Jul 12, 2012

NATURAL PROFILE: Chelsea Loves Freedom and releases her locs

Initially, loc'ing my hair was supposed to be a transition style I would keep for a few years so I could allow my hair to recover from chemical processing. I still think of doing The Big Chop: Part II, but now that my hair is waist length, it's a little harder to let go of. When I saw my Spelman Sister and fellow yogi, Chelsea Jackson Tweet about unraveling her locs, I had to find out more.

How long did it take to comb out your locs? What process did you use?

I have calculated 67-80 hours. I know, crazy! It took between an hour to an hour and a half for each loc and I had 67 locs. I really did my research on the process. Believe it or not, I was inspired by a young lady I taught in the third grade who is now a teenager. She coached me over the phone. She is amazing! Thanks, Olivia!

Here are the steps I took:
  1. I soaked about three locs at a time in warm to hot water.
  2. I saturated the locs in conditioner and hair protein.
  3. I used a metal rat-tail comb to unravel each loc. The locs actually will unravel like a sweater.
  4. Since the process took a couple of weeks, I would double strand twist the loose hair and it blended into the hair that was still loc'ed.
I think it was helpful that my hair was never tightly loc'ed. I had very thick and chunky locs that were really free! 

What was the overall condition of your hair? Did you lose a lot of hair?

My hair was extremely healthy after the process. I had never experienced my natural hair that long and thick before in its loose state because I have had locs as long as I have had natural hair. It was really exciting! In terms of hair loss, I don't think I lost hair through the actual process, which is why it took so long. I did experience what seemed to be hair loss; however, I think it is important that we remember that locs hold on to dead hair. In actuality, I think the hair I saw was actually dead hair that coiled into the loc. 

We briefly discussed the patience involved in growing and releasing locs. What else did you experience during the process?

Can you say hallucinations? No, but really, it was a wild experience. Initially, when I realize that I could actually un-loc my hair, I was amazed and excited. The first couple of locs were so easy and then I encountered other ones they were not so easy. The process was definitely a metaphor for life and the challenges we face. I am in school working on my PhD and I often equate the experience to how I feel being in a five year doctoral program. First thought, "Wow, I can't believe I decided to do this." Next thought, "Wow, I'm really doing this." Followed by, "Am I crazy for doing this?" With an occasional, "I don't want to do this anymore, but I really don't want to give up." Finally, "Wow, I can't believe I did this! I didn't think I could, but I did.." And that was the most rewarding feeling I've experience in a while. Aside from, that, it gave me an opportunity to be alone and reflective. I was unable to talk on the phone while in the process, so I was able to practice silence and even meditate through each loc. Again, it was a wild ride, but I am so happy I stayed committed to it!

What products do you plan to use as your hair adjusts to the freedom?

I have been trying out different deep conditioners because I notice that dry hair isn't as detetrimental to locs as it is to loose natural hair because of breakage. I love Carol's Daughter Chocolate Smoothing shampoo, conditioner, and blow out cream. I have been playing around with different styles like blow outs, and roller sets. I even pressed my hair once! My favorite has to be my natural textured look with my natural kinks and curls. I love the Curls Unleashed "Set it Off Curl Boosting Jelly" for my wash and go's. I also have been keeping my hair moisturized with natural almond and coconut oils.

Any tips you would to pass along after your experience?

For Black women in particular, I think it is imperative that we love ourselves regardless of how we choose to wear our hair. Whether you wear it straight, curly, kinky, loc'ed, twisted, weaved, LOVE yourself first. Since the beginning of time the bodies of Black women have been policed and politicized by society and by each other. I loved my locs, I wore my hair loc'ed for 12 years of my life and I felt the need for a transition-that was my choice.

I have been faced with comments about my hair after combing my locs out mostly positive, some not so positive; however, the choice was mine to make. I don't feel any less "Black" when I choose to blow my hair out or straighten it. In that same breath, I don't feel any less beautiful when I rock a natural 'fro or my or my curly-coiled kinks.

I think the most beautiful thing about "our" hair is the versatility and freedom. I am so grateful to experience this freedom.

And that's just one reason to love Chelsea! 

Check out her blog at www.chelsealovesyoga.com 
Facebook at Chelsea Loves Yoga 
Twitter @chelseajaya
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