Thursday, April 12, 2007

Reflections of a Liberated Dread

As a black woman I’ve been through some serious stuff with my hair…I got my 1st perm when I was 7 years old, and wore them until I began to get ugly head sores from the chemicals when I was about 15. I then went to wearing braids exclusively for 2-3 years and took them out after all the perm had gone only to perm them again for my junior prom…back to braids until…senior prom. Going to college I went right back into the safe haven that was braids, and then in my sophomore year I got bold enough to rock an afro and thus began my napptural life. Since then I’ve loc’d my hair and 19 months in I’m still loving it.

As a member of I’ve learned a lot about maintaining my locs (which I now freeform, and do next to nothing to – I highly recommend it), and I’ve participated in some discussions on the dread aesthetic as well. Yet today while reading a particular post about a newbie’s issue with puffy roots I realized just how little we as black women know about our hair.

Sure, I was one of those women who just didn’t know how to do my hair when I was a permie – all I wore were wraps and ponytails, with the occasional flip thrown in from time to time. I simply didn’t know how to take care of or style my own hair. Once I went napptural, I got to become more involved with my hair as I’d wash it and style it on my own, and now as a dread I’ve learned so much more about my hair from doing absolutely nothing. It’s an enlightening and liberating experience to not feel bound by what’s on top of our head. Sometimes I think black women love our hair so much that we fear it, thinking that anything that we might do to it would ruin it, and so we leave it up to the ‘professionals.’

But my goodness, my sistahs if only we took the time to get to know ourselves and our own hair…just imagine how much money we could save, how much peace we could find, and how much more confidence we’d have! Why is it that we still, even as nappturals, cling to this mentality that uniform and manicured manes are the way to go? Our hair is naturally wild and free, why can’t we accept it? I used to go to a loctitian to get my locs maintained because I wasn’t sure I could do it on my own. I also liked how the uniform locs look, so I understand that as well.

But it is just so LIBERATING to have your hair and be proud of it and feel sexy in it even when you think it’s not looking its best. Whether my hair is short, or long, super curly and thick, or locs doing their own thing…napptural hair is and can be only as beautiful as the person rocking the style is. If you’re not comfortable within yourself, there ain’t no way a new ‘do is going to help. I think we need to free ourselves of the standards that society has placed upon us and the standards we place upon ourselves. God has already done a wonderful job when He made each and every one of us, so we need to say thanks to Him for it and go forth and be fly! lol

Seriously, I suppose the reason why I’m even bothering to say all of this is because it just hit how unaware I and a good deal of my sistren are of our own hair and how we can be scare ourselves into a box when it comes to hair care and styling. Embrace that untamable mane of yours and don’t be afraid to flaunt it wherever you might be. Yes, people will always have something negative to say or some just may not understand, but that should never deter you from being proud of who you are, how you look, or what it is you represent. If you’re napptural or if you’re a permie, take the time to acquaint yourself with your hair, and if you’re a permie I hope that one day you’ll get to experience the freedom that can come from wearing the hair that God originally placed on your head (chemical free!) and I hope that all of us can look upon each other and see our own beauty reflected in the eyes of our sisters.

Peace & Many Blessings


That Ambiguous Look In Your Eye said...

i really feel you about the natural thing, but when you mentioned something about uniform and manicured manes i got to thinking. see, most white women with super straight hair dont just roll out of bed without combing their hair (making it uniform). now while i am anti-relaxers, i would not go so far as to say that a person locking their hair has to twist it themselves or not twist it at all so as not to comply with this uniform standard. see, because we're not really free if we're not free to do what we WANT to do. conforming to one person's [limited] ideal of freedom is not freedom. it's being bound to and defined by a statement that is not your own.

the long and short of it: seeing a loctician doesn't make a dread a conformist. just like a white woman paying to get a hair cut doesn't make her a conformist. sure she could put some scissors in her hand and start cutting her hair, but maybe she doesn't know how or care to.

mscocontxus said...

Nice post...insightful, more people should be so free.

mscocontxus said...

Very insightful, although I wouldn't say that folks wanting manicured locks are conforming. I just think more would benefit if each of us would really learn about our hair. And that includes many naturals out there that are still flat ironing & burning their heads with pressing combs. I often just shake my head at most of the posts I see on various sites.

CongoBrava said...

wow, it's nutty that i posted this joint almost a year ago...

realize this post was more so about the fear that Black women have of doing their hair versus looking uniform. some folks ARE a slave to the uniform and 'neat' dreadlocks look. that's just a fact. but i wasnt saying because you had locks you HAVE to maintain them yourself, im saying that locks or not, you shouldnt be AFRAID to take care of your own hair from time to time. learn how to style it on your own. just do those little things instead of always relying on someone else to do it.

i never stated going to a loctitian makes one a i dont know where youre getting that one from. my concern is/was the fact that so many of us dont trust ourselves to do our own hair. ive seen this on the nappturality site and from women i know personally. i myself went to a loctitian for my entire 1st year, and it wasnt till i stopped that i realized how hesitant i was to deal with my dreads.

its not about being a conformist or not. its about knowing yourself. THAT's the liberation of which i speak.