In 1993, I transitioned directly from permed hair to wearing Dreadlocks. Getting your hair to lock is a long, arduous process that requires a tremendous amount of patience and attention. I had to constantly re-twist and cut my hair. As well, I had to apply natural products like the cactus plant Rachette and Indian Hemp that were very strange and exotic to me at the time. After a short while of this natural processing, my hair emerged and it was beautiful! I had this big, twisted-up Afro that was so unique, everywhere I went people would stare and gasp in amazement at how tight my hair looked! Between 6 months and a year later, I finally achieved real Dreadlocks. I must say however, that when that time came, I didn't think my hair looked as good. I was happy that I finally had my locks, but they weren't as unique looking as my curly fro.
My locks grew long and naturally (like Bob Marley's), because I didn't believe in going to lockticians to get my hair groomed. To me, wearing your hair Dreadlocked isn't a hairstyle, its a state of mind and I wanted to wear my hair as nappy as possible to demonstrate my love for natural African hair. Overtime however, although I loved my locks, I began to fantasize about that funky Afro I had when I first started locking and I realized that I didn't have to wear Dreadlocks to represent. So, on New Year's day 2002, I cut my locks off! It wasn't hard at all and I was ecstatic!
My first non-locked, natural style was a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro). I was self-conscious and apprehensive about wearing my hair so short after all, I went from Dreadlocks almost down to my knees to really short hair. From that point on, my hair grew out to around 5-6 inches long, but it wouldn't grow any longer! I started trying different products and braiding my hair in extensions to get it to grow out, but I never achieved any real length. In fact, one of the last times I braided my hair, half of the length of my hair broke off in the back of my head! It took a terribly long time, but I finally realized I didn't know how to take care of my hair! I was so confused. Why did my Dreadlocks grow so long and so fast, but not my Afro? So i jumped on the computer and started researching. Soon enough, I stumbled upon the natural African hair care videos on YouTube and my mind was blown!
I was doing EVERYTHING wrong! I learned that everybody's hair grows about 1 1/2 inches a month, but if your hair is breaking you will never see the growth. I thought my God, every time I wash my hair, I blow dry it and the sink is always full of hair. I also learned we aren't supposed to comb, brush or manipulate our hair too much, as this causes breakage as well. Again I thought to myself, my hair grew so long when I had locks, because I basically left it alone.
I gained such a wealth of knowledge from the online, natural African hair care community, that I was completely overwhelmed. Everything we are taught as Black women about hair care is wrong! EVERYTHING! No wonder so many of us seem to be relegated to the same short hairstyles and result to wearing weaves or wigs to know what it looks and feels like to have long hair.
I have nothing but respect and great admiration for Madame CJ Walker for innovating in hair care for Black women, but that was 100 years ago. While some of her inventions served us well in the past, others do nothing for the true health and growth of natural African hair today. It's time for Black women around the world to step into the 21st century and get educated in the Science of Natural African Hair Care. Now get with the program and Grow Your Natural!