3/11/2009

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."
"Really?"
"Yes."
"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

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you soooooooo much for coming back. i thought you forgot about us. i always check to see if you've updated your blog. i look forward to hearing from you again...hopefully soon about your hair. i've missed you! even though i don't personally know you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update... you handled that woman very well and I too have to first take a deep breath first realizing I am a representative of Sisterlocks and must not allow people to talk down about our choice to lock our hair. I have been locked now for 8 1/2 years and like you feel this was the best decision I've ever made. Be blessed

ayankha said...

Ahhhhh, Leighann youre back! It's so good to read your post.

Because of you and Brunsli detailing your experience and even answering personal Qs, I've had SLs for 3+ years now. I wholeheartedly agree with how you handled that situation. I found myself in a similar situation a year or so ago.

Because of your great attitude and the many others like yours, I'm sure you've converted many to not just go natural, but also that it's okay to love oneself- in one's natural look.

Good post!

QueenLi said...

Well Hello Stranger! :)

Welcome back! Welcome back!
Just when you decided to come back, I am taking a few months away from my blog {posting anyway},
but when I have a little "down time" at work, I will lurk around other Hair blogs. I kept my first set of locks over 8 yrs. but they are gone now. {click my name to see my blog} I am starting a new set from ext. braids.. I've had them a year now, and I don't mind people thinking they are braids, it is helping my present situation.

Take Care LeighAnn~ :)

Chocolata said...

Well hello stranger, it's great to hear from you. It has been a long time. I'm glad to hear that you're doing well, and I totally agree with how you handled your situation in the beauty supply store. We are walking advertisements for Sisterlocks and natural hair in general. I would love for every Sister to know the liberation, affirmation and freedom of Sisterlocks or any natural hairstyle, and would hate to put anyone off by being siditty, even though the inquiries are repetitive and sometimes mindless. Well done my sister!

Don't stay away so long...

Leighann said...

Ladies, Thank you so much for reading. I'm touched that I've been so missed. :-) I will definitely try not stay away so long.

Loosethreads said...

Hi Leighann,
I had been a long time follower of your blog. You have been away for such a long time. I was editing my "favorites" today and decided to see if you were back yet. To my surprise you were. It will be 3 years locked in June. I have absolutely no regrets, I just love my hair. Will you ever bring your comedy to San Diego?

Welcome back!!!

BlaqKofi said...
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BlaqKofi said...

My friend, I've missed you and your humorous, insightful writing. Loved the post - and you are, indeed beautiful inside and out. Keep doing what u'r doin. U know you have a fan and friend in me.

brunsli said...

You deserve a gold star!

Anonymous said...

Leighann

You don't know me, but through investigating your archives, I made the choice of getting sisterlocks two years ago. I have to say thanks for sharing your journey and all of your information. It made my final decision easier. And when others ask about my hair, I often send them to your archives. Job well done.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back! My fiance saw your pictures on your comedy site and commented on how much he loved your styles. I got the hint! :):):)

So I've been scouring your sisterlocks site for tips on curling, styling, updos, etc. It helps so much!

And now I'll know what to do for our wedding

Amba said...

Hi Leighann, lovely to have a post from you after decades. Glad you are still enjoying the journey and sharing the Sisterlocks message. God bless.

Detra said...

I am so glad you wrote this post. I always felt slightly juvenile about it, but I have to admit, I too get annoyed when I am looked at or approached as if I have a braid weave. I find myself looking at the women who have the braid weave and saying to myself, no way, my locks look like that....LOL...BUT you have made a WONDERFUL point about how we represent natural beauty and to carry ourselves as such even under the attack of ignorance.

BTW...Welcome Back!

anthia-ofo said...

I'm glad to see you back. Yours was one of the blogs I lurked in, in the early days whilst I was deciding about SLS. I've had mine a year now.

Sisterlock Adoration said...

Thanks for coming back to us. Even though I'm also guilty of not posting regularly,it's amazing how many times I come to your blog hoping for an update and leaving a little disappointed. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise to find an update! Glad you're doing well.

Meikmeika said...

You were also one of the first Sisterlock blogs I happened upon to aide in making my decision to loc. You are an amazing inspiration, regardless how often you update. Just keeping your blog available to new-comers and prospective sisterlockers is enough in itself.

Docs Locs said...
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Docs Locs said...

OMG! How did I miss this post - a rare treat.

Peace,
DL

Genevieve said...

OMG. How funny. I just posted something like this a sisterlock website about an incident I had sort of like yours where I was the one gawking - yes girl eyes wide open, straight drooling - at another sister's locks.. not sister locks. When I complimented her and asked her about her locks she reacted like I had done something terrible to her. Now I don't live in NYC but thank you for keeping an open mind when we - soon to be locked folk - approach you. I am completely obsessed with them and naturally before I take the plunge I want to know as much as I can at your (and others) expense....So Sorry! But natural hair and all the different textures and colors are beautiful. I keep thinking why in the world did I torture myself before now? Don't get me wrong I am wearing braids because I am afraid to interact with MY natural hair, but everyone else's looks fantastic and I can't wait to get started... just got to get a little longer and find the RIGHT consultant..... All this to say, thanks for keeping your cool....

Aya said...

Very well stated. So glad to hear from you again

Maryee said...

So happy to hear the updates. Jen just go back from the Bronx today! Much blessings!!!!!

Naturally Sophia said...

Bravo! I loved this post and we all miss you so much!

Olivia Shaw's blog said...

You are absolutely right! "Sister" is the first word of sisterlocks. Sisterlocks requires patience and trust between sisters. Although I have had good and bad experiences with my locks, I have no regrets ..
http://oliviajewelshaw.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-sisterlock-journey.html