Thursday, 13 August 2009

How far would you go for sisterhood?

black woman with afro cartoon
Artwork by Moneypenny

Recently on a Facebook group called Sisterlocked and Loving it, someone posted a topic about a woman who had 5 year old sisterlocks and had lost them due to undergoing chemo therapy. The poster asked should the woman’s consultant reinstall her locks for free. It wasn’t clear to me if the poster was a casual observer, the consultant or the woman who lost her locks. She wanted to know how much is too much and how to give without giving too much.

I was of the opinion that no, the consultant should not reinstall the sisterlocks for free. Not because I am a selfish heartless money grubbing witch but because I don’t think there should an expectation of charity from the consultant. I guess the use of the term “should” really shat in my cap. I would expect sisterhood from, I don’t know, my actual sisters; friends, family, peers that know and love me and have my health and well being on the forefront of their minds, not my consultant who is a business woman. I thought that perhaps the woman’s nearest and dearest could take up a collection to pay the consultant for the install, isn’t that more a win-win? Wouldn’t that be the epitome of sisterhood? It would help the client and support the business of the consultant. I know most people are struggling to make ends meet in these economic times but wouldn’t that also extend to the consultant?

Now the consultant could offer to do it for free, of course, but why should she? Would she be a bad “sister” because she expects to make money from providing a service? I am friends with many women that have put their hands in my hair but at the end of the day, when I sit in their chair, it is a business relationship. In fact best friends of mine have handled my hair and terms of payment or compensation have been addressed from jumpstreet. The range of compensation could range from “nah, girl don’t worry” to “anything you can give would be appreciated” to the quoting of an actual price. Sisterlocks or doing hair is not a hobby. I might be merging my pet peeves and drawing parallels that don’t really exist but it really bothers me when people abuse personal relationships with service providers. People let their personal circumstances block their consideration of someone else’s personal circumstance. Now losing one’s hair to cancer is a big one. I have the utmost sympathy for this woman or anyone in a similar situation but if I was her consultant sympathy would not make me spend 20 hours installing sisterlocks for free. I agree it would be an amazing gift, but why do we expect so much from the ones so distant from us, is it easier to accept them going without? That is what installing sisterlocks for free would be doing, asking this consultant to sacrifice not only her time but a significant amount of money.

Hair care specialists provide us with so much. Walking out of a salon with a fresh do can really add some pep to one’s step. Not only do we feel cute but more than likely our stylist has served as a confidant and gossip guru during the time of our appointment. Not only did we undergo a physical transformation but an emotional one has also transpired, in that chair we shed tears from sadness and from laughter, we talk about politics and philosophy, children and lovers. What we pay for a GOOD stylist is sometimes not enough compared to what we get from the total experience if you really think about it. It might seem like they are having a grand ol’ time but doing hair is laborious and physically intensive. Not to mention the operating cost to sustain a profitable business. Why would anyone not want to pay these people for their services? If you think I love good hair care providers don’t get me started on waitresses and waiters! I have an appreciation for the really awesome ones because too many times I have had negative experiences.

I believe that charity begins at home and if anyone should sacrifice the service provider should be the last one on the list. I am sure there are amazing stories of consultants working for free or at discounted rates for clients in difficult circumstances, you guys are rockstars! As some of you know, I recently cut off my 5 year old traditional locs. They were sitting in my closest in a bag and one day I got an email. A woman who is a fotki member had a friend who lost her hair to cancer. This friend also had traditional locs and was now recovering. She wanted to get locs and her length back but did not want to go the synthetic route. She found a hair dresser that could attach locs, all she needed was the hair. Now this friend searched the internet looking for potential donors and she found me. I had pictures of my big chop with the cut locs sitting on my kitchen counter. She offered money for my hair. I didn’t want money, I just wanted assurance that she would actually use them and if she got them for some reason and didn’t like them, she would not throw them away. The charity in this case came from the friend, who saw a friend in need and wanted to help the best way she could. She invested hours searching and trying to make connections with strangers in hopes of making her good friend’s dream come true. I donated my locs to a woman I have never even spoken to because of her friend’s love. I hope this women from the post on the sisterlock board has a similar experience, a story that ends in a new set of locs weaved together and made possible by the love of her friends and family.

1 comment:

  1. Now that takes locks of love to an entirely dif level. Good for you!!!