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Whew Chile, This Hair

By Justice Locke

This Hair of mine has been a challenge for me especially in the last 4- 5 years when I transitioned into being natural. To give you some context; from as long as I can remember my hair styles consist of braids, ponytails at a young age then getting perms and now natural. Getting here has definitely been a journey that has helped me to embrace myself.

Before going natural I was all about the creamy crack. I was that person that argue every reason why I would never go natural but honestly I thought I couldn’t pull off the “natural look”. I also thought it would be too much to manage because I didn’t inherit the gift of doing hair or at least I didn’t think I could take care of my hair being natural. Nevertheless I loved my straight hair and getting the annual summer braids because I always got compliments on how long my hair was and how nice it looked. I prided myself off this and thought I would never want to change this look because I thought this is the one thing I had going for me. The craziest I got with my hair was getting a little track put in my hair to add some color. I know real crazy right?! But that was just how I was and it played a lot with my identity and self esteem. I was one of the black girls with good hair and I was not going change that. Then I decided to go to college three hours away in Memphis from my beautician, it was a hard realization and so the transition began.

It wasn’t a big revelation for me as I transitioned. It wasn’t a India Arie “ I am not my hair” moment; I just couldn’t find someone to put a perm in my hair when I moved to Memphis. And y’all know you can’t just let anyone put a perm in your hair unless you are willing to risk going bald which I was not for. The vision that keep playing in my head is the scene on the movie “What’s Love Got to Do With it” when Tina Turner was getting hair done before a show and that little girl didn’t wash the perm out in enough time and her hair came out. I have played that scene in my head so many times that I decided to avoid the anxiety attack all together. Everyone I knew who were going natural did the big chop but getting the big chop wasn’t an option for me either because again I prided myself off how long my hair was. To be honest my hair wasn't really that long haha but I didn’t want to through that stage so I decided that I would transition by letting the perm grow out. This was a struggle y’all like I held on to my permed hair for as long as I could but then you can start to notice where the perm was left on my ends so I started twisting it a protective style that I didn’t even know how to do. I turned to Youtube for advice but it wasn’t really my friend, I tried to redo styles from some videos but it ended just like what happens when people try to recreate stuff from Pinterest. Yes it was that bad and I didn’t take pictures to show it but everyone else thought it looked fine so I just ran with the twist and got better over time. I did the twist for awhile until I got braids that would be my saving grace until my permed hair would be completely gone.

After a summer with braids I felt it was time to cut the rest of the perm out because it was only a few inches left. The day I decided to do that was the day I wore my hair out in an afro for the first time and what an experience that was. To set the scene I am driving to Memphis from my hometown and the way I have get to the interstate going through the back roads in very country town where I make intentions on stopping anywhere until I get on the interstate. On this particular day I get stopped by the police. Keep in mind this is the very first time I am wearing my afro! I naturally feared that my life could’ve be taken as the police officer walked to my car because of a few reasons. We live in a time that driving while black was a crime (Still is a crime) and police shootings were a trend (still is a trend). I thought, of all the days this would be the day I got pulled over, the first day I embraced a part of myself I was a little ashamed of showing. I know we can just say it’s just hair but this hair is part of who I am- it’s how God created me. I have learned to embraced this truth with my hair journey, I am now in awe of my hair and myself. Did all this come to me at that moment? No, the police officer approached my car told me I was speeding (which I knew) gave me my ticket, sent me on my way and I made it Memphis. After that I felt discouraged about wearing my hair natural because I thought the police officer was judging me as I was judging the police officer. That was almost two years ago and it’s been a journey to get where I am today. Some days are good when a twist out turns out perfect and some are hard when my curls don’t want to pop like I want; but I love my natural hair and that is crazy to say coming from a girl who was all about the creamy crack.

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