2.75 Years Loc’ed!

Happy New Year, my friends! I know it’s mid-March…it’s been some time since I posted a new entry. I must chalk it up to being busy-acclimating to my new job and returning to work, in general. Having a few months off was great, and now that I’ve returned to the work I love, it seems my hair is thriving, too! Below (camo jacket with Vandy alumni tee) is a pre-reti pic I took nine days before my scheduled retightening in late January.The pictures (above and below) in the red tee are from my January 27th retightening. I asked my consultant to display the parts so that you could see more “scalpy” images to get a sense for how much work it is to maintain your locs properly. She touches every single loc, each time I have my six-week retightening sessions. I prefer to come to her with my hair freshly shampooed (the morning of my reti).As you can see, the locs are varied sizes, lengths, and shapes. They are each evolving in their own way. The pictures below are from my most recent reti, March 9th. I’m noticing that my locs are a little less frizzy and more defined. Now that warm weather is on the horizon, they’ll get an opportunity to be more exposed to the sun and the ends of my hair tend to turn upwards – toward the sun. ☺️

Now that my hair is getting longer, I’m going to experiment more with twist outs and updos over the next few weeks. I can’t wait to share those looks with you!

Be back soon!

Andi D😘

50 Years Old and Two and a Half Years Loc’ed

Happy New Year!

November 1st ushered in a milestone birthday for me: Welcome, Andi, to that Half-Centenarian Life! I can go on and on and on…and on about the hormonal changes, the metabolic changes, the mindset shifts, and the many ways that I am choosing to embrace being 50, and I’m here for ALL of it! Thank God that I’m in relatively good health (no chronic or debilitating illnesses), but I could stand to lose some weight and make time for consistent exercise. While I’m also feeling a need to accept some things about my body, how it responds to foods I love, and how much more important it is for me to balance comfort as the primary reason for fashion, I realize at this age, I really do think less of what people think about me – not because that’s naturally who I am, but because the energy I must expend to please others is just too exhausting. “Keeping up with the Joneses” by making sure I have the latest fashion accessories, highest-heeled shoes, expensive make-up palettes, spa-like body treatments, and trend-setting clothes is way low on my priority list. I’m pretty happy with extensive comfort and a self-care regimen that is consistent, scheduled, and centered on my hair, hands, feet, and skin.

My “crown of glory” continues to reign supreme among my self-care priorities. I remain on a retightening schedule of every six weeks, although my consultant and I are noticing a “growth spurt” over the past several months. I stopped taking biotin supplements for about six months and recently restarted taking one 10,000 mcg daily, so this may explain the spurt. I’m also lessening my sugar intake, so that may also factor into my overall healthy hair benefits.

Below are pictures of my November 4th retightening session. I asked my consultant to take more “scalpy” shots to show how each loc is sectioned. My hair is still evolving; the frizzy, fuzzy strands of this teen stage lessens each shampoo.

I’m still amazed by the growth I’ve seen within just a three month calendar span:

Below are pictures of my December 16th retightening session.

I can see the “hangtime” for real now, and I’m thankful that the versatility of Sisterlocks means that my thick hair is not hot and heavy. These hot flashes ain’t no joke!

Turning 50 and recognizing how blessed I am to still be here, happy, healthy, and among my good friends and loving family, means I get to do a few things I’ve always wanted to do. When I was 16, I had a left ear cartilage piercing that I allowed to close because it was taking so long to heal. Well, I revisited that piercing a few days ago and opted for a double piercing (both ears). Here’s the video of my right ear being pierced:

And the left…I’m telling my cousin, Randy, “It hurts, but it’s tolerable.” I plan to have many more experiences like this in 2019. After all, YOLO!

January 2019 will bring new opportunities within my career as well. I’m beginning a new role, and I’m so fortunate to do what I love as I continue to grow and stretch as a K-12 instructional leader. What lies ahead of me is so much greater than what I leave behind. I truly feel that in my spirit.

Here’s to an awesome beginning to 2019 for you, my friends! God’s peace and blessings to you and yours!

