Happy Birthday/Lockday/anniversary to my hair!
Although it seems strange to be celebrating a hair anniversary, I do feel it appropriate to somehow commemorate the day I began this locked down journey to freedom. Do I regret it? No... In fact I am still very proud of myself for finally taking the plunge after hemming and hawinga bout it for so many years!
Perming my hair was never about a desire for 'more manageable hair' or 'equal hair rights' (with other races); I did it because (almost) everyone else did, it was the 'natural' (LOL) thing to do. Natural hair was for primary school, when you either started secondary school or turned 16 for the die hard girls - you straightened your hair. It was just what you did. It symbolised the demarcation between young girl and young woman.
So, when I was 14 (or 15), I had my first perm. And I LOVED the way my hair lay flat against my head when I wore pony tails. I wasn't so into the curling business... straight and smooth were enough for me. Who knows? I might even post a pic from that era heheh.
Shortly after my 16th birthday, having left secondary school for College, I was again in transition. I was hanging with 'conscious' breddren and exploring social issues, searching for my identity, learning about Marcus Garvey and Bob (Marley), Clement Payne and Sir Errol Walton Barrow; Bussa (leader of the slave revolt in Barbados), Malcolm X and Martin (Luther King). I grew my hair out from that Halle Berry bob to a kinky curly fro... and I was happy.
On from College, throughout my University years, I sported the (much longer) fro, or twists, and braid outs and cane rows. I experimented with colour, shape and form. I grew - my hair grew. I associated its length with how far I'd travelled in my journey of life. It was never a love-hate thing... no matter howo tough I felt it was (sometimes) or how long it would take me to wash and retwist it. It was never a burden - it was just my hair.
About to start my graduate job - I committed the cardinal sin. No - it wasn't that I had relaxed my hair per se - the sin (in my mind) was that I did it in order to fit in, i felt that I had to have straight hair in order to work at an Investment Bank (IB) and minimise the likelihood of me getting sidelined or negatively stereotyped. My 'sin' and therefore my shame - was that I stopped being true to myself... I think I would have been happier had I relaxed it out of boredom rather than boardroom pressure!
My hair was past my shoulders (armpit length at the back) when I relaxed it in April 2002 but by August it was seriously breaking... by October I was regularly wearing hair pieces to create the illusion that it was still as long and luxurious as it used to be... by January the next year, I was back to the Halle berry bob.
In 2004, I cut it all off again, this along with my biker chick attitude and Piaggio X9 led some to question my sexualty. (What is it with hair and sexual orientation eh? Stupse) I mention this now because I was at a different IB and it never occurred to me that cutting my hair/wearing it natural would become an issue... for anybody. And after a while they got used to it. And I faded into the background again - I was non threatening and hard working, nothing for corporate London to worry about - even if I did sport twists or fades :)
As my wedding day approached, I became antsy about my hair. Surely you couldn't wear natties (natural twists or comb coils) on your wedding day, and corn rows just didnt seem 'special' enough... Off I went to the salon and maintained a healthy head of permed hair for about 6 months prior to the 'special ' day... Would you believe that my Wedding Day hair stylist basically bc'd my hair on the morning of the wedding? She says she thought I wanted x style (which was popular at the time - kinda like Fantasia's short cuts) but I know she just wanted to do it like that - maybe that's the only style she knew DESPITE me going in for several consultations beforehand and showing her pictures of the style I wanted. Shoot - I could have done it better myself! CHAH!
So with tears in my eyes as I dressed for my wedding I swore that it would be a cold day in hell before I ever let another hairdresser touch my hair again. I hated that hairstyle so much - no matter how much my sisters and nieces tried to comfort me or how good people told me it looked; all I knew was this wasnt what I wanted. It would be
As soon as I got back from the honeymoon, I stopped at a barber shop and told them to cut it all off. If I couldn't have it how I wanted it - I didn't want it at all. This was pretty much me - round headed tennis ball head me for the first 6 months of 2007. Slowly I started growing my hair back - but then I had the whole battle with alopecia yada yada. I avoided chemical processing since then. - and I kept my vow (the other vow I made on my wedding day) - it would be another 2 years before I let a 'stranger' put their hands in my hair.
In 2009, while enjoying my maternity leave in Barbados, I finally made peace with the idea of locking my hair. The seeming 'permanence' of it had always put me off in the past, so I was as averse to locking my hair as I was to perming it. I liked the versatility that came with having loose natural hair: one week you could have corn rows, the next week a braid out; followed by a bun (or two!) and of course my favourites - two stranded twists or a 'wash and go'. What I didn't like was all the detangling, and combing and retwisting (aka maintenance) required. Recently I had a conversation with a 'loose' haired natural who mentioned wearing her hair in a ponytail for ages, only brushing the edges - only to discover a matted afro underneath hahahahha - I could so identify with that! Sometimes I just couldn't be bothered!