Honestly, I had run out of options.
It was either go back to a relaxer or loc my hair.
I went natural in 2009. Not intentionally.
At the time, I was still getting relaxers put in my hair but I had gone a few months without one. I was loving the fact that my hair had gotten to the point where I could still manage it without slapping a chemical in it every six to eight weeks.
I had been talking with one of my best friends extensively about the possibility of wearing my hair in its natural state. She knew how much I exercised and she also knew, as a cosmetologist, how much damage I was causing to my hair by relaxing it. You could see the damage it had caused over the years. When I went to visit her that following January and she took me to an appointment with the lady who took care of her hair.
After playing in it a while, the cosmetologist looked at me and told me that I did not have many relaxed ends left. She explained how it would make sense to cut off the ends and go natural. Since I had been contemplating it, I felt ready. I told her to go ahead and do it.
The results were amazing! At first.
I loved how my hair looked when I left the shop. It was straight and shiny. You could not even tell that I was natural. Until I took a shower that evening.
After I finished bathing, I took off my shower cap and what I saw staring in the mirror cause me to let out a loud gasp.
My hair had literally shriveled up. The straight, lucious locks I had were gone. In its place were tiny curls. I panicked. I called my best friend in a tizzy and she calmly relayed to me that what I was seeing was called shrinkage. In the natural form, my hair would shrink when it encountered moisture.
I was devasted because I did not know this while I was getting my ends chopped off. This was not part of my plan.
However, it was only day one so I figured things would get better.
Well let me tell you what happened and what I discovered.
In its natural state, my hair is very coarse and tightly coiled. It soaks up moisture like a sponge. It is difficult to comb through. It requires a lot of patience and attention. It does not hold styles well. And it would grow to a certain length and then break off.
Yet I received compliments on top of compliments when my hair was in this form.
I would spend sometimes two hours on a twist out, only to take it a loose the next morning and not be happy with the results. I spent hundreds of dollars on products for my hair. I spent hours watching videos and chatting in groups.
I would see all these styles I wanted to try but knew I could not. I would see all these women with hair types similar to mine thriving. I would see all these women whose hair I wanted mine to look like but no matter what I tried, it did not work.
I was frustrated.
But I was determined to not give up or in.
So I worked with what I had and over the course of six years, things begin to change. My coils loosened some. My hair started retaining some length. And I was not spending hours upon hours on my hair.
However, I was tired. Tired of the same hairstyles. Tired of wishing for growth. Tired of that hamster wheel.
My mama suggested in 2014 that I loc my hair. She had done it as well as my aunt. They both thought it was the perfect option for me.
Until that point, loc’ing my hair had never crossed my mind. And I know why. It is such a permanent decision. There is no turning back once you get started. Of course, you can cut the locs out or have them combed out but the likely hood of the latter taking place was zero. And the likely hood of the former taking place was zero.
Plus I was scared. Scared I would not like them. Scared they would not look right on me. Scared I would regret the decision.
But I figured I had nothing to lose so I made an appointment to do a consultation with the lady who maintains my mama’s and aunt’s locs (Hey Sunni!) to discuss my options.
I was very nervous that day but Sunni had been forewarned by my mother, so she worked diligently to calm my nerves. I was with her for about an hour and during that time we spent may 20 minutes talking about my hair. We disccussed my hair journey, childhood things, life currently, etc. All things that had played a part in how I felt about my hair.
I left her house that day without an appointment but knew I would be giving it a lot of thought. I thought on it for nearly nine months when I finally made the decision to proceed. Oddly enough, when I removed my last set of braids from head, my hair was in the state I had been praying for the whole time.
Real funny Lord!
On February 11, 2016, I sat down in Sunni’s chair and allowed her to begin cafting the biggest transformation to my looks as I had ever had. It took over twelve hours and to be compltely honest, I was a roller coaster of emotions about the result.
My hair was little! Very wittle.
It was not what I expected but there was no turning back. Sunni explained to me that they would have to grow and develop just like my hair had done all the previous years and that I needed to be patient.
I had become more confident in who I was so instead of sulking or being subconscious about my look, I embraced it. I wore big earrings, lipstick and I walked with my held high. Even though I still had my doubts, I was not going to let people pick up on that.
I had begun to settle in comfortably with my new found freedom when March 12, 2016 happened – the day I was bitten on my face by my neighbor’s dog. My face required four stitches.
So now on top of trying to embrace my locs, I have to watch my healing take place daily. It was a challenging spot to be in. Even more challenging because there was no hair to hide behind.
I had to deal with the emotions that came with loc’ing my hair and the emotions that followed the trauma I had suffered.
But I did what I did best, I pushed through. I embraced the uncertainty, little hair and healing. I documented it, shared my story and tried to encourage others.
As the months passed on, I begin to notice the change in my locs. They were forming nicely and starting to drop. They had personality. They had bounce. And they were very low maintenance! Like how low can you go low. My routine is simple – wash them, plait or french braid them – sometimes I would do nothing to do and then let them air dry. That is literally all I do.
Oh and I oil my scalp occasionally.
On Tuesday, I went to see Sunni for my routine maintenance. It had been 11 weeks since my last visit. As usual we chatted, laughed and shared our current state of affairs. And when my time under the dryer had come to an end and I stood up to look in the mirror, I did the same thing I did the day I went natural. I let out a gasp.
I could not believe how long my hair had gotten. In the span of almost three months. The growth was stunning!
And so was I.
As I bounced out of the shop that afternoon, a huge smile was plastered on my face. This was me. Joyful. Healed. Determined. Authentic. Confident. Sassy.
And my mama was right when she said what she said – you are going to love them.
Indeed Mumphrey. Indeed.