Andi D 😘

Summertime Loc Down!

Finally! It’s getting hot outside, and as much as I enjoy the freedom of locs, I must admit, the longer they get, the more I’m wondering if this southern heat will cause me to explore some different styles this summer. Or will I remain locked inside, hiding from the miserable heat…on loc down. Without a doubt, Summer 2018 promises to be a busy one for me. I’ll do a bit of traveling, for business and for pleasure, but the majority of my time will be spent in Tennessee and Arkansas where the day (and much of it heated sunlight) illuminates no less than 14 hours.

I recently traveled to Newark, NJ and Brooklyn, NY to visit two high schools, both Uncommon Schools, and learn about some of their routines and procedures – really to see if I could “borrow” any school wide routines to share with the staff and students at my own school. Interestingly, I couldn’t help but notice, since overwhelmingly the students were brown and black, that many of the young ladies wore weaves, wigs, and colorful hair pieces which seemed in stark contrast to the natural and unprocessed hair styles worn by my high school students in Arkansas. I couldn’t gauge whether the differences spoke to accessibility, economics, or some heightened sense of beauty, self-awareness, or individuality. I specifically remember one girl’s very long and very pink hair (weave) and thought to myself, “That would never fly at my school.” But, it made me think more deeply about why, exactly, it might not “fly.” Was it a distraction? Was it unnatural? Was it unprofessional? Was it a violation of the student dress code policy? Yes…to all questions, but yet, this young lady proudly walked the halls of her school, oblivious to the fact that a stranger, yes I, was judging her: her college-readiness, her professionalism, her upbringing, her home life, her future goals and aspirations…because of her pink hair. It was a “Prom ‘do,” I was told, and I suspect it won’t last to see graduation day. It’s instinctive; people judge others, based on their appearance. It’s not right, it’s not fair. It just is.

In the midst of my hair-watch patrol, I had a great time in Newark! My locs enjoyed the early morning and evening eastern breezes. This picture (mauve tee) was taken while I was in Newark, about eight days after my last retightening.Textures! That’s what I most appreciate about my locs in this “teen stage.” They continue to evolve, and the frizziness is becoming less and less as each loc becomes more compact and stiff, especially on the ends. In the picture above, I’m twisting on my locs, as I often do, waiting on my Frank to finish pumping gas and thinking about my vacation with my mom to St. Louis this week.

The photos below show my latest retightening results. My last reti was May 20th, which was at seven weeks because we’ve had to adjust my summer retis to accommodate my school leader training in Chicago. My consultant displays my scalp so that you can see her work, but also you can see how healthy my hair and scalp are. I don’t have a flaky or itchy scalp, and my only maintenance between retis is my ten-day at-home shampoo using Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap (diluted liquid). I dry my hair using a black towel (squeeze, squeeze, scrunch), and allow it to air dry on its own. I typically shampoo my hair 2-3 hours before bedtime, and I sleep with the ceiling fan on just to make sure air continues to circulate around my head/hair since all of my locs may not be completely dry. So far, this drying strategy has worked well for my length. I may have to use a cool dryer by year’s end.One of the things I’m noticing about my locs at this stage is that a few of them, especially around my sides of my head (my sleep sides) are weakening and are thinning in the middle of the loc. Because I have such thick hair, it’s not noticeable to the average person, but I see them and wonder if I should just let them be. I’ve pointed out one or two to my consultant, and she joins them when they become weakened.

The photo above is a pre-reti photo that I took for an ID badge-looks better than my driver’s license photo…which, by the way, was taken six years ago with a fresh post-wedding relaxer. Things have certainly changed! Ain’t no lye – about that!

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Hangtime…Well, Almost!

One of the great things about rounding out the first year is the growth you experience in Year Two of Sisterlocks. My hair has grown tremendously over the past six months, and as I reach my second year anniversary in July, I’m looking forward to how much my hair will evolve over the next five months.

I had my last retightening, the first one of 2018, on January 6, 2018. Below are pictures of my retightening and the six-week return of my grid. Excuse my lack of make-up; a little bit of sunscreen is about all I can muster on retightening mornings.

