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To Chop or Not to Chop? Decision Made (for now!)

Image found at: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_2QhCBRCv41I/TQIxanu4x2I/AAAAAAAAAN4/EXKzRmkbg2E/s640/locbob.jpg

To cut or not to cut off my locks? Well, I finally made a decision. I have a loc maintenance appointment tomorrow (Wednesday) and I can’t wait. I have decided to go to a new salon and I hope that it works out. It’s an early birthday gift to myself because I turn 40 on Thursday. Whew-hew! So looking forward to it! I’ve been blessed with another year of life, Hallelujah! I’m not going to let insecurity rob me of the sheer joy of that.


I think I gave myself a gift when I took the time to work through the feelings that I have about my locks and my identity. I realize that, for now, I just need a new look! When I go to the salon, I will be experimenting with a new style (thanks to Kinky Curly Island Gurl (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kinky-Curly-Island-Gurl/232006620146085?sk=wall) I won’t be cutting it into a style but will perhaps ask the stylist to craft a cute lock bob. Hmm, or maybe I’ll color it? In any event, I’m open to the possibilities. Will have to post a picture once it’s done!


Have you been thinking about doing the Big Chop? What is leading you to want to do it? If you decided not to, why?

  • meandmrcole

    Thhis is exciting! I can't wait to see the 'do (and you!) over the long weekend. Enjoy the salon experience, and whatever you do, go with your gut.

  • topie

    Hi AJ! Thanks so much. By the way, that is not me in the pic. I just love the style! I am now loving my locs. I think I just went through a phase where I wanted something different. It has motivated me to learn more and more about locs. I need to expand beyond pulling it into a ponytail and putting it up. Whew-hew. Meandmrcole, yes, can't wait to see you! We are going to have a ball!

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Our Children are Affected by Our Hair Choices

Image found at: http://www.essence.com/images/mt/little_girl.jpg

The plot thickens. I’ve been playing in my hair for the last 48 hours to see just how much length I’ll have once I cut off my locs. I’ve been reading natural hair blogs and books. Actually, just finished reading Thank God I’m Natural by Chris-Tia E. Donaldson (I give this book a huge thumbs up; it’s a great, quick read with comprehensive content: http://thankgodimnatural.wordpress.com/book/). The book and other sources have told me that, in some cases, it’s possible to take locs down though it can cost $250 to $500 to get it done in a salon. I have never spent that much on my hair and don’t know if I’m willing to now. It helps that I LOVE a TWA and that my husband says he looks forward to it again if that’s what I want. Plus, I get to swim on a daily basis if I want to (there’s a whole different discussion about putting on a swimsuit…okay, I really have issues) HAHA.


I think it also sends a message to my children (we have an 8 year old and a 5 year old). The hilarious thing is that neither one of our children wants me to cut my hair. My son said, “MOMMY! No! No one around here has hair that short” Say what? Wow. Without putting words into his mouth, it sounds like my man is concerned that his Momma is going to look like a plucked chicken and that he will bear the brunt of being teased because of it. My daughter is even more adamant, “MOMMMMMMMMYYYY! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DON’T CUT YOUR HAIR! I LIKE IT LONG!” Double wow. Such emotion about MY hair. Is it possible that my hair has implications for their identity? Well, given the central role that parents play in identity formation it seems the answer is yes. This tells me that what we do with our hair may impact our children’s attitudes about their hair and themselves in general. Talk about responsibility.


Truth be told, we live in a lily-white neighborhood, in a lily-white town in the suburbs of a predominately white city. There are not many people of color more or less women with natural hair. I was stretching it with long dreadlocks, now I’m taking it further with a TWA. Hey kiddos, there’s no time like the present to understand the fact that I AND YOU have kinky, coily hair that differs from the hair of those around you. Yes children, we’re different in some ways and similar in other ways to those around us. Guess what, it’s all beautiful. Here’s to learning how to embrace our unique beauty and the beauty of others.

