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Loc:d

by Maervel about a month ago in hair
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The road to starting, embracing and loving my loc journey

Loc:d
Photo by IIONA VIRGIN on Unsplash

The first time I willingly cut my hair was 7 years ago.

On a warm Sunday afternoon after family lunch, I slipped out of the door after a quick goodbye to my parents and drove myself off to my friend's home. Only she knew what plans I had that day and it was better left at that. The ride there was filled with as much anticipation as nervousness. I had doubts for sure, but I was fully committed to this and had zero plans of turning around. At my friend's home we wasted little time on pleasantries and got right down to business. A hair band held my thick, long, silky relaxed hair in a pony tail. 'Hey, this is the last chance, are you sure about this?', she asked me, taking a step back to allow me that chance to pick up my stuff and leave. 'I'm ready', I said, taking one last long look at the hair I had nurtured, pampered and adored for the past 12 years before the scissors appeared. It took all of five minutes and there I sat with the newly detached ponytail in my hands and the remnants of relaxed hair atop the new growth staring back at me through the hand-held mirror. 'Not bad', I thought to myself as she proceeded to shape the hair until it was mostly all natural, only allowing myself to feel a momentary pang of loss. There! It was done! I had finally done this after months of contemplation and planning.

By Prince Akachi on Unsplash

they would wait till they were 40, married and already with children if they were me

Prior to taking the decision to go all in, being the impressionable person I was, I had gone around asking for people's opinions. 'Do you think this will look good on me?', 'I'm thinking of going natural, what do you think?'. I had asked friends, family and well-known strangers like my hairdresser, and the response had been almost equivocal, 'why would you want to do that?'. Many had gone on to say it would not look good on me, they would wait till they were 40, married and already with children if they were me or just simply that it looks disheveled and ugly. I took these comments seriously, sometimes seeing what they saw as well - disheveled, unprofessional, ugly, rebellious and only for a certain mature and 'bold' type. Then the break-up had happened.

By Ross Findon on Unsplash

They say everyone experiences a heartbreak at some point in their life but no one frankly expects one. I had surely not been expecting anyone to swoop into my life and then swoosh right out before I could blink twice. The fact that it had been so short-lived did nothing to save me from the well-known 'break-up hair' stage. This was the final push, the answer to all the questions I had been asking all those people all those months. Standing here on the other side of the breakup, miles away from the person that had told me that he considered the whole natural hair thing just a trend, a fad, and frankly thought girls with it looked unruly and dirty, I was finally seeing that I didn't need the world's opinion or permission to do what I wanted to do or to be happy for that matter. It was a sort of liberation note to myself, as much a liberation from others’ thoughts, as indeed a liberation from that messed-up relationship. And I hadn't felt more free in a long while than I did afterwards.

The shocked faces and questions had met me, as I had expected, as I started to move around and carry on life in my new look. Not before long however, those had gradually moved into a state of acceptance and to an interesting extent of admiration even, as some started to talk about considering going natural as well. The irony! Who would have thought! If nothing at all, that would be enough to remind me that I was on a good path if I ever had days where I woke up wishing for my chemically relaxed hair back. Thankfully I never had those days, I even amazed myself with how much I was enjoying the short and natural hair. Truth is, with the exception of high school, where everyone had to wear very short natural haircuts, for as long as I could remember I had had long hair, silky - made so by the chemical relaxer which altered the coily hair into the fine and straight strands it’d be in until new growth appeared. The burns from the relaxer and the long hours spent under hood hairdryers just adding to the headache of it all. Saturdays and many weekends had been spent at the hairdresser’s getting that perm or fresh braids in for the decent look during the week. And now, none of those mattered. Talk about liberating! And as I allowed my hair to try on new things, I allowed my whole self to do so as well.

By Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

And for the past seven years, I have rocked this hair, learning all there is to know about it to make it look and feel great. I have learned that what started off as me accepting and wanting to look as I was created could easily translate to political statements for others and navigating those waters alone require great knowledge and skill. I have learned even more that people's opinions are usually just that, opinions. I set the precedence for how others see and treat me. The journey starts from within and as long as I know, understand, accept and love me, the rest of the world will catch up. And if they don't, they probably were never meant to. So what next?

Anyone growing and nurturing their natural coils would know how much time one needs to commit to ensure healthy hair. I am all for this and yet as life presents fewer opportunities to make this time possible, the thought of wearing the hair only in a constant bun hasn't exactly been fun. Cue locs!

Much like the loose natural hair, locs have had their fair share of noses turned up and disapproving looks and comments from the rest of the world. And yet, a closer look at the ins and outs of it is adequate to understand that many come from a place of ignorance and a sheer unwillingness to see anything other than what they are used to as 'normal'. And just like willingly starting my natural hair journey, I have done the background research, asked the questions I need to and done the preparation required. I have stepped into the pond with both feet and looking forward to the thrill of the journey ahead. I am taking as many pictures as I can and reminding myself of the journey as I go. I am excited and looking forward to the process and the thrill of it all, loving all the phases and in-betweens. And maybe soon, on this side of the world, one more person will come to know and understand that this too is hair, this too is 'normal'.

By IIONA VIRGIN on Unsplash

The first time I willingly cut my hair was seven years ago, and oh, what a ride it's been.

hair

About the author

Maervel

Long before Medicine sought my heart and time, words stood by me and held me in a sweet warm embrace. And here again, they remind me that we are far from done on this journey.

Observer|Thinker|Feeler|Writer

Maybe someday I'll love again.

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