I’m starting to get a little “hang-time” now. When I compare this picture from July 1, 2017:

to this one from February 10, 2018, the growth is evident.

My second retightening for 2018 was today, Sunday, February 18th. Here are a few “before” pictures as I stood in the elevator on my way to the salon:

Clearly, my grid is hidden with six weeks of new growth.

During my retightening, here is a shot of the back of my head as she is working her magic:

A few more shots of the retightening’s completion:

My consultant has strategically placed my locs above so that you can see the edges and the precision of her work. Each time I visit her salon, I’m more pleased with the end result.

My next retightening is scheduled for Good Friday. Have a great Spring Break!

Until then,

Andi😘

New Year, New Hair Resolutions for 2018!

Happy New Year, everyone! The beginning of a new year and all of the promise it brings is upon us-which is the perfect time to reset, rejuvenate, recommit, and revolutionize ourselves to accomplish the goals, big and small, that we have set for 2018. This last year, 2017, was good to me!

In 2017, I became more confident and secure in my personal and professional image, and while not all agree that Sisterlocks represent the safe, Eurocentric, and professional look that appeals to the average HR Executive, Head Hunter, or Hiring Manager, I have resolved that who I am, in truth and in light, can no longer be denied. My hair is only one part of my complexity, but it sets the stage for who I am on most days and in most situations: natural, individualistic, untamed, and expressive.

This year (and if God says “Yes”), I will see 50 years of life-a milestone, and the Me that you see is definitely the Me who I want to continue to evolve, and grow, and reflect so that I can continue living my best life. During 2017, my hair experienced much growth. When I look at the picture above (green camo jacket)…and the one below (yellow gold sweater),

a year has made quite the difference in terms of my hair growth and regimen. My locs were professionally installed in late July 2016, and at the one-year “lockversary,” in July 2017, I acquired a new consultant. Over the past six months, I’ve been pleased with her care of my locs. I’ll see her again the first week of January, and like all of our previous visits, I expect her eagle-eyed attention to detail, that she touch and retighten each loc, that she inspect each loc for optimal health and make repairs as necessary, and that I leave her satisfied with the service, consistent cost, look, and feel of my hair.

I made the decision a while back to shampoo my own hair regularly. This is my way of staying connected to the process and the maintenance of my locs. For nine months following my installation, my former consultant was the only person, including myself, who groomed my locs. Now, I enjoy my bi-weekly shampoos and separation of my locs while they air dry.

Here are my Hair Resolutions for 2018:

  1. This year, 2018, I resolve to hydrate much more so that my locs can reap the natural benefits of that hydration. I want to be more intentional about ingesting more purified water in general-herbal teas, waters infused with lemon, ginger, or fruit-as a healthy part of my daily hydration.

This year, 2018, I resolve to stick to a ten-day shampoo cycle so that I am shampooing my hair roughly three times a month. At the end of each quarter (every three months), I will add a ACV rinse to the shampoo cycle for extra cleansing and purification.

Lastly, this year, 2018, I resolve to share more up-close and personal pictures of my hair health and challenges so that those of you who are new to this process (or just curious about the look and maintenance of locs) can have a more personalized tour of my locking process.

I’m feeling good about where this Sisterlocks journey has brought me. I live for and love the compliments about my hair, even the certainty that for some, that may be all that they really like about me. My hair is a part of who I am, and whatever the feeling, whatever the sentiment, whatever the articulation, I appreciate the acknowledgement that the confidence and ease you sense in my presence has much to do with where I am at this point in my life. God is good, and I’m ALL good!

Until we meet again,

Andi 😘

Loc’ed Life! 16 Months In “The Game”

Since I posted my last blog entry, I’ve celebrated another birthday 🎉, experienced a personal health scare🚑, earned a career promotion💃🏾, accepted the reality that both of my parents are aging…like, for real 📆, and resolved that this next year of life-leading to the half century mark-will be my best year EVER🏆! Of all of those happenings over the past eight weeks, the ONLY two things that have remained consistent, unyielding, and certain are the love I have for and from my family, friends, and colleagues AND my hair. 🤗

This may sound weird…but the personal trials and tribulations I’ve encountered recently made me think about how things might have differed IF my hair was not locked, and on top of balancing the dynamics of life, I had to “do” my hair (or pay someone else to “do” my hair). I am convinced that the time i would have spent “doing” my hair and scheduling hair appointments on top of all of the other commitments I have, would have pushed me over the top-into a frenzied world of “it’s just too much.”

