Living in a Virtual World…with Sisterlocks!

My Sisterlocks continue to thrive, even in during this pandemic. Thanks to God, I have managed to stay well and strong during the last six months, and my locs are maturing, greying, and growing each day.

It’s Labor Day! Now that I’m four years in and several of my friends are also loc’ed and loaded, I sometimes wonder why I didn’t lock my hair sooner. Without a doubt, before I got my install, I thought traditional locs were my only option. The maintenance of traditional locs didn’t appeal to me because of the product required, and the maintenance cost of Sisterlocks initially caused me to pause. As a professional educator, I knew I had to pay someone to “do my hair” on a regular basis (unless I wanted to use boxed relaxers at home and risk long-term damage, skin and scalp burns, limp strands).

For me, Sisterlocks has been such a wholesome expression of my own natural beauty and personal freedom that I have forgotten how it feels to wake up and wonder what to do with my hair. My installation and six-weeks’ maintenance cost has paid for itself many times over in less preoccupation and in fewer hours of sitting and waiting to be acknowledged, seen, assessed, shampooed, relaxed, dried, styled, sprayed, spritzed, and rescheduled to do it all again the very next week.

Ponytail Love: First Week of Virtual Learning – Wednesdays are always a good day to represent my Sorority ♥️🤍
Long Hair, Don’t Care: My Hair Appears Long in the Front, But It’s Actually Longer in the Back

Living with longer locs brings different concerns. I am not able to sleep with my locs free-flowing as I once enjoyed. Now, I must pull them up, away from my face at bedtime, to keep my face and skin hair-free. Every now and again, I can take a nap with my locs loose, but it’s rare.

After a Nap: The Secret Is to Push My Locs Off My Face
Ready for Night Night

My school district mandates the use of Microsoft TEAMS as our virtual learning platform. I’m constantly visiting virtual classrooms, so my hair needs to be neat and tidy. Updos and ponytails work on most days. But when I want to be free…

Footloose and Fancy Free
Braid out Beauty

Since my June reti and previous blog entry, I’ve had another reti. I have another reti scheduled in a few days-for Saturday, the 12th of September. Here are pictures from my July 31st session:

Living in a virtual world affords my hair all of the graces of indoor protection, temperature control and comfort, and freedom from the harshness of the Memphis heat and sun. I’m going to continue to allow my hair to grow and flourish under the watchful eyes of Zoom and Teams lenses. You never know who is admiring your journey and trying to decide if they want to take a magic carpet ride with you!

Until next time,

Andi D😘

Hair Professionalism 101

I’m a certified “Googler.” No, that’s too simplified…I’m a “Professional Googler.” Yep, I use Google (and its family of user-friendly apps) more daily than any other search engine and definitely more than any other app on my laptop or phone. Interestingly, a couple of days ago, my cousin, RJ, texted me, “Google professional hair and take a look at the images. Then Google unprofessional hair.” So, using my trusty smartphone, I followed his instructions. Under “Professional Hairstyles,” I saw several images of primarily Caucasian celebrities, model-types, and one recognizable brown face, actress Zoe Saldana. Most of the images displayed conservative hairstyles, coifed on very fair-skinned adults, mostly females with shoulder-length or longer tresses. I was like, “Okay…” So, I navigated to “Unprofessional Hairstyles,” and I immediately noticed the stark difference-hair and lots of it! Black hair, super’fros, twist outs, crimped hair, textured hair…4c hair…but wait? Unprofessional? Not only did I see several hair images of African-American female or dark-skinned adults, I saw comparison screenshots of “professional vs. unprofessional hairstyles” as Google images themselves under the search results, and I am saddened.

So, right now you’re asking me, “Girl, why are YOU so surprised? You know…” You can check out both screenshot search results below.

Unprofessional?!

At my age, I just can’t pretend to be naive about how people’s perceptions shape their beliefs and worldview. However, in 2016, I am shocked that these images would be so prevalent, and it makes me wonder…who in the heck compiles these images? Does Google compile them, a techie somewhere in a dark room just sitting there uploading pictures? How does a “face” or “hairstyle” become a Google image, an exemplar, a model of a search engine word or phrase? More important, how is the designation of “professional” vs. “unprofessional” assigned to a mere hairstyle…and by whom? Yes, I’m even shocked that Google didn’t assign an initial full page of scroll results with singular images of people of color, with their “unprofessional hairstyles.”

It made me wonder…if I were a Google image, would I, with my TWA, be a model of “professional” or “unprofessional” hair? We truly live in a sad world where a woman, who identifies as African-American, doesn’t have the luxury of presenting herself to the world as a “professional” because she chooses to wear her natural hair…well, naturally curly, kinky, coily, locked, wavy, frizzy, or nappy. If she does choose anything but the bone straight route, her own hair, that grows out of her head, brands her as “unprofessional.”

The pearls, yes, the pearls make me “professional.” Say what?!

Here’s a question for you: How many of us have straightened our hair to “soften” our image, appear more “put together or polished,” or allowed ourselves to be convinced that to be successful in mainstream industry, we must straighten our hair?

And here’s another question: How many of us long to wear our natural hair but fear the multi-textured reality of the hair we were born to embrace? If I can overcome that fear, so can you.

“There is a negative stigma attached to natural Black hair in the United States and frankly in most places of the world.” ~http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/natural-hair-and-professionalism/

Check out #5! She’s my undergraduate chapter Soror and a corporate executive who is wearing her natural hair beautifully and unapologetically: ~http://blackgirllonghair.com/2015/01/8-top-professionals-and-ceos-who-wear-their-natural-hair/

An example of our fears being much larger than our reality: “It was then that I realized that a lot of time we as naturals often put parameters and limitations on how we think our hair should look and be styled. I realized very quickly that I had the problem with how my hair looked thinking that it wasn’t “professional” enough, inappropriate or too “wild” for the workplace.” ~http://www.curlynikki.com/2012/10/natural-hair-in-corporate-world.html?m=1

We still have so far to go as it relates to diversity education, racial and ethnic tolerance, cultural misappropriation…and well, just acceptance of and respect for the choices of our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members, our lovers, our friends. And I ain’t even talking about hair.