Saturday, 15 August 2009

In the beginning there was hair

I made the decision to go natural shortly after graduating college in 2001, after moving to Lexington KY, yee haw!. My hair never agreed with perm, no matter how long the perm was in, or how strong it claimed to be, my hair and it never came to a mutual understanding.

Perm was suppose to be a negotiator with naps. It spoke the language that was meant to make the hair relax.…pssh all perm did was piss my hair off it seemed. I wanted permed hair that was flat and well mannered, what I thought was sleek and sophisticated. My issue with my hair was that is was too thick to achieve the look I desired. I wanted hair that could easily be wrapped and styled, hair that would dry after 30 minutes under a dryer. My hair, because of its thickness, wasn’t having it. My hair with perm in it was still big, it had motion, but it wasn’t the motion that was desirable. It went anywhere it wanted, haha . It had volume like Oprah’s hair, but erm I was in my early 20’s and looking like Oprah wasn’t in my top 5. I continued to put perm in my hair because I was trying to fit it into a mold that it simply couldn’t and wouldn’t fit it because of its density, almost like trying to put a square peg into a round hole.
When I would get it done I was never happy. People always wanted to put waterfalls and freezes and stack my hair up to the sky. Um, I work in a professional setting, I am not bout to compete in a hair show. Step away with the thunder bolt stencil and glitter spray paint. I want it FLAT and plain and just normal. I would go home, and flat iron and wrap it until the cows came home and it still wasn’t flat, well mannered, sleek or sophisticated.
When I first big chopped, I told the stylist, a man that had been doing my hair for 6 months, to take it off and he looked at me all sorts of funny. “You want to cut it all off?” Apparently this was serious business, he asked if I was okay and told me if I was going through some things I shouldn’t take it out on my hair. “Are you sure you want to do this? So many women would kill for your hair” Boy, please. Either you cut it or I will do it, where are the scissors? He figured I was determined to walk out of their perm-less and got to cutting.
The woman in the chair next to me looked at my hair as it hit the floor and said “Girl, you are so brave” Man, whatever, anyone that knows me knows I have NO loyalty to my hair. I would go so far to say that I abused my hair, almost daring it to fall out. Once it was super damaged because of careless “highlights” that left my hair looking like burned up hay. That was the first time a significant amount of my hair needed to be cut off and I didn’t mourn it. It might sound ungrateful but I never took length that seriously, it will grow back and if it doesn’t, "I would still be cute" was my mantra. Length doesn’t make me a woman..but that is another blog all together. After he cut my hair he had the nerve to fix his mouth to tell me that we could put a texturizer in it. Dude? What part of no-chemicals do you not understand. Perhaps he was trying to keep his money coming in from my pocket or perhaps he was really that clueless, either way, he got the ill screw face and I never saw him again.
What actually made me go natural? Well, I realized I and others labeled my hair “challenging” simply because it was thick, so I decided to accept my thickness and go with a lifestyle more suitable to thickness, a lifestyle that welcomed volume. The closest I came to being satisfied with my hair when I was permed was when I discovered the straw set which quickly evolved to the rod set. My hair was full and curly and it seemed to flourish in a curly fro. I got to a point where I wore them non stop but to rod set all my hair took hours sometimes 6 hands and tons of time under the dryer, why not go natural and have a 24/7 straw set? Instead of chasing after a flat creamy crack dream I accepted my hair in all its fullness and welcomed its natural state.
I became a natural hair guru, wash and goes, two strand twist, twist out, puffs, braid outs. I never actually knew what my real hair texture felt like until I was 23. When I was a little girl I wasn’t even permitted to touch my hair cause I would mess it up. “Keep your hands out of your hair, you just got it done” “don’t play in your hair, it will get all tangled and then you will be crying when I comb it” It was like I was discovering a new me. When my loose hair discovery tour was over I decided to get locks. There were more boo and hisses from the peanut gallery, it seemed everyone who had a mouth had an opinion. I realized long ago that when people are talking you out of something, they are just trying to re-convince themselves, validate their own decisions or lack of action. What about your job, are you gonna find a man with your hair like that, you will get acne, you know you cant wash your hair right, only shiftless loser and vagrants have dreadlocks, they just aren’t cute, they are not feminine, and so on and so forth. Guess what, some people were converted to loving my hair, some people like it at a distance “it’s cute on you but not for me”, and some people still never understood or accepted my hair choices. Such is life.
When I initially got my locs started I told the woman I wanted them smaller. The woman informed me because of my curl pattern smaller locs were not attainable with her chosen loc method. Man, what did I know? I bought it hook line and sinker and went ahead with palm rolled locs. I enjoyed them and enjoyed my journey and as soon as they were locked I was dyeing and curling and crimping them like a champ. In retrospect it seems the time flew by. I documented it all in fotki, got hair ideas from all over the web, and became more interested in the nappy hair community.
As my locs got longer, they also got heavier. They were healthy and thick but with that thickness I was limited in what I could do with them. I got to a point where I wanted something different. I had known of sisterlocks/microlocks for a long time, I loved the size and pictures of them. When I decided what I wanted, I knew what I had to do and I knew my traditional locs had to go. I contemplated “saving” the length for about 10 minutes. I soaked one up in conditioner and got a rat tail comb and tried to undo it. After taking down half of the lock I was like SIKE, where are the scissors??? It was too much effort for me, and I recalled my mantra, its hair, it will grow back and I will still be cute. I cut them off in my bathroom one February Sunday afternoon. I didn’t cry or mourn them but I couldn’t throw them out, if that makes sense, they were and are significant but just not what was right for me anymore. I kept them in my closest in a zip lock bag until destiny, life or the universe told me what to do with them.
I had my sisterlocks installed May 30th in London. The process took two consultants only 8 hours to sisterlock my 4 inch long hair into small medium and large sisterlocks. I can’t say I am overjoyed with the process, the beginning is always rocky. What I can say is, I appreciate the current length of my hair. My first set was started with about 3 years of growth or something like that. So I skipped the short phase. I do enjoy this length although it comes with its challenges. The closest city to me with an abundance of consultants is London and it chaps my ass that I have to fly there to get retightenings but I knew that all along. I don't have to my hair done by a classically trained sisterlock virtuoso. If you know how to interlock with a crochet tool, nappylock tool or paperclip I would let you do my hair but sadly I haven’t located the hotbed of sisterlock bootleggers in Berlin yet.

Be sure to follow me on twitter @nicolenewblack


  1. Perhaps you and Audrey's Pleasure could help each outher out. I'm not sure what part of Germany she's in, but her ass is also chapped that there is no consultant in Germany. Great narrative, by the way.

    I think natural hair suits you sooooo much better than perms. loved you with your TWA!

  2. Thanks for stopping by! i`am so happy you made the decision to go natural! you will not regret it! Your pictures are beautiful! I will surely follow your blog!