While many women see salon appointments as an escape to quiet, focused self-care; an opportunity to relax, read, catch up on social media pages…a spa-like indulgence, in my mind, the “hair thing” would have been just another thing to do, another daily obligation, another task that would take me away from full rest, simply another appointment to schedule and meet and do all over again the next day and week.

I’ve been wearing my locks for 16 months now, and as they continue to evolve, I realize that I, too, am evolving in so many ways. I truly feel that my hair is a metaphor for God’s hands in my life and each lock represents a singular blessing. Wherever I go, strangers compliment my hair. Every opportunity I have to discuss the freedom of my locked style is an opportunity to counsel someone who may need the motivation to take the step toward hair freedom. It’s not a style for everybody, but it is a lifestyle that everybody can appreciate if they want to know more about it.

A week from today, I’ll have another reti, so I’ll be back sooner than later with more pictures. My hair is growing like a weed!

Until then,

Andi 😘

Good Hair Dayz Ahead of Me!

Just a quick update…I’m so pleased to write that I’ve been having some good hair days lately. I’m not sure if it’s the second year of confidence with my locs, how I’m feeling about my image in general, inevitably approaching the half-century mark, or the fact that my hair is getting longer and fuller…I’m so in love with my locs!

Like most, I have that one wayward Loc that is scrawny and always asserts itself. There she is! I have just been watching her to see what happens…
Even though my “brace face” is here to stay (a while longer), my hair even makes wearing braces more tolerable. I missed my last adjustment, so I can kiss the possibility of removal goodbye in time for my 49th birthday. 😩

<<<<<
fully, my locs continue to evolve. I’m noticing how solid the tips are now. They used to be very curly and soft. They have firmed, stiffened even, and appear more mature.

<<<<<
s are definitely thick, like a bushy ‘fro…I love the look! I can be ready in five minutes no matter where I’m going. My hair is never an excuse for tardiness or failures to show. I’m where I need to be…always.

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am with my cousin, Randy, on a recent cruise to Mexico. We had a ball!

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est reti finds me happy and my hair healthy. My consultant is doing a splendid job maintaining my retis every six weeks. I remain grateful to my friend, Marsha, for introducing me to her.

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ck of my Locs – post-retightening session on 10/15/17. Getting some hang time now! I’m still only shampooing every two weeks with peppermint Castile soap and every other day spritz of Rose water.

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re post-reti pics:

< a href=”https://andislocks.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/img_1663.jpg”&gt;<<<<<
my hair styled forward, covering my broad forehead, on most days. The style above is surely a different look, and I’ll probably gravitate toward that look once my hair gets too long to wear bangs.

My Sisterlocks still remain the best hair decision EVER! Until next time…<<<<<
t;<<<<
gt;

Questions about Sisterlocks – Up Close and Personal

One of the inevitabilities of deciding to wear your hair in its natural state…you know, the way it grows from your scalp…is some of the unusual questions people ask you about your hair. Some of the questions are rude (not maliciously so in 99% of the cases), but most derive from ignorance about black hair, in general, and the motivations of black women who choose to wear their hair in its natural state, specifically. 


These are some of the questions (or blanket statements) I encounter on the regular:

How long are you going to wear your hair “like that”?

The installation of Sisterlocks is not only an emotional investment, but a financial one. The cost of the installation of Sisterlocks is not akin to a micro-braiding session; you’re going to drop off some cheese for a professional installation. This fact, alone, means that Sisterlocks is not simply a temporary hairstyle, but a lifestyle. To answer the question…I am going to wear my hair like this until I die. 


How long are you going to let your locks grow?