  • Karen M. Marbury

    I'm going to check out the book you mentioned. And good luck with the TWA. I'm sure you will rock it beautifully. And Tina, I think that our reaction and feelings about hair length are so tied into the texture issues, just as you point out. Short and natural really is pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. It completely flies in the face of our accepted beauty norms. Love the courage and I can't wait to see your pics! Also actively adoring the pic of the beautiful girl-child above.  Very best, Karen

  • topie

    Hey Karen, thanks for your comments! I love knowing that the blog is resonating at some level. Isn't the little girl a cutie pie? I saw her and HAD to post her pic. Yes, please do check out the book. I LOVED it. Yes, hair texture and length interact in some interesting ways. I still have to figure out where I'm going to cut my hair (whew, sometimes get agita thinking about it). I think that I'm going to go to New York maybe Khamit Kinks or something. Talk soon and tell me what you think about the book!

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To Chop or Not to Chop, That is the Question

Image found at: http://www.naturalhairgrows.com/images/dreadlocks.jpg


I’ve shared that, as of late, I’ve been thinking about doing the Big Chop again. This time, I’d be chopping off my dreadlocks. I love my locs and think that they are beautiful. However, I realize that I never learned to work with my natural, unlocked hair. Yes, I rocked a TWA (teeny weeny afro) and then adorned my hair in two-strand twists. However, despite the fact that my unfettered hair is thick, kinky, long and wide, I NEVER wore a fro. Why not? Well, I think I was afraid. Afraid that my big hair wouldn’t look professional. Afraid I’d lose control of my coif if I was caught in a surprise rainstorm or if the day turned out to be humid. Afraid that I’d be viewed as a militant woman who secretly sported an afro pick complete with clenched fist. Afraid that my supervisors and/or my clients wouldn’t find me relatable because my afro would make it obvious that I was not an “us” but a “them”. Afraid that the morning of a big presentation, I’d look in the mirror at my dented afro and cry because I had no idea what product to use to “tame” it. Afraid, afraid, afraid.


I’m turning 40 later on this month and I realize that part of life is confronting one’s fears. Given the freedom of an academic career plus my evolving attitude about fear and risk, I think I’m leaning toward the second Big Chop. Plus, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post there is a veritable Natural Hair Movement! Hmm, we’ll see.


Have you recently done the Big Chop? Have you been thinking about going natural but just don’t have the courage? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s encourage and inspire each other! In case you’re interested, here are a few sites that give advice about the Big Chop: http://zora-alice.com/2010/11/the-beginners-guide-to-the-big-chop-part-1/; http://naturallymemedia.com/2011/02/25/the-live-big-chop-at-fro-fashion-week/, http://naturalreviewbyl.com/tag/big-chop/. I also came across this website on dreadlocks which has some interesting links: http://www.naturalhairgrows.com/dreadlocks.html.

P.S.: I think it’s really cool that a Google search for Big Chop yielded 1,690,000 hits and tons and tons of pictures of women of color. Something is definitely afoot.

  • topie

    Hi Shakena, Thanks so much for your comment. It sounds like you are doing a great job getting acquainted with your hair. Whew-hew for freedom, right? You made me chuckle because I can so relate to your comments. I'm now figuring out whether or not I'm going to do the BC again. To answer your question, I have mature locks that I started about 10 years ago from two-strand twists. I feel like I'm afraid to cut them. I know, weird right? Also, I do think that business training (what do you do? I've studied business since undergrad and now I'm a business professor) has a huge impact on what we consider professional. We have to figure out how to be authentic in a world where our authenticity is sometimes considered unprofessional (e.g., kinky hair, dreadlocks, etc.). the good thing is that it really feels like we're all in this journey together. Encouraging each other along the way. Best wishes to your best friend. I've heard that many women love sister locs.

  • Shakena.Renee

    i say "do what you feel!–but be ready to bare the consequences!" haha right now i am back in grad school for international affairs but my undergrad was in business-accounting. i also went to an hbcu which adds another aspect to the issue. we were taught to be ourselves but be the selves that will get us hired at the same time…what a confusing world!

