When it’s time to let go

Photo: Keston Duke/www.kestonduke.com

Our mission at Loc’d Life is to celebrate the beauty of locs. However, I know that after 10 years, maybe 20, some decide to part with the loc’d life. There are many reasons for this change. Maybe another style calls. Maybe it’s time to start another set of locs (some really do cut their locs and start them again.)

Meet Lenise NuNuu Smith, spoken word artist and publisher. After years of loc’dom, she decided to do the big chop in a whole other way. Here’s her story…

So how long have you had your locs?
I’ve had my locs for 11 years. I grew the entire length in 11 years.

What was your loc journey?
I grew up in a primarily West Indian population, which had a large influence on me. I did not want to be a Rastafarian, but I always admired them. I had long processed hair. People around me kept me from cutting my hair. Once I got away and attended Howard University, and it was just me, I started making my decision to cut it to start my locs.

Photo: Keith Claytor/www.timefrozen.com

How did you decide on the big chop?
I had afroenvy! I started seeing my style without them. Once I dreamt that someone cut my hair, and I would look in the mirror. I would wake up ready to fight somebody. More and more, as I looked in the mirror, I saw myself. I always believed in that song, I Am Not My Hair. A couple of days before, one woman said that I should never cut my hair because that is who I am. When I looked in the mirror, I saw myself, and I saw what people were defining me by. I saw that I am beautiful, even without my locs.

I stopped seeing myself with my locs, and I started letting them grow out. I didn’t realize how much I missed my true texture. I just went from processed hair to locs, and I didn’t have a chance to see my natural hair.

Photo: Keith Claytor/www.timefrozen.com

What did you do with all those locs?
They’re in a bag in the closet! I thought of making a wig of them, and someone told me to sell them. I just can’t part with them.

How do you feel after cutting them?
I feel awesome. I feel wonderful. I love my texture. My mother started perming my hair. I discovered I had three different textures growing in my hair. I am enjoying it. I’m always touching it!

What was your loc regimen, as most of my readers are always asking about loc maintenance?
I washed them with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile soap. Then, I started using an African Black Soap bar.

Did it lather a lot?
Yes, very much. I found the bar is easier to handle because you’re able to get into each loc. I used coconut oil or olive oil to moisturize, and I would just use regular gels—twist and loc gels. I tried so many!

Will you try locs again?
I might. I won’t say I won’t. I may loc again. I’ll see how my afro works.

Keith Claytor/www.timefrozen.com

What are some of your reflections on your journey of hair-and self-discovery?
It’s difficult not to define yourself by outward things. My hair, my clothes—these things do not define me. When you find yourself absorbing it, it’s a matter of knowing yourself. I don’t