The journey back from locs – Pt 1

After 16 years, I’m ready to bid goodbye to my locs. The decision to loc my hair was not about fashion. It was about reconnecting with my core identity. It was about learning to love me without the trappings of white supremacy. I had been chemically straightening my hair since I was 15. After 15 years, my hair began to rot on my head. I’d run my hands through and come out with clumps. Chemical straightening is just unnatural. And my hair clearly no longer tolerated it well. It was time to really think about who I am and what I need to do to fix this.

Dreadlocks are most well known as a Rastafarian cultural tradition. It’s part of the religious identity to dispossess the self of western implements of beauty and ‘return’ to the natural way our hair is supposed to grow. The not combing part … I never did understand but that wasn’t important to me because mine had to be groomed for corporate Jamaica anyhow.

The process taught me patience because locs take time to form and grow. It taught me humility because hair doesn’t always do what you want it to and the only real way to manage that was to embrace the bad hair days. It taught me history. I spent a good amount of time learning the history of dreadlocks in Jamaica. It taught me pride in myself and my heritage.

Helped that it looked good too but that was simply a bonus.

But now it’s time to move on. For many reasons, it the most important is that after many years, groomed locs begin to thin and break.

So first of all, I need to show you just how much thinner my locs have gotten.

This photo doesn’t really show it well.

This one shows it better.

Having had thin hair naturally, starting my locs as thin as I did meant that within 10 years or so they would begin to naturally thin out. I’m sure age has a little to do with that as well. Heh. I’ve been agonizing over two locs in particular that feel like they are so thin they’ll break off here in a minute.

School is done and I am recuperating from the last couple of years. It struck me that now was the time to cut them off. I’m not working. I’m not really needing to be anywhere that requires my hair to be in perfect shape. I’ll start working in a few months (hopefully) and that wouldn’t be the time to experiment. Now is perfect.

And so I finally decided it was time to cut them off. I’d been waiting for the perfect time to travel into Stuttgartmitte to find a natural hair salon that I could trust with this step. But I’m impatient and I don’t have the time to spend with a stylist over months to build trust. It hit me that I could cut them off myself here at home. There have to be videos out there of people doing the big cut and advice on how to manage the transition. So while I lay awake until 4am this morning, I googled and YouTubed and found inspiration.

It’s time.

First order of business: make sure I have everything I need to do this – scissors, a wide-toothed comb (pick? dunno maybe), deep conditioner, and a shears on standby. I’ve got the scissors and shears. I just need a comb and the deep conditioner.

Next: how short am I going to cut it? At first I was going to go low but I think I’m going to start with about 4-5 inches. I can trim and shear from there. I have several different textures going on so I’ll have to work with it a bit to learn how each behaves when not loc’d.

(So fuzzy. 🤓)

So tomorrow: I go in search of a comb and conditioner. I might pop in to the barber and see whether there is anyone who can rescue me if I fuck this up badly enough.

I’ll cut tomorrow or Sunday. And I’ll document it as much as I can as I go.

Stay tuned. Big changes coming.