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Identity Shift

Going forward, I am going to try something new: shorter blogs (thanks for the suggestion Fred (frederickdouglassopie.blogspot.com)). Please weigh in and let me know your thoughts on the shorter format. Thanks!


Around 2001 I had made the decision to loc my hair and I was waiting for my double-strand twists to grown into locs. Yesterday I shared several adjustments that I had to make (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/05/dreadlock-journey.html). In addition to having to stop expecting my hair to lay down, no longer running from water and realizing that everyone (especially my family) wouldn’t appreciate my journey, I had to redefine my personal beauty. It was one thing to have double-strand twists that could be taken out and straightened (a la hot comb) so that my hair looked “long”, it was a totally different thing to have somewhat porcupine looking hair as my twists / locs stood straight out on my head. My mind was flooded with a series of questions about femininity, attractiveness, and professionalism. Was I still cute? Would my husband still find me attractive? Would I look ridiculous without makeup and jewelry? Would my bosses and clients take me seriously? I’d gone through a similar phase when I first had the big chop (http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/big-chop.html) but this felt identity-shifting. I was now facing the fact that my self-presentation and part of my identity were being significantly altered in a more permanent way.

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Dreadlock Journey


I was now wearing double-strand twists and waiting for them to loc. It was quite an interesting process. I like my hair to be neatly sectioned, parts gleaming through. Well, I was told to clean my scalp with Sea Breeze so that I wouldn’t have to wash it as much so that my hair would loc. I got my hair professionally maintenance every month. That meant that my scalp was covered in new growth (wow, NOW that was a good thing. I remember when I wasn’t quite so happy about it: http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-growth.html and http://tropie7189.blogspot.com/2011/04/new-growth-meant-not-pretty.html). I was excited by my new hairstyle but I had to make several adjustments.

1. I had to stop expecting my hair to “lay down”. As I waited for my locs to grow, I’d sometimes stare at myself in wonder because a particular piece(s) of hair would stick STRAIGHT up. My hair seemed to have a mind of its own. Yes, my twisting product would allow me to bring them back into the fold but I realized that my hair was not meant to lay flat, it really wanted to grow OUT!

2. I no longer had to run from water. There were many times when it would start to rain and rather than bolting to safety, I could take my time. No, I don’t dunk my head in water every day (eeks, I still don’t go swimming…that is the last frontier for me I guess, hmm, I need to write about natural hair and exercise!) but I no longer view water as my enemy.

3. I had to accept that everyone wasn’t going to appreciate my journey. This was a huge deal. My immediate family knows that I have thick, coarse, kinky hair. So, they thought I was crazy to loc my hair. You know how when you get dressed up to go out and your family says, “Awww, you look beautiful”? Well, I had to stop expecting to hear that, at least about my hair. I had to seek affirmation from folks who appreciated what I was doing. Note: Now, my family loves my hair. I don’t know if time to adjust or the length of my hair did the trick.

I had to make other adjustments but more about those later. I am on a hunt for pictures during this part of my hair journey. Will post if I find them! J

Here is a site about locs: http://www.nappturality.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=68:locking-your-hair&catid=34:careinfo&Itemid=30. Also, “The Bronze Goddess01” channel on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/BronzeGoddess01) has great loc styling tutorials (e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZaRFJ3Ab7Y).

Enjoy your journey!

