|Fully Natural since 2003;
Earthloc'd since 2004
I don't know if I have ever told the full story of my hair journey. It does seem fitting now for quite a few reasons:
1. I just recently got my "hairapy" session. Most would call it going to a hair appointment or getting one's hair done. For me, it's a "hairapy" session.
2. This will officially mark my 300th published Blogger journal entry.
If anyone in my home state would have asked me my view on having natural hair, I would have been one of the last females you would have seen rocking one.
Part of it came from getting teased about the thickness in my younger years as well as the struggle I endured so that the amount of teasing I received would either decrease or become eliminated all together.
Even when the trauma surfaced (which I discussed in my E Soul Cleanse), I didn't think it was because my hair shouldn't have had any chemical in it initially. I was just so furious the lady would put two chemicals on top of each other and that my hair started coming out.
When my grandmother was finally able to send me to an actual hairstylist, I realized the importance of a good relationship with your stylist.
I believe it takes a lot to trust someone else to know what is best for one's hair--from its' health to how its' styled.
In my situation, I had been badly burned by a stylist in training. I was very cautious, but Althea was very patient. I got a chance to know her; she got a chance to know me. At times, she was very tempted to take a bit more off than just a trim. However, at the time, I sometimes equated the short hair with my trauma. Plus, in my mind, it seemed longer hair was the standard for beauty. So I didn't mind any trims; anything farther than that I didn't okay.
Althea styled my hair from the 8th grade all the way until high school.
Once I went to college, I was in a bit of a quandary what to do about my hair. I didn't trust myself enough to perm it, and although there were other females who often did their own hair, I didn't have enough confidence in them. However, I didn't mind them braiding my hair, so that my new growth would be covered up. Times when I would come home for vacation or for a weekend, I would catch up with Althea to put a perm in my hair.
So I guess you can say she continued to do my hair somewhat through my time at college.
Then, in 2001, I moved to Georgia. I discovered very quickly that Georgia hairstylists charged way more money than Althea. I had to weigh out whether I wanted to invest $100 just on a perm and style.
I opted not to and did alternate things with my hair--via putting my hair in a ponytail or when I could, spending time with Tei (who I refer to as Pooh Bear) to adorn my hair with different types of braids.
I had been talking to her and bonding with her since the days of Fireseek, and when we met, she had such a wonderful powerful energy about her. I just knew that her fingers, her energy would be welcomed for my hair, even though the traveling distance between us was great.
So Tei, in a sense, replaced Althea, for the time I was in Georgia.
Around 2002 was about the time I stopped perming my hair altogether. One of my favorite braid designs didn't even look like braids. It was more of the kinky twists (see pic of me in the red jersey)--a nice mix of black and deep red. It had a natural texture to them; it made me think if my actual hair, sans the chemicals, could really blossom. However, I wasn't brave enough yet to take the step.
Then, when things hit rock bottom at the beginning of 2003 and I received the invitation to move to New Jersey, I wanted a brand new start. The few strands of perm which held on tenaciously to my scalp represented the part I wanted to die.
So a few days after arriving in New Jersey, I removed my braids along with the remaining strands of perm. Then, I cried. I didn't think it was going to be such an emotional thing, but for me, it was.
I hadn't fully worn my natural tresses (meaning without covering them up via braids, attachable ponytails, or chemicals) since I was 12 years old. Here I was, trying to start at 25. I felt like a newborn.
I got a lot of weird looks with my baby fro. (In hindsight, I wish I would have taken more pictures of the baby fro.) Some people even mistook me for a guy, although that threw me off a bit, since I'm not exactly the smallest chested lady in the galaxy.
As my hair began to grow, I discovered it was getting long enough to twist. So I played around with twisting it a little bit. However, I never let it get to where it would completely loc. I had heard of dreadlocks, had even seen pictures of them. I had also been told it was quite a commitment, and the only way you could get them out was to cut them off and start all over. I wasn't ready to do any type of thing like that; for me, just rocking a fro or baby twist now and then was enough.
I started to embrace and appreciate the different textures of my hair. My hair wasn't all the way coarse. In my old baby pictures, my grandmother told me my hair was mostly wavy than coarse. Plus they were in different parts of my head.
As my acceptance grew for my hair in its' natural state, I wanted to seek someone who knew what he or she was doing, so if I wanted to any additional moves in styling, etc., then I'd have a guide. However, the part of New Jersey I was in, the natural hair care stylists were limited.
|Nedjetti, Hair Artist (NYC/NY)
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Then, I started to do research and stumbled across Nedjetti's website. I was very impressed by her resume as well as the work she had done on others. She also had such wonderful advice and worse of wisdom for those starting the journey. The thing which struck out to me the most, and something I have also adopted, is the fact she refers to locs as Earthlocs rather than "dreading" or "dreadlocks".
So if I see someone with locs, I will refer to them as locs or Earthlocs but never "dreadlocks". If someone asks me, "How long I've been dreading?", I will reply, "Oh, you mean loc'ing?"
Nedjetti has been more than just a stylist to me. She is truly an artist. It is as if she sees the inner glow of someone's beauty, fine tunes it, and has it manifest as the hairstyle. She does that for her clients.
I felt with each visit, she took a light that had become dim and made it shine again. If my soul was heavy, just one visit from her--it was indeed "hairapy." It wasn't just a hair appointment.
Being natural for me represents the ability to pick up more readily when someone's energy is toxic. It became more amplified once I made the choice to loc. The times when my relationship with Bittersweet was at its' worst, even when I tried to smile through the pain, one visit with Nedjetti would tell the story.
I had played around with wanting to dye my locs deep red and ran the idea by her. On one particular visit, Nedjetti saw the amount of damage and just told me, "The relationship you're in isn't good for you, and it's showing in your hair. I'm not putting any color in your hair until it gets healthier." I hadn't even told her that same day, Bittersweet and I had an awful fight prior to my making the hour drive there.
It deepened my appreciation for Nedjetti. She wouldn't knowingly do anything bad to my hair, no matter how much I wanted the color. She not only respected her art that much; she respected me that much, and that overrode any sadness or disappointment I had about the new color I wanted.
Yesterday (Sept. 6th) was the first time in a long time we had seen each other. Yet, upon our meeting, it was like time had never passed.
I did surprise her, for in the almost 10 years we have known each other, I have never requested to have my locs styled. It's usually just wash and retouch--and an occasional loc repair if needed. I had never even had my locs trimmed.
So I thank Nedjetti, not only for my spotlight but for the amount of dedication you give in your craft. I am truly grateful and blessed we have crossed each others' paths.