In 2019, I woke up one morning and started scrolling through the explore page on Instagram. I saw short haircuts and loc styles. Mesmerized by both, I itched for a change. I decided to loc my hair and found a loctician who could see me the same day. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I had been natural my entire life and wanted a relaxer as a child simply to look like the other Black girls in my class. Thankfully, my mom never let me get one. I always wore braids, straightened hair, wash n’ gos, and other protective styles. Because of my texture and length, I often faced ridicule for not being “natural enough” or was questioned about what I was mixed with because there was no way that I was just Black. I received the “good hair” compliment. At 7 years old I wasn’t sure what that meant, but even in adulthood, I never stopped hearing it.
People projected unrealistic expectations of how my hair should look or how I should feel about my hair. If I had braids, I didn’t need it. If I wore a wig, I didn’t need that either. I had “all that hair.” The hair type battles on social media exhausted me. Everyone was a critic and had the upper hand over someone else's opinions and experiences.
I needed to love my hair on my own terms, wear my hair for me, and see myself in a light unattached to the ideas of others. Although I knew starting locs in my hair would be a process that required patience, I was ready to face the challenge.
The shrinkage was real. 71 coils gently fell to my jawline and that was the first time I had ever seen my hair that short. I was happy with my decision, but equally uncomfortable. I felt vulnerable. I was vulnerable. I was already wondering what others would think.
I had to redefine what being beautiful meant to me, and that was no overnight process. I sought external approval, but it was never enough. I couldn’t hide behind my hair, or the side part I loved to wear when my hair was pressed. My face was out in the open; my features were in the forefront. It seemed like people could read me. I felt exposed.
My locs were rebellious, curly, and frizzy. I grew to love them individually. None were alike, and I admired each one. They were different lengths and patterns. It seemed as if the more I loved on my locs, the more they grew. A year later, I dyed my hair purple. It was the scariest, yet most liberating thing I had ever done.
I continued to physically and mentally transform. I unlocked a new level of myself, a fearless and more confident me, a more aligned me. I was in awe. There I was: bold and authentic, embracing who I have always wanted to be deep down. Free.
I never would have imagined that changing my hair would ignite a flame in me. I broke the molds people expected me to squeeze myself into. My locs taught me to be self-accepting and not strive to appease others. Above all, they taught me self-love.