When I wore my hair cropped and relaxed, the hairstyle dictated frequent cuts, relaxer retouches, shavings, and regular maintenance. I chose to cut my hair to maintain a distinct hairstyle-short, cropped, and relaxed. At this point in my maturation, I’m quite fascinated by the growth pattern of healthy, natural hair in adult women. Shrinkage is a certainty, but even with the shrinkage, my hair, after one year of Sisterlocks, is longer than it has been since 2000-proof that even while I am aging in years, my hair thrives in its natural state. To answer the question…I have no plans to cut my hair during the first five years of my Sisterlocks growth.



How does your husband feel about your Sisterlocks? 

To answer the question…I don’t care how My Frank feels about my Sisterlocks. He is bald and chooses to maintain that look for himself. I choose Sisterlocks, and I maintain the look for myself. Here we are smooching when my locs were babies. I guess…he “aight” wit it. ☺️

How often do you shampoo your hair? I mean, don’t they “stink” after a while? I knew this guy with dreadlocks…

I suppose if you don’t shampoo your hair regularly, it won’t be appealing in numerous ways. One of the things I learned during my research of loc styles is that your hair should not be shampooed as often as relaxed hair or even other natural hair styles. The locs need an opportunity to well, lock, so water is not a friend to that particular process. The maintenance of Sisterlocks does not include the application of a daily hair care product, so you don’t have the normal attractants that cause hair to smell or cause product build-up. If you work out a lot, sweat profusely, or add products to your locs (a “no-no”), you’ll need to shampoo more often. To answer the question…when my locs were forming, for the first nine months, my hair was professionally shampooed every 5-6 weeks during my retightenings. Once my locs were formed well enough to shampoo on my own, I shampooed once between my retightenings, or every three weeks. Now, I shampoo with a clarifying shampoo (no conditioner) every two weeks and follow-up with a rosewater spritz every other day. Pictured below is the brand of rosewater I use full-strength, and I purchase it in bulk from Amazon.


How much do your Sisterlocks cost?

It’s impossible for me to answer. Each head of hair differs. The density, length, and overall health of your tresses will determine the installation cost and periodic retightening cost. Prepare yourself by saving for the installation. The region of the country where you live may impact the cost, as well as the proficiency of your consultant or trainee. At this point in my Sisterlocks progression, I pay $25 per hour for my retightening sessions which happen every five weeks. 

Do you ever miss your relaxed hair? I mean, your hair was sooooo cute, Andi!

That’s a resounding, “No!” Followed by all the nopes in Nopedom. There was a time and there was a place. I’m good now…I promise.

Until next time,

Andi D 😘

Change, Decision-Making, and the Sense of Loss

As with any significant change in life, you reflect on what happened immediately before and immediately after the transition-sometimes just to gauge whether or not the changes you made were for your own personal benefit, to benefit others, a total error in judgment, or the best decision you could have made given the facts or knowledge you had at the time.

In my school leadership training, one of the most impactful realities for me is the true sense of loss that you or others may feel when faced with change. For educators, being good often is just good enough, and the time, commitment, and energy it takes to be great (which, ultimately, makes children great) is rationalized as “above the pay grade,” “too much work,” “too difficult given the population, parent engagement, historic performance levels, test scores, etc.”

Still, I think about the new teacher in me, that 1998 teacher, that 2002 teacher who struggled with understanding how changing my thinking, just the slightest bit, to do my part, was merely a piece of a much larger part to positively impact student achievement. Internalizing how big the problem is negates your ability to do your part. Reflecting on how many children are behind grade level negates your ability to do your part. Bitching and moaning about overpaid administrators, low teacher pay, and apathetic Central Office Staff negates your ability to do your part. Challenging an innovative practice in favor of nurturing an ineffective one negates your ability to do your part. Change is, in large part, about the decision-making process, and where there is the least bit of indecision, your ability to do your part will be impeded.

