Hair in crisis

I have often thought about writing about hair but until today never quite gotten around to it. Now when I first started blogging the majority of my readers were Black because I spent a lot of time in the Black section of the blogosphere but lately I have noticed that many of my readers judging from those who leave comments may not be Black. If that is the case, you may be wondering why the hell am I about to write an entire post about hair. Shit, for black women and our hair I could write an entire book.

Black woman and their hair is not only a serious business but we Black women take out hair pretty seriously. However I am not about to go into a historical piece about hair, nope its just dealing with my hair. See, for the past decade aside from one dye job 6 years ago, I have worn my hair in its natural state. In the late 1990’s, I knew that there was a really good chance that I would be moving to Maine so I started thinking about my hair and how I would manage it. Yep, tis the life of a Black woman…a cross country move to the whitest state immediately makes you wonder about seemingly small things like how the hell will you manage your hair?

See, at that point I went weekly to the salon to get my hair done. On a weekly basis that meant wash, dry and curl and every six weeks I had my relaxer (hair straightener applied) at that point in time I was spending about $200 plus a month to maintain my silky do. My hair looked great but there was also the fact that I really was not skilled at maintaining my own hair.

So I started looking into going natural, that is wearing my hair without any type of chemicals. So I made a slow transition by wearing braids, weaves and eventually just cutting off all my hair in a rather dramatic fashion. I’ll never forget the day I went in for the “Big Chop” at that point I was going to the Van Cleef Salon in Chicago, which as a side note is the same salon the current First Lady Michelle Obama went to for years. As you can imagine, most of the woman at such a salon were not trying to get rid of their silky tress’s and go nappy. In fact the owner of the salon actually came over and watched as my stylist took off all my hair…shit, everyone in the salon stopped what they were doing to watch. For a moment the mood in the salon was almost that of a funeral. To many Black woman cutting off all your hair is viewed with horror and a bit of fascination.

Yet after I watched my hair fall to the ground leaving me with a cool 2 inches at best, I felt a huge relief, it was almost a religious experinece, I felt reborn. That was until I got home and the Spousal Unit came home from work and looked at my head. To his credit he didn’t say much, but the truth is when he went to work that morning he had a wife with a frizzy bob and now my head matched my Dad’s as far as hair length.

The real fun started when I went to visit my parents, my Mom loved it and thought it was cute though she did suggest maybe I should color it which I eventually did, no it was my Dad who lost his mind. I won’t go into the details but for 2 weeks he stopped talking to me, He could not understand why I would cut off all my hair. Eventually he came around and while he is still not a fan of my hair in its natural state at least he keeps his comments to himself.

For almost 5 years I wore my hair fairly short but eventually felt the urge to have dreadlocks something I have always wanted, so after my Mom’s death 5 years ago I started my dreads aka locks. Or rather I had them started at a place in Boston. For the first 6 months I went to Boston every 4-6 weeks to get my locks groomed. However when I got pregnant with girl child I decided the hell with it and went real natural, meaning I started to free-form my locks. In practical terms, it means all I do is wash, condition and separate my locks though many have started to fuse together over the years.

After 5 years I have dreadlocks that are to the middle of my back but because I have not had the new growth re-twisted or groomed, I have a bit of a Afro growing in the midst of my locks. Generally I handle it by keeping my head covered or wearing my hair in a pony tail so the fro portion is less obvious.

Anyway I have reached the point where I am in a bit of a hair crisis, there are days when I want to cut it all off or worse yet relax again. I think part of the hair crisis is because living in Maine, there are very few places a Black woman can go to get her coif done and even less choices for a dread-lock wearing sista.

I could go back to the shop in Boston but I never really cared much for the joint. The folks that run the joint had funky attitudes and their location in Bean-town is less than convenient. It takes me 3.5 hours each way to get to their spot, plus several hours there for a job that is only okay, granted they can do better than me but considering I am paying them, I want an amazing job. This particular place is like the McDonald’s of the dread-lock world in Boston.

So now I sit here with dreams of silky precision cut bobs dancing in my head though I know if I actually went that direction, I would most likely wake up questioning my sanity. To go back to relaxing would mean bondage to the salon at a time when my money is already tight. 

A friend of mine who lives in Brooklyn, has suggested I head down to her area and see her loctitian but money has simply been too tight and now my time is about to get tight with my work schedule. So while I love that idea, its probably not going to happen unless those folks I met with last week about a side project hurry up and sign the contract.

