Friday, 10 April 2009

WHY DID I LOC MY HAIR? and why did I choose SISTERLOCKS?

(you can see how beautiful my old locs were)
After 1yr of sisterlocks,4yrs of locs in total, I thought I'd look again at the reasons why I locked-up, and how I came to be sisterlocked. This is an excerpt of what I wrote on my website in 2005 when I started my bradelocz:
"Many african women will relate to the Saturday torture of hair washing and being wedged between the thighs of the braider who cornrowed, threadwrapped or braided your hair pulling it this way and that while you gritted your teeth. These were usually so tight that you had a facelift for days! my friends and I experimented with perming creams.(relaxers) The idea was to soften the hair. It was a real wash'n go style cos you wet your hair, the curls were defined, and as long as you kept your hands away from your hair you were fine..... until we jumped on the straight hair bandwagon.
Thus began an addiction and a vicious cycle that was to last 26 yrs. You are lured into perming because of the promise of long flowing easy to manage hair. Once you begin you're hooked. .... still it breaks and thins, Your whole life is consumed my this quest, searching for the cream that doesn't burn, that conditioner that protects..... When all is said and done, you're left with damage and more damage. I have always had the natural in me as I sometimes cut my hair cos I just wanted to be me. Infact at my brother's wedding I firmly refused to have by hair straightened even though I was a bridesmaid and I'm happily wearing my afro in the wedding photos. I never learnt to style my natural hair myself... I continued abusing my scalp and hair. I moved to England -Finding a natural hair stylist was often like looking for a needle in a haystack. I would go through all sorts of'hoops'and 'contortions' travelling several miles to get my hair 'done'. Sometimes I attempted to braid my own hair, but mainly I relied on relaxers or perms, and on ocassion, it was a DIY job. Where I'm from (Ghana) there is a strong prejudice against 'educated' women wearing their hair in it's natural state, although it's acceptable, even encouraged in girls. The only women who got away with natural hair were those with 'nice' hair ie very loose coils/silky curls. The only acceptable way is to wear extension braids or weaves. In the last 26 years, I have tried every type of perm and relaxer. I have had braids, weaves and wigs all in a bid to control or cover my hair.. These chemical perms/relaxers carry warnings. The stuff is not meant to come in contact with your skin. Usually it ends up smeared all over your scalp and left to do it's deadly work for about 30 mins. Back in the day, a large number of Ghanaian hairdressers seemed to think the longer you left the cream on the better. If you complained about a burning sensation, you were told to try and hold on as a little burning was a small price for beautiful hair. It is not unknown for a hairdresser to go and have her lunch after applying chemicals to your hair. I remember once, in my late teens, a hairdresser completely fried my scalp. My dad spent days dabbing antiseptic on the oozing sores. He tried to persuade me to give up perming. In later years, I began to make desperate attempts to give up the habit. In addition to this, my Dr. warned me about the dangers of those chemicals .... Light was begining to dawn. In 2003, I went a whole year without chemicals only to backslide in July 2004. This was to be my final bout with chemicals. This time, I was commited. (Over the years, I had made several failed attempts to go natural.) It began to dawn on me - success lay in changing my whole attitude to my hair. This required a change in my thinking...I had come to the point where I decided if I was the only one sporting a huge afro in the world- so be it. I preferred that to no hair. By now I had started searching the internet for some answers. I was drawn to locks, but hadn't a clue. This plus the fact that amongst Ghanaians, locs are often considered to be for weed smokers, fetish priests the insane or dirty, meant I spent several months haunting loc websites and learning all I could. I also wasn't sure if I could actually achieve the locs look that I wanted. I came across sisterlocks and was very impressed. However the expense and trips to London every 6 weeks just did not suit me. I have no doubt that if I had easy access to a sisterlock trainee/consultant I'd have gone that route. However it would require a 'hop step and jump' ... I had to rule it out and continue my search.... I discovered BRADELOCZ. This is a locking method which starts locs with small braids and is maintained with a latch-hook.... For those who were not born with afro textured hair, it's hard to explain why millions of us alter our hair and try to make it do something it was never meant to do. It's harder still to explain why we are willing to endure painful burns, severe damage and even illness to attain the european look. Many natural haired sisters insist we have been brainwashed. I hate to admit it but it's true.It's not until you are free (from the brainwashing)that you truly begin to appreciate your natural hair. I wish that I had come to my senses years ago. ... "
the expanded version of this is here:
Fast forward to Sept 2007 and it was evident to me I had made a number of mistakes DIY-ing and I made the decision to start over. this time with SLS my 1st love. The take-down story is here:!!!?cr=2&linkvar=000044
My SLS were installed by Ama (sls practitioner) on 25/26/01/08, in Ghana. The drama of my sls install is here:
I was very sick the 1st day and had to rush to the bathroom to throw up a number of times during that 10 hr session. You can see I was determined to get them bc we carried on, and I must say Ama was very kind and took good care of me.
15mths into the SLS journey, and I can sincerely say it was well worth it. I had a few moments when I questioned the wisdon of taking down 2 year old locs in favour of starting over with sls. I missed the length, I missed the not having to do much with my locs(bc they were no longer babies) and the faster retights (I had about 160 locs). But the good outweighs the bad. I have over 2x as many locs, fuller hair, they've finally settled hehe and I even conquered DIY-ing mini locs.


Nubian1 said...

I think the thing people need to focus is the GOAL, THE END RESULT. The journey is sometimes difficult with twists and turn (every pun intended!)but if its really what you want you know it will be worth it in the long run.

Thank you for sharing Ofo.

anthia-ofo said...

Absolutely. It's the end result that matters.Infact, if I had done a bit more research and paid closer attention to the instructions in the bradelocz e-bk I'd have got what I wanted 1st time round. Still I'm very happy with my hair now. BTW have you DIY-ed yet? I'm going to do mine this week.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post!!!! I've been asked at various times of my life why I chose to go natural, then why I loc'd.. It's so draining at times to explain, considering the inquisitive majority are black women.

We HAVE been brainwashed...we grow up thinking it's just a way of life, taking a whole day to get your hair done, inhaling toxic chemicals, burning scalps (I can still remember telling my hairdresser my scalp burned and she just said it would teach me a lesson for scratching my scalp...WHAT? I was a kid!), etc....

All I can say is locs have changed my entire life for the better. I may be looked down upon b/c of the style I've chosen but I'm more than happy to live with that and even more happy that my hair is drama free.