Loc’ing it Up
Little A’s came out of the womb with almost no hair at all. It wasn’t until she was almost three that her hair began to grow. Little A’s hair is soft and fine. In the sun, it glistens with hints of red. When brushed, it can be brushed straight. When left alone, it curls into large corkscrews. It tangles and knots easily when not braided or combed every day. It will begin to loc after several days of being let free.
A typical morning of grooming sounds like this:
“No more comb, mommy! I can’t do it! I just can’t do it!”
These are the protests of my little girl as I comb her hair.
I remember HATING to get my hair combed. No matter what the size of the comb, I remember the feeling of my head being yanked as my mom attempted to pull the comb through. I remember enduring the cornrows and braids so tight so that they’d last all week. I remember crying. I remember pain.
I don’t want that for my little girl.
I never want her to feel like she has to endure pain in order to “look good.” I never want her to dread a specific part of her body. I never want her to believe that something on her needs to be fixed.
So, I’m contemplating loc’ing her hair. My own hair has been without chemicals for about 10 years and loc’d for five. While sometimes I am annoyed with my hair, mostly due to my own lack of creativity, I think loc’ing it has been the best decision I ever made for it. Hair is never no-maintenance, but five years in I wash every two weeks, quickly retwist, which takes an hour, and the lightly oil and brush every other day. No pain. No dread. (No pun intended.) I can wear it back, out, up, straight, crinkly or curly. And it just keeps growing.
When I’ve contemplated this before, loc-ing my little girl’s hair, and aired my thoughts, I’ve gotten all kinds of opinions, the most oft being “Don’t do it!” When asked why, folks usually reply that loc’ing is permanent, and therefore not a decision a parent should make for a young child because “What if they don’t like it? Then they’ll have to shave their heads!”
I think these opinions have more to do with how people feel about locs than any legitimate concerns about child autonomy.
First, we already make so many decisions about our children that are “permanent” — they wear the clothes we want them to have, their dietary preferences are shaped by ours. And I do my child’s hair almost every day in the way that I want it. She’s only 4. Second, it’s only hair. I’ve rocked the TWA, BFA (Big Fat Afro), braids, twists, and press-and-curls. And, as shown above, Little A is adorable with no hair
I think people who have these opinions are just not comfortable with locs in general.
They think it’s too “ethnic”, too “black”, too much of a statement maker.
They think putting locs in a child’s hair is like expressing your political views on your children.
So what if it is? If the political view is that I want my little black girl to love her hair, and skip the years of self-hate I had about my hair – what’s the problem?