Nope, I have a hair dilemma, I am in crisis and I just don’t know what to do. I imagine to some reading this you may be wondering is this really a big deal? Oh yes, a Black woman with a hair crisis is a huge deal. I mean I have a fucking dread-fro and its just not cute.  Oh well no answers today but thank goodness for scarves and the lovely black and gold one I am wearing today to cover up the dread-fro.

20 thoughts on “Hair in crisis”

  1. Trust me when I say I went through the same exact thing! I’m no longer natural…and I may or may not consider going back, but I’m also not relaxed either…just at the texlaxed stage…the sort of in between. I consider my hair more of a fashion statement, and having worn almost every style there is, I can say that natural was probably the most freeing stage as well as experimental, but as with anything, I soon got tired of it (as well as the dryness and shedding).

    I did however keep an online picture journal of my journey for 2 years as something to look back on (unfortunately I haven’t renewed the subscription or else I’d share the link). But for now, I think I’m sticking with my cornrows. I don’t feel like dealing with any type of hair: natural or relaxed! lol

  2. My dreads are cut off now but for as hot minute I got so damn lazy I had the dead fro too. Something about Maine makes you not want to do shit. But you can seperate them. It’s gonna hurt. There’s gonna be so snapping and crunchy noises but you can do it. If you like you can call me 449-5380 and I can explain it, I hate writing so much.

  3. Shay,

    You can watch loc maintenance videos on youtube. You do not need anything fancy. You can literally just twist the newgrowth with your fingertips. You dont need to roll your palms. Twist all locs in the same direction and pin down with a hair clip. Do this while wet using oil alone or oil and aloe vera gel (health foodstores have it). The gel will keep it tight.

    If I had a video camera I would do a youtube video for you.

    Take the clips out the next day.

  4. Yeah, NP is how I found the first loctitian I went to, sadly Beantown does not have too many options for a loced sista.

  5. hmm, i’m actually kind of horrified that people are telling you to cut your hair. it’s an easy solution, but obviously something you’re not comfortable doing.

    have you hit up nappturality for leads on loctitians in boston?

    since you freeform, it sounds like you just need one good maintenance session (and consultation to learn how to maintain them yourself) to get you back on track. i really hope you can make it down to boston or nyc for that. good luck. (((hugs)))

  6. Hey there!

    I haven’t had a hair post at my blog yet because I know that it would bring a whole “new” audience of hair evangelists out of the woodwork!! *LOL*

    I smiled when I saw OG’s suggestion! *LOL*

    Gurl, I have never seen someone with waist-length dreds get them wrapped into a wig. I guess that takes some extreme creativity….

    I wore my hair in African braids for about seven years…then I got a relaxer and I have been wearing it straight. When I “went natural” no one even noticed the difference so I didn’t get any reactions at all. My friend went completely natural last fall and everyone just stares at her in HORROR. She used to wear her hair relaxed and it was long enough to reach the middle of her back. She cut it into a four inch Afro. Her reason was that she couldn’t afford to maintain chemical styles… $250 per month at the salon!

    As for my advice to you… what is your reason for being natural? If it’s a political statement then I imagine that you want to stay natural – in which case I would suggest that you cut it all off. (My friend went natural for financial reasons.)

    If your natural hair choice is not political then you should consider a chemical style IF you know how to give yourself touch-ups using box kits or if you can learn how to give yourself touch-ups and IF you think you are more attractive with chemical styles. It depends on the person’s facial features which styles give them a younger look, a softer look, a chic look.

    Some look stunning with natural hair like Grace Jones…Michelle Obama looks stunning with chemical styles…so does Oprah.

    A dred-fro is just not cute…you are right… *loooong sigh* Yes, this is a major emergency. Drastic measures are definitely in order. Snip, snip.

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

  7. I have one word for you….wig. Keep it natural invest in a hig quality wig that you can have cut for those days you feel like you want something straight.

    I’ve been natural since 99 (give or take a texturizer here and there. Completely for the last five years). I just braid my hair up in a circle and change hair color and texture whenever I feel different.

    I sometimes take a break and wear my natural hair in a big puff.

    But you are right Black women and our hair if you can understand that relationship then you might get us!


  8. I think you should cut them off and start with new sisterlocks/braidlocks. That way you won’t need the assistance of a loctician. You can do them yourself and after you hair is conditioned and moisturized, it shouldn’t be a problem to box braid it and let it grow.

  9. Oh, Shay! I didn’t understand . . . you want to stay freeformed. Just want some TLC for them.

    (((hugs))) As someone who has cried a whole lot over my locks, I’m sending lots of love your way!!! It is not as easy as “just cut them off”.

    I think you should also do what sweetteach says!!!

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