Saturday, March 24, 2018

Loc Journey no. I | Don't Touch My Hair

After years of consideration and much research, I finally decided to take the plunge and loc my hair. Before I get into the reasoning behind this choice, please understand that it is a very personal journey that I wanted to document. Also, every update in my loc journey will have a song attached. By the time this series is complete, I'll have a full playlist, which will essentially be a compilation of the songs I listened to while I was doing my hair. That being said, today's theme is obviously titled after a relatively popular song by Solange, "Don't Touch My Hair".

March 22, 2018 marks day one of my loc journey. Well technically, March 18th was day one and the 22nd was the reset. After the first day, my curls started to unravel. It didn't take well with the products I started with. Frustrated, I was forced to start over twice, the third and final time opting to go with a smarter technique and flowing with my natural curl pattern. Third times a charm, because this time came out exactly the way I wanted. It's important to note that I was also intentional about not going to a loctitian or a loc professional, because I think it's really important for me to be able to maintain and get to know my hair in a way I've never had to previously.

Although I've had natural hair my entire life, having locked hair will be a different level of understanding myself. Each day, it will force me to look in the mirror and make a conscious, daily decision to let my mane just be in the beginning stages, when it's not the best time to manipulate the hair into different styles, so I can already tell having locs will test my patience on days I'll miss being able to simply slap some conditioner in to make my hair look a certain way.  At the same time, I admire wild, unruly, disrespectful ass hair so much, which is why I'm choosing to semi-freeform and letting my hair do what it wants to do. I'm actually extremely curious to find out what it does on its own. With semi-freeforming, I'll only be dedicating a substantial amount of time to my hair once a month, therefore, it's pretty low maintenance on a day to day basis.

Aside from vanity reasons, locs fit my lifestyle. From a cultural standpoint, I am so damn proud to be a woman of color. Essentially, I am passionate about what it means to be black.  I want to give my crown a chance to make all those beliefs loud and clear without me saying a word. The way I see it, this is just another opportunity to express myself. Not sure how relevant it is to mention that I have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle and I try to be as close to using natural products (on hair, skin, and otherwise) as much as possible. For reasons beyond that, it is my hope that the journey with my hair will prove to be about something much deeper than just hair; that it gives me the courage and confidence to see what makes me beautiful in a brand new light. 

As far as my family is concerned, not sure what kind of reaction I'll get from the people I love the most, especially my mom's side. Historically, Dominicans struggle with embracing their own blackness. Unfortunately, it's something that's prevalent with many of my family members. It's not that they don't like being black or even that they deny it. There is, however, a standard of beauty that says if it's not bone straight or neatly tucked away, it's not pretty. It's not acceptable. It's not professional nor presentable.  Growing up in the states, you'll be surprised by what many native islanders think of people with locs, referring to them as vagabonds and/or rastas. While I do respect the Rastafarian religion, lifestyle, whatever you want to call it, I am in no way, shape or form making that kind of statement. 

No one wants people to assume certain things about them based on their outside appearance - and in a perfect world, they wouldn't - but I already know they will. And it's not just a Caribbean thing; this kind of behavior happens across the board and throughout the globe. There are whole corporations that blatantly refuse to hire people with locs. There are policies in place that prohibit people from having them or any natural hairstyle for that matter. While I am fully aware of those things, what other people think rarely has very little impact on the choices I make for myself. If anything, it will give me a chance to better align myself with careers paths and people who truly accept me for who I am. My hair does not define me - never has, never will - despite society's prejudices, politics, and preferences. Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion that we all have the capacity within ourselves to be whoever we want to be in this world without conforming to what this world wants me/you/us to be. 

So day one was Thursday, today is day three. Thursday was honestly a struggle, but Friday I felt empowered and sexy and free, which had a lot to do with a full on spa treatment to start my day and receiving my first set of custom waist beads in the mail. That same feeling lingered in my space when I woke up today. It's only the beginning. There's still so much to learn and I look forward to how we evolve from this point on. Lesson 1: When you feel good on the inside, it radiates on the outside organically. When you look good on the outside, it positively affects how you feel on the inside.

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