Loc’ed and Free

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 mash: black beauty / introspection


So I’ve started a new hair journey–locs. “Oh, exciting and controversial,” you might be thinking in a snide internal voice. “She doesn’t have anything more exciting to think about?”

Well, it isn’t so simple to me, or millions of other women. It’s a bit more about acceptance of self in the face of society, tradition, and culture, and less about a hairstyle.

You see, my family is old-school-Caribbean, and my father is anti-locs. He hates them. When I was growing up in NYC, with all the fashionable people with all their fashionable hairstyles, I always leaned towards the natural and loc’ed looks. And I was always pushed by my parents  way towards perms and told I was too pretty for “knotty-dread”. That’s what I grew up calling them: a combination of two very negative words: “knotty” and “dread”. Who wants something knotty or dreaded on their head?

And it isn’t that my father was just against the hairstyle. Loc’s represented rastas, “liming about” (a Caribbean way of saying laziness), and a rebellious attitude. These were not things that my clean-cut, hard-working, Christian family embraced. No “dread-loc’ed” people hated authority, ‘the man’ (who usually turned out to be white), and conventional religion–and instead spent their time in pointless arguments and smoking weed. At least that’s what my father instilled in me to believe.

So while I eyed the beautiful loc’ed styles in my youth, I stuck to my perms. Eventually I broke free from that (a story for another day) and proudly rocked ‘fros, braids, and twists–usually to my parent’s shigrine. And as I grew I met women that defied my learned prejudice about locs. I had teachers and principals in my strongly afro-centric schools that wore loc’s beautifully. And guess what? They had jobs, educations, didn’t smoke weed, didn’t hate ‘the man’, wore crosses or other emblems of traditional mainstream religions. And their loc’s were well maintained, and anything but knotty or dreadful.

So I asked to get loc’s. “Not in my house,” was the simple and to the point response from my dad. So I dropped it and simply admired from afar. As I continued to grow I heard a lot of the same prejudices repeated in others towards people who wore locs.

“Oh, they must smoke weed.”
“They probably hate white people.”
“Couldn’t possibly have a stable job.”
“That person obviously isn’t educated.”
“He/She must be super angry all the time.”
“Oh look, a rasta.”
“They’ll never get far in the professional world with hair like that.”
“Loc’ed for life. That’s just who they are.”

And even though I knew that these probably weren’t true I soaked them in. And as a grown  woman who said she was moving towards self-love, I fussed and fought with my hair often, unhappy with my varied chosen styles. It finally took my husband to go, “You always comment on other people’s pretty locs. You’re grown and live in your own house. You don’t need daddy’s approval, or anyone else–just go get them.”

And I thought about it. How could I say I really am growing towards independence and self-love if I’m letting the fear of incorrect and silly prejudices stop me from trying something I might like? How can I really embrace myself, or teach my son to embrace who he is, if I wasn’t even being myself?

So, I recently loc’ed my hair. It wasn’t a long drawn out decision. I decided to try it. If I don’t like it–guess what? I’ll change it. But for now, I’m not going to let fear or social prejudices stop me. I am who I am–and I’ll look how I want. I’ve decided to untie myself from cultural stigma, and loc myself to free myself.

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  • http://mykurves.blogspot.com/ Kurves

    First time visitor and I like what I have read, so I will be back to read more. . .

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      Thank you! Look forward to it :-)

  • http://www.bajantexan.blogspot.com Keitha The Bajan Texan

    wow very interesting. for me growing up in the caribbean locs in our home was just another hairstyle not necessarily meaning you were a rastafarian as that is a religion. My mom has sisterlocs and my sister and I have dreadlocs. We have all had perms in the past, except my sister. Its just weird to me that I never really thought about job or social implications of dreadlocs. I decided to start them after i got my job and I haven’t received anything but positive comments or thoughts at work or out and about. This was a very interesting piece though, really made me think.

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      Yeah, I think my dad was real old school. My dad just looks at my hair now… but I think he is understanding that it is *just* a hairstyle…. one that can look fabulous when taken care of. I work in a place with no other African American, and no one has locs. So in a way it actually takes the pressure off. They have almost now opinion about my hair at all except it looks nice. lol

  • Robin Rue

    I have very naturally curly hair that I pay a small fortune to straighten with keratin. Totally worth it.

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      LOL… my friend does Keratin treatments too. She loves them. It’s great to see her flip her hair right after a treatment. :-)

  • Stephanie C.

    Great post! You bring up an interesting idea of how something as simple as a hairstyle has so much cultural / family ties and even stereotypes associated with it! Hope you enjoy your new look – good for you for doing what feels right & natural for you.

  • http://www.hockeywifehockeylife.com/ Samantha Angell

    I’d never heard of locs before…but good for you that you finally did it, especially since you have wanted it for awhile!

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      Thanks! Hopefully they will grow long and healthy, and I can show you some pictures. :-)

  • http://www.simplysinova.com/ Angelic @ SimplySinova.com

    My mom has been wanting Loc’s forever but she said she isn’t up for all the hard work they take so she’s just been wearing her hair naturally/in an afro (which is still a lot of work!) It’s so important to love your hair (what ever style it’s in), it really makes a different. I’ve started wearing my naturally curly hair and I’m so glad I don’t have to waste time on straightening <3

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      I had a ‘fro for a while. Locs I think are way less work on a day-to-day, week-to-week bases. I have rather small ones, and I interlock once a month at a salon. It’s not expensive, and takes about 3 hours. Totally worth it for me. Eventually I’ll learn to interlock them myself.

  • Laura O in AK

    Love how you are going with what you want rather than worrying about everyone else. I’ll admit to never knowing how I want to wear my hair.

  • http://www.themadmommy.com/ Echo (The Mad Mommy)

    It’s great that you made the decision to do it for yourself. It’s your hair, do want you want!

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    Awesome post !!!! Never hear of locs but they look and sound pretty fabulous!!

  • http://www.myrabev.blogspot.co.uk/ Mia Myrabev

    I have never been one to want locs but these days they are so stylish that they look cool and i get what you mean my dad was a bit similar in that respect

  • http://superwonderwomanruss.blogspot.com/ R U S S

    If it’s any consolation, my Mom doesn’t want me ( still ) to color my hair. She still feels like I’m her little girl. Locs were something that I’ve always wanted to try, but sadly, I don’t think that I’d be able to give justice to the ‘do because I have really thin hair. With you, it looks great! And, as long as it feels right and if it makes you happy, go for it :)

  • SharonMomsMadhouse

    Good for you! Your hair and you get to do what you want with it! Hope
    you love it and like you said, if not…you can change it :)

  • http://preciouslittleworlds.blogspot.com/ hannah staveley

    Good post you have given me some fab information that I did not know.x

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