I’ve never had a true loving relationship with my hair. It’s mostly been the thing that lives on top of my head and just sits there waiting to be cleaned, conditioned, and manipulated into different shapes and forms. As a child, I probably liked it most even if I didn’t always embrace it. I was not too fond of my legs going limp from sitting in a chair for hours but I recall loving the different hair accessories – colorful bolitas, bright scrunchies, rainbow rubber bands, gold beads – and hairstyles. There were the braids with zig-zag parts, the high bun with bangs, the twists that left it in swirls and the blow-outs that transformed into cloud puffs with the humid air. As I grew into my teens, though, cultural norms and the consumption of beauty standards in mass media swayed me from keeping it natural and subconsciously influenced my decision to relax it.
At that time, I was really looking forward to relaxing my hair. I wanted straight hair that would last more than an hour, a smoother doobie, a slicker ponytail, and more supposed “manageable” hair. While I achieved these things with relaxed hair, it also meant I stepped into the realm of hair salons, which did nothing to bring me closer to loving my hair. My experiences in hair salons spanned a wide gamut and mostly fell in the range of okay and plain bad. The great experiences were few and even with them, I don’t remember ever feeling as if I couldn’t wait to get to the hair salon and do my hair. It was more of a burden than an exercise in self-care: I had to make sure to be there at 8 a.m. so I could be out before nightfall; I had to decide whether I wanted to expend energy on principle and argue against surge pricing for my thick, dense hair or just dish out the cash; I had to choose between turning up the volume on my walkman or listening to the chatter about the thousand products I “needed” to soften my texture. For a whole lot of years, I subscribed to this routine and got my hair done regularly for the sake of keeping it healthy and in good condition. In reality, my hair was not super unhealthy but it was not at its healthiest state either. I had some heat damage from constantly having it blow-dried and flat-ironed, as well as breakage from the tugs and pulls of incorrect detangling methods. Tired of the same groove, almost two decades later, I decided to revert to my natural hair.
Transitioning out of relaxed hair coincided with my interest in holistic wellness and was an overall positive experience for me. It wasn’t super overwhelming to deal with my tight curls and I appreciated having it back in its natural state. However, after eight years, the time it took to manage it was time better spent elsewhere; the money spent on a million different products to only find one that worked seemed like a waste; and protective styling didn’t spare me from sitting for hours at hair salons. Plus, it was a struggle for me to self-create a variety of styles. I’m simply not that well-versed in the hair department! Add two daughters with heads full of curls to the mix and my focus shifted to their manes and less so on mine. Towards the end of being a loose natural, as I started focusing more on holistic living, I also wanted to do the same with my hair. I felt the next best thing for me was to let my hair grow out of my scalp and do its own thing. Though I am not free-forming my locs, I still feel a sense of freedom and cherish the simplicity in my new routine rather than feeling burdened by it.
My decision to loc my hair is in alignment with accepting myself as I am. As I grow and expand in my holistic and spiritual journey, I’m looking forward to speaking of my hair not as a distant “thing” or a chore but more so as a part of me that I love and fully embrace in all its essence.