because when I met him, I had natural hair, and he told me that he loves natural hair, and wouldn't want it any other way. That's part of the reason I dated him in the first place. And while we dated, before we got married, I did different things with my hair (cornrows, twists, and even freeform locks) and he didn't have a problem with any of it. So I knew for sure that he wasn't blowing smoke when he said he loves natural hair. Natural hair is very important to me, so I chose someone that loves natural hair, so my hair isn't an issue in our relationship. Now, if I had a relaxer when we got married, then later decided that I wanted locks, then maybe we would have had an issue. Thankfully, that's not my situation.

Social situations are another time when people sometimes care. It's interesting. For me, my friends may not think it's the best hairstyle I've ever had (I've had compliments when I wore small twists or small box braids, but no compliments on my dreads). But they are still my friends. And it goes both ways. Two close friends I have here in New York have relaxers, and I still love them. I'm not saying nothing on anything I'm sure they did on purpose regarding their look. And if I'm at a party or something and some idiot I don't know turns up their nose at my hair, well I really don't want to be around them anyway. But then again, I'm not really a social person anyway, so I don't have to deal with that either.

And you know what? When I want a professional look, or don't want my hair to be distracting, I can do that with my hair. I think a headband ties my look together nicely. I can't wait until I can do 1 ponytail or a bun, because I think those are good looks as well. And if I'm in a situation where I really don't want so show my hair, there's always a headwrap (although I don't know what kind of situation that would be, and it hasn't happened to me yet).

I really have the feeling that I am in charge of how I look, and I'd be really resentful worrying all the time about what other people have to say about my appearance. That's not to say that I don't take pride in my appearance. I do. I groom myself, dress, etc. But I have the final say on how I want to look.


Here's an example about caring too much about what someone else thinks. I recently saw my mom. Why, oh why was I trying to hide my nose ring from her for the first hour? I was making sure she was on one side of me, and talking to her without looking at her. Ridiculous! First of all, I am 31 years old, and out of the house, with a husband and child of my own. Second of all, this is not the first piercing I've had, and I've done other things that I know she wouldn't care for (not going to church, tattoo on wrist, etc). The crazy thing is, I know she saw it, and she didn't even comment (she probably realizes by now that I go my own way).

Monday, June 09, 2008

8 months

I was bored (and SOMEBODY asked for an update) so I decided to upload a few pictures.

Okay, yes or no on wearing two ponytails to my company picnic this week.

Umm ... yeah, I think I want to at least act like I tried to have a semi straight part. And that one longer lock is quite irritating to look at.

My hair is still very afro, but locked at the same time. Sometimes I'm tired of the afro part, but here it looks cool to me.

And of course I had to clean my mirror before taking these last two pics. Note the glass cleaner in the lower portion of the pic and my lack of a smile.