But, what does all of that have to do with hair, Andi? Speaking of change…

Motivated by the fitness results of a good friend and colleague, in late-Spring 2013, I joined an outside, Marine Corps-style fitness program called USMC Fitness Boot Camp (www.usmcfitnessbootcamp.com) run by commanding officer and founder, Sgt. Tony Ludlow. By the time school ended in late May, I was over the initial soreness and exhaustion one feels when you finally start “taking care of” your body. For all of June and most of July 2013, I was determined to jumpstart my weight loss goals and work hard, on most days twice a day for an hour each, sweating, running, lifting weights, along with cardio/fat-burning exercises under the watchful, comedic eye of Sgt. Ludlow. All was well until I noticed the condition of my relaxed hair. I remember feeling a great deal of resentment about my normal routine of going to the beauty shop weekly or bi-weekly. Since I was too tired to style my hair, only to go right back out into the Memphis heat, sweat profusely, and destroy any semblance of a “style,” I needed a Plan B. More important, it was a huge waste of money to even visit a salon for professional hair care, so I got the bright idea to “go natural.”

“Going natural” did not have any significance attached to it other than making my life easier so that I could do what I wanted to do over my summer vacation-work out and take better care of my health. My relaxed hair was an impediment; it was in the way. So, I cut it off. Just that simple. I didn’t discuss it with anyone, and I cut it myself. It was imperfect, and I was not trying to make a fashion or political statement…I just wanted to work out everyday and rest my body when I wasn’t working out. I never went to a professional stylist or barber; my mom clipped away  any “loose ends,” and I tried to make the most of it for about eight weeks.

In my very first post, I briefly discuss that my husband is not a fan of short hair, so as soon as his criticism of the “look” became uncomfortable for me, I succumbed to the pressure and went back to a relaxed, short cut. Luckily, school was about to start again so my exercise activity would lessen. I did not mourn the loss of my natural ‘do. In fact, I was a bit relieved. “Going natural” is more work than people think. I would even venture to say, reflecting on my two most recent experiences with natural hair, having relaxed hair makes you lazy about hair care, in general. I never cared as much for my relaxed hair as evidenced by the ways I now love on my natural hair. That’s the cold, hard truth.

Here I am arriving to a morning Boot Camp session, June 2013:

And again…sometime Summer 2013. My hair was pretty much one length all over, and at that point, it had not been permanently color-treated since the late 90’s. From time to time, when I my hair was newly relaxed, I would add a semi-permanent dark rinse to infuse rich, shiny color. 

That encounter with my natural hair at 45 years of age was short-lived because I lacked the motivation to continue to care for my hair in its natural state. I was looking for support in order to maintain the look, the state of being, and when it was lacking, I folded.

My mother has worn her natural hair for several years now. Yes, I look very much like my mother in this picture of her:

She, like my cousin Len, isn’t shy about wearing a wig every now and then. Here she is on my Wedding Day wearing a salt and pepper number:

While I’m sharing the maternal side, here’s a peek at my father:

With a finer textured hair, my father was fresh from the barber shop in the picture above, but in the one below, his hair is a bit longer:

But, again, what does all of that have to do with hair, Andi? 

To me, there is a certain authenticity in making the decision, finalizing the decision to wear your hair in its natural state. The authenticity I craved was somehow connected to my entire being…hair was just a part of it. I wasn’t ready to be authentic, nor vulnerable enough to let others see my natural hair in 2013. I didn’t want to answer questions. I didn’t want to deal with the loss of relaxed control. I didn’t want to deal with styling trials and tribulations. I didn’t want to think too hard about what it really meant to wear my hair natural.

I’m so over that.

You Would Be…If Only…

How many of us have heard the accusatory words, “You would be…if only…”? The words imply not only that you’ve done something wrong or that you’re not quite good enough, but that the person stating their opinion knows exactly what would cure your deficit and make you more acceptable in their sight. Even if stated in a loving manner, these words, more often than not, hurt us.

