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. SweetTeach, last night I broke down crying over this. As you know my locks were started because of situations going on in my life and needing to be in a new place. I think I have tried to downplay the emotional/spiritual aspect but it came out…you are right, I do love my locks. Its just that they are at a place where I am ok with not highly groomed locks but right now they are a mess and not in a good way. I don’t think keeping them in a ponytail most days is healthy either.

    I agree the challenge is because I have been freeforming so long, its not so easy to just start latching or palm-rolling. Its one of the reasons I wanted to see Tabeel because I need someone who understands freeformed locks and what I am trying to do.

  2. FYI, I don’t think palm rolling OR latching is an option for you if you are free formed right now. I would go with traditional twisting, which is what I do.

  3. Shay, the thing you neglected to mention is that you LOVE your locks! You don’t want to cut them off, but you feel as if you don’t have options for caring for them in a way you would like. I think you’ll be sad if you cut them for a lot of reasons.

    I know it’s a trek to get here from ME (I’m the Bk friend!), but I think it’s worth it to at least see if you can get them to where you want them to be. If you still are feeling frustrated, you can cut them and start over. It’s really easy to twist your own locks, as you know I’ve been doing them myself, both times around for a total of 13 years now. But to start twisting after free forming is probably a bit of a challenge or learning curve.

    Perhaps Tabeel would be willing to consult with you- if you send her pictures and then you do a phone consult? Just thinking out loud here.

    I am happy to donate some frequent flier miles to your cause (and of course, selfishly, cuz I want to see you!!) and you have a bed to sleep in if you stay overnight.

    As someone who cut a set of locks before I will tell you that it is a BIG deal- maybe more than can be easily articulated to others who don’t have locks themselves- and you KNOW when the time is right. If you have any hesitation, the time is probably not right.

    Of course I support you, whatever you decide my sista!

  4. Oh, okay Shay. Do you prefer palm rolling or could you try latching? Some prefer the look of palm rolling I couldn’t palm roll my own hair but I could latch easily with good results. It won’t look as sleek as palm rolling but it would look neat. I don’t know how latching could work with longer locks . . . maybe you could cut them back a little (not completely off) so that latching could work. Let me know if you need some learn-to-latch sites. I found it very simple to do (I could do it while watching TV) and there are tools available even to make it even simpler (I used to use a bent paper clip but you could use a bobby pin, hair pin or buy a commercially made latching tool).

  5. Chi-chi, the problem is I don’t know how to do it myself that was why I started freeforming. Now my hair is so long that I keep trying to retwist myself and its just not happening. (they come loose, look bad). If I had someone here that could help me by giving me a hands on lesson, it would be no problem keeping them. I only know one sista with locks here and well I asked for help and that was over a year ago.

    It will probably be a different post but now I a, feeling the spirtual quandry around cutting them off…feels like my antenna is going to be cut off.

  6. I agree with Natural Nubian – cut off the dreads. I don’t have natural hair but some friends do and they love the short afro esp during the summer months. Depending on how fast your hair grows, it will last til the fall without much upkeep outside of keeping it clean & moisturized. Color adds some fun to it too but that adds additional upkeep since color can destroy any hair. Not sure how you are with a lining but I will assume that’s a big no-no but a neat lining around the hairline keeps it fresh as it grows and you can get creativity with it esp in the back. Good products are key and a pic….I can’t think of anything easier unless you wanna fade it off.

  7. (i changed my name from mj to em–in case you were wondering who i was!)
    i have thick hair that was always the envy of my thin haired sister, but it was a curse for me–i don’t have any “girl” skills when it comes to hair (or make-up, etc.) i just like to get up & go with no hassle. i started clipping off all of my hair when i was in my late teens & twenties. it was, as you said, very liberating. then i started trying to be more of a girl & grew it out & started going to salons to have it layered & what-not to keep it from being so heavy & big. recently, with no money & a new burst of my former feminist self, i have taken to cutting it myself again. i just chop it off to a couple inches long & leave some long in front (my security blanket). i like to look what i think is punk rock, but at the age of 38 probably just looks like a tired mom….
    i know my hair woes aren’t quite the same as yours–but i did want to let you know that you aren’t alone at all & that i have also done entire blogs on my hair issues!
    i have always wanted to do dreds…but im not sure my hair will do them…plus im not willing to do the upkeep. but they are so cool though…sigh….

  8. Welcome to the club….I wasn’t driving 12 hours to bmore from Maine to have Andre hook me up with a tight fade.

    The last time I let a white person cut my hair…..just a mess.

    So it’s locked up….almost 6 years.

    Hair doesn’t have to be cute….but being a man – I may see things differently.

    My hair is how God made it. Perfect.

    I do cry when baby girl gets her hair cut too….

  9. i love and will now use “dead fro” lol!
    i have been natural my whole life, but wasn’t until last may08 i decided to no longer flat iron my hair, wearing my nautral coif curls. i work in corporate america so imagine the amazement/confusion once folks realized the silkness was no more.

    i encourage you to cut the locks off and rock the fro as is. i live in the bronx and a trek to brooklyn is a bit much for me, much less you all the way up in maine! you’re trying to save money & regain fiscal responsibility, so i suggest letting the locs go. there are pleny of products you could get (online if unavailable in stores up by you) to keep your tresses healthy: miss jessies, kera kare, carol’s daughter.

    now i love my mane and color it every summer. it’s not the angela davis fro i wanted, but more like jill scott. and just like i learned to style my straight hair when i flat ironed it, i am learning how to style my halo of hair now. plus you gotta admit, having a “new do” (even though it’s always been ours) is so much fun and the best part about having the texture we’ve been blessed to have.

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