Image found at: http://csnwf.org/files/images/short_dreadlocks1.jpg

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Starting the Dreadlock Journey

Deciding to loc my hair was a natural progression expedited by the wonderful news that I was pregnant with our first child. I was getting my hair retwisted every 4 weeks or so and the thought of going to the salon that frequently for the rest of my life just didn’t sit well with me. I’d long admired long beautiful locs and, now, I was on a quest to find out if the style would work for me. I am a nerd at heart so, I first wanted to learn more about locs. Locs are intentionally formed coils of intertwined hair (just can’t bring myself to say “matted”…that has negative connotations for me). When you stop combing, brushing your hair it will weave into itself and form long coils. I was told that the style is permanent, though, I recently learned that some loc processes allow a stylist to “unlock” the hair (Has anyone else heard of this?). There are many types of locs. Some people stop combing their hair and allow their hair to mat on its own. Others meticulously twist, braid or coil their hair so that the locs will grow in an organized pattern. I was ready for a change, so I researched the best loc salons in Atlanta and, based on word of mouth, I selected a stylist. Here are a few questions you might ask when selecting a stylist:

· How long have you been a licensed hair stylist (make sure they have an up-to-date license!)?

· How long have you worked with natural hair?

· How many natural hair clients do you have per week?

· What is your natural hair specialty?

· How long have you been locking hair?

· What kinds of products do you use on locked hair?

· Do you have references?


Also, check out the Internet, there are tons of resources: http://www.dreadlocks.com/, http://thirstyroots.com/black-dreadlocks-styles.html.

Honestly, one of the best ways to find a stylist is to be bold. If you see someone’s hair that you adore, ask him/her where they get their hair done. I’ve done that to find several stylists.


Image of Lauryn Hill found at: http://www.vissastudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/lauryn-hill-freeform-dreadlocks.gif

  • Makeup by Sherry Blossom

    I had a friend who had locks and unlocked her hair. Im not to sure of the process but I believe it cut up the middle and saturated with moisture and products to create slip so that it can be combed out! It's a process that can take days/weeks for some. From what I've read and seen and I'm not sure if it depends on how "loc" your hair is. That same friend had super long dreads. Wore it out for a while (it seemed thin but I'm too sure) and now has reloc with her dreads now touching the nape of her neck…so a lot of length was lost but her dreads look fuller to me(not sure tho i dont know much about dreads)

  • topie

    Hi Sherry! Thanks so much for your comment. I believe that you're right and it does depend on how you loc your hair. Mine were done with two-strand twists so i don't think that it can be done without a TON of hair loss. However, if it's now an option, it's nice for people to know before they loc their hair. Have a great day!

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My Hair Broke a Professional Down

Given all of the hair self-reflection I’ve done over the past few weeks since I started this blog, it’s no surprise that I had a dream about my hair last night.I dreamt that I cut off my dreadlocks and went back to wearing a TWA.This time around, I used products that allowed me to enjoy the natural curl of my hair as my afro grew.I was loving life.Then, I went to some misty outdoor event and, POOF, my style shrunk.I woke up thinking, “Is this a sign?”I’ve gone back and forth about whether I should cut off my hair and start over.Honestly, part of the reason I locked my hair was that the maintenance of my two strand twists just got to be too much.In fact, my hair made someone cry.No joke.

My husband and I used to live in Atlanta and I got my locs maintenanced by a fabulous stylist at Nseya Salon and Spa (when I looked for it, just found out that it closed!Oh no!).Nseya was an upscale salon that used fabulous products and provided great customer service.One time, my stylist was on vacation and I made an appointment with another person.BIG MISTAKE!The new stylist took one look at my hair and excused herself.I could see her talking to the owner through the glass exterior window.She was visibly shaken and…wait a minute, is she crying?“What in the world is going on?” I wondered.In a few minutes, the owner came over to me and said something to the effect of the stylist didn’t specialize in my type of hair and that they’d be contacting my regular stylist to come in.WHAT!?I couldn’t believe it.My naps had broken the stylist down.That was too funny to me.And a little embarrassing.You mean my hair could make a professional cry?Wow!Anyway, my regular stylist came in (bless you wherever you are) and hooked my hair up.

I’d always loved locs and thought that they were gorgeous.I felt that locs would be a way to keep my hair natural and minimize the salon stay.That is what happened, but sometimes I still wonder what my hair would look like in all of its puffed out, afro glory.

I’d love to hear your stories.Why do you pick the hair styles that you wear?Creative exploration?Convenience?Habit?

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