Sister is the First Word in Sisterlocks for a Reason

So, I'm strolling through the Beauty Supply store. With Sisterlocks I hardly use any product in my hair but that doesn't stop me from frequently browsing the accessories aisle. A new clip, clamp, barrette or scrunchy is always fun to add to the arsenal. From my peripheral vision I see a lady coming towards me. To be polite I step out of her way but she stepped with me, and was so close I could hear her breathing. I'm thinking, "Hey, do I know you."

As a New Yorker, I'm a little hyper sensitive to intrusions on my personal space. If we're not jammed together on the subway during rush hour, you need to back up off me. When I turn to face the woman, I see she's not even looking at me, per se, but steady staring at my hair. Never making eye contact she said, "When are you gonna take your braids out?" Actually she whispered -- more to herself, than to me -- "When is she gonna take her braids out?" Did she mean to say that out loud? Who knows? At that moment I didn't care.

I've had locks for over seven years and sometimes it still bothers me when people mistake them for braids. This was one of those times. Part of it was her appearance. She worked at the store, which may explain why she was sporting colored contact lenses, enough makeup to embarrass a clown and a long, bone straight, auburn wig that would have done Cher proud. My first thought was, "Now I know SHE'S not accusing ME of having fake hair!" I'm not proud of it, but in that split second I judged her on her appearance and found her wanting.

On the positive side though, I remembered that it's vitally important to think before you speak and not speak everything you think. I was, after all, in a traditional urban beauty supply store where they may not get a lot of natural heads; and the ones they do get may be looking for products to chemically alter their hair.

I took a breath, smiled and said: "They're not braids, they're locks."
"Wow, they're so small. That must have taken a long time."
"Yeah, but it was worth it."

Whether I want to be or not, I'm a walking advertisement for natural hair in general and Sisterlocks in particular. The way I wear my hair and the way I respond to questions about it may inspire someone go down the path of natural hair or at least encourage them to get more information. How we wear our hair is a personal choice, but so much better when that choice is an educated and informed one.

What if I – and my locks that look like braids -- just happen to be the first stop on someone's quest for information? What if I put them off by being angry and judgmental of their choices? Then I've lost the opportunity to plant a seed, win a convert, make a friend.

Yes, I may get tired sometimes answering the same old questions, but what's old hat for me may be brand new to someone else. I remember when I was first wrestling with the decision to go natural. I asked a lot of people, a lot of questions, all the time. I owe everybody who answered me a debt of gratitude. I only know what I know now thanks to them. The least I can do is graciously pass it on.

Besides, a self righteous, holier than thou attitude is just not attractive; and my ego demands I be cute inside and out.

NOTE: I'm sorry I've been away from my SL Blog for sooooo long. I am deeply touched by all the comments and emails that so many of you have sent me in the time I've been gone. For new visitors, all the pertinent information about my Sisterlocks journey is pretty much here in the archives. I've had my SL's for 7 + years now and I grow happier with them everyday! I'm not sure how often I'll post back here, but I invite you to visit my website www.VeryFunnyLady.com and read my weekly humor column at www.ComicPerspective.com. Locks of Love, Leighann