Courtesy of Quotesgram.com
So many times, I have reflected on myself, my friends, my family and the countless conversations about what each of us would change about ourselves, if we could. Some of the changes are purely physical-my spider veins, his skinny legs, her love handles. Or the conversation might center on emotional strength-my weaning patience, his lack of commitment, her intolerance for diversity. Perhaps the issue is deeper-Am I enough? Is he stronger than he thinks? Is she capable of moving in the right direction? All point us to a place of questioning ourselves, our intentions, our efficacy, and our innate ability to make smart choices. What makes the situation sticky? It is our insistence that the opinions of others really don’t matter to us. But should they?

Courtesy of Inspirations.allwomenstalk.com
Many of us have suffered in familial relationships where we have felt the discouraging sting of not being accepted fully because of how we act or look on any given day. Experimentation or just “being ourselves” is often discouraged, and we are reminded that how we look and act represents “the family,” “your people,” or “the legacy.” I’m not a parent, but I can imagine the agony any parent might associate with the actions or activities of their offspring which may cast a disparaging light on the family. As an educator, I’ve often attended parent-teacher-student conferences and heard the very words, “We didn’t raise you like that.” The admonishment is just as embarrassing to hear as it is to make; the implication is that you would be pleasing to me if only you did what I raised you to do which is always the “right” thing.

Courtesy of Picturequotes.com
In romantic relationships, control often is exercised by one partner or the other when stating those disapproving words, “You would be…if only…”. While we know that we teach others how to treat us, if someone you love disapproves of you, it is not only hurtful, but unsettling to your sense of well-being. Unfortunately, insecurities may settle in and become the basis of our future dealings, which may, in fact, cause irreparable harm if the relationship is new, developing, or uncertain. Sometimes, the actual words may not be spoken, but a disapproving glance, the silence associated with an anticipatory acceptance, or the communication of distaste to others builds resentment and detachment in romantic relationships.

Courtesy of Cartoonstock.com
In friendships, we say that we want transparency and honesty; however, when we hear those words, “You would be…if only…,” we feel judged. Unconditional acceptance, while it is desired, is not truly expected from our friends. We hope that verbal criticism is constructive, in our best interest, and extended in love. What happens when it’s not? What happens if your friend criticizes the fit of your new dress, and you disagree with her assessment? What if the issue is semi-permanent, like your new platinum blond hair against your cocoa brown skin? The criticism takes on a whole other feel. Not only is your new hair color an issue, the skin you’ve always been in is now an issue. Or is it still really about the hair? Can you truly be a friend if you withhold judgement when your friend is traveling a slippery fashion slope? Can the friendship survive a dose of honesty that is based on an opinion?

Truly loving yourself comes from being self-aware and forgiving of your flaws. It means that larger than average nose you inherited from your dad’s side is loved. It means those curvy hips and thighs you got from your momma are cherished. It means those teeny tiny boobs you were born with are yours to adore. It means that propensity you have to use strong expletives to signal disapproval is managed. Can you be proactive and physically modify that less than perfect nose, those challenging hips and thighs, the small breasts, your fussing and cussing side? Sure! When you encounter another, who attempts to place a value on your connectedness based on how you act or look, you may re-examine your flaws. This re-examination can be healthy, particularly if the flaw causes dissension or a disagreeable nature that prevents others from connecting with you. Sometimes change is what we need.

Courtesy of Pinterest.com
Now that I have made the best hair resolution for me, which just so happens to be the decision to never again chemically alter my natural hair, I needed to get through a period of uncomfortableness with what my hair represented, not just to me but to those I choose to love. Every day, I grow more certain that I could be anyone except me if I don’t learn how to balance my perceptions. Before I big-chopped, I had all of the lengthy conversations in my mind about the image of me. Although I’m just six months into my journey, I’m still amazed when my friends or family ask me about coloring my hair, cutting my hair, or “styling” my hair. Yes, I’m always pleasantly surprised when anyone says, “I love your hair, Andi!” I’m even more thrilled to hear, “I love that YOU love your hair, Andi!” And even if those words are never uttered by those I love, deep down inside, I continue to expect the freedom from judgement…I expect the “You would be…if only…” thoughts to remain somewhere dangling in their own head, and more appropriately, on their own hair.

 

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Me, Loving The Skin and The Hair I’m In