I started my natural hair journey in the Spring of 1998, it began while I was at a house party with friends in of all places Halifax, NS. Up to this point my hair had been chemically treated for so long that all I knew about my natural hair was that it wasn’t “good hair” the only one who liked my hair in its natural state was my grandmother, but what did she know? Lol!
So here I am at this house party, it’s 4 AM, people are chatting away, feeling bold, having a good time, when a friend Jay, who happens to be a hairdresser and white, comes up to me, chatting away, giving me compliments on my fierce style and beauty (Jay is also gay) and then point blank says but girl that hair is so tired! I was stunned, shocked and slightly shamed. Without even skipping a beat he proceeded to say how he couldn’t understand why I did that (meaning relax) to my hair when he could see from my roots that I had beautiful, healthy hair and if he were me he would let my natural hair just be and rock it!
With that he stumbled on to have a conversation with someone else. Well I was outraged! How dare he! I turned to my dear friend in order to commiserate with me, instead she said she agreed with Jay! Oooh the treachery. She then went on to say although I had tried to school her on the many reasons why every 6 weeks I had to subject myself to a procedure where I couldn’t scratch or rub my head a week beforehand, pay 80 Canadian dollars for someone to put a chemical on my head that burned my scalp and only looked decent at best if I had at least 45 min to curl and style it or shell out another 40 dollars to have a professional style it all because I had so-called bad hair. She saw nothing bad with my natural hair, the itsy, bits she had seen when I was trying to show what I had to “deal” with.
Sad but those two Caucasians sobered me up and since I couldn’t argue back with her, the next morning I went to Jay’s hair salon and told him to cut it off. He didn’t even ask if I was sure, he went right to work before I could change my mind. When he was done and I saw the inch I had left of hair, my first reaction was I liked what I saw and I felt free. Jay then said at this length I had wash and go hair, invest in a good conditioner, a good leave-in, a brush and comb and I was good to go.
I felt beautiful from head to toe. I went to class the following Monday and you know what? All I got was wonder and compliments from my fellow classmates. I was on a high of self discovery, I hadn’t seen my own texture in so long and when I was finally faced with it my first question to myself was why the hell did I think I had bad hair? I liked the texture, the way it felt, the ease and the products I used actually responded to my hair, this was fun, yeah! happily ever after right….well not quite
The hardest part
The hardest part of the journey was the female contingency of my family who had all gathered to support me for my graduation and had not seen me since I had chopped up all my hair.
Reaction not positive basically WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO YOUR HAIR!!!!!!! The only close to positive reaction I got was from my grandmother who didn’t like the shortness but said it would grow and this time to promise her when it did not to go back to those chemicals (If I had always been listening to grand mama I wouldn’t have had to rediscover my hair to begin with and then shamed by some enlightened white folk) Unfortunately grandma’s words got drowned by the other females who were telling me how I couldn’t wear my hair like that, I didn’t have the right type of hair to go natural and on and on and on that my new found but still fragile entering into the natural world started to shake.
You see I was still seeking outside validation rather than trusting my gut and I was still too insecure and riddled with issues to fully embrace me. love me as I am. So I started to doubt, after all even though I had been getting nothing but compliments from schoolmates, even going out on casting this was from a Caucasian community and it crumbled under the disapproval of my powerful female relatives. But I couldn’t fully go back to the creamy crack, there had to be a middle ground!?! Enter the TEXTURIZER!
This placated the familia and as soon as that “creamy crack” touched my hair again this time I knew through every fiber of my being that I had made a big, big, big mistake! At first I tried to lie to myself that now my hair really was more manageable, that I still had my curls, that I was still “natural’ but my hair told me the truth.
A few months of texturizing my hair started going limp at the ends as it grew, once again I had to go to the hairdresser in order to “fix” my hair and slowly but surely the old issues I had when I fully straightened my hair started to come back, burned scalps, and a teeny, tiny, bald spot beginning in the back of my hair and truth be told I missed that kinky, fuzzy, cottony feeling of my natural hair. This time I didn’t need anybody’s outside advice, critique or opinion I had had enough and this time I didn’t care who thought what! I was going 100% natural and I was never ever going to relax my hair again!!! And that’s what I’ve done to this day and never looked back!
What did your journey teach you?
Going natural taught me to love myself, there was nothing wrong in the way I was created from my body, to my skin right up to the beautiful kinky coils sprouting from my hair. I learned that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and my eyes truly opened to the myriad forms of beauty this world has and only in embracing my true beauty could I truly see the beauty out in the rest of the world. Going natural gave me confidence to not feel the need to hide and the courage to begin my loc journey because I found locs beautiful and when I loved and embraced my natural beauty others around me followed suit except this time it was a nice compliment to something I already knew. Going natural and especially locing my hair has shown me the only place I need to seek validation is within myself and to go searching for it elsewhere is basically me giving my power away. The happy ending to this story is that I continue to love my hair and the journey I am going through with my locs and as for the familia ironically the two loudest poo pooers one now has sister locks and the other has stopped relaxing their hair and considering locs!
Why did you start locing and why did you choose the method that you choose?
I’m currently on my second set of locs, the first time I loced my hair was because I really didn’t know what else to do with my hair, I had been braiding it, got bored of that, was curious about locing and without knowing anything about locing my hair went to a hairdresser who loced hair and told him to loc me up. I must repeat I knew NOTHING of the locing process so was surprised when he did these twists in my hair, said not to get my hair wet for a month!!!! and to constantly twist my hair to encourage the locing process ( I now know all of that info was wrong!!!) but I followed his instructions to the letter wondering when is my hair going to look like locs? He said anywhere from 3-6 months (he was right about that).
At this time in my life I was in living in Mozambique and while there were lots of women who wore braids, or naturals, locs were mostly a hairstyle that men wore. Thank God I had a female friend who had locs for over 8 years and was able to be my loc mentor, especially when I was budding. Locing taught me patience and as my locs matured I experienced a hair freedom I had only dreamed of! My hair grew healthy, long, easy maintenance and going to the hairdresser was a choice not a necessity!
Also because I was regularly maintain my hair, I learned to become very choosy about who touches my hair, I had gained control and acquired knowledge of what my hair was like, what it needed and how it should be handled. I now have the hair education to be selective of any stylist that touches my hair and because locing gives you an intimate relationship with your hair I started educating myself on what I put on my hair to the point that A I make my own conditioners and spritzes. I guess when I went natural I shed the years of misinformation and limited standards of beauty and when I loced my hair I acquired knowledge and respect for my hair to become self reliant. I love it.
When I moved to Los Angeles I cut my locs off. I did this because with the greater knowledge I now had of how to properly take care of my hair and the many styles I never tried when I had loose hair I wanted to experience that. I twisted, afro puffed, braided, dyed and when I had my fill I returned to locs because I missed them. With this set of locs (which I’ve had for two and a half years), I went to a loctician who not only is well educated in the proper maintainance of locs but is also a friend of mine, she started my locs by comb coils, I like the cylinder shape of the locs. I maintain my hair myself for the most part and I alternate between latching and palmrolling and I am very, very, happy with my hair.
That is my hair story.
Konima Parkinson-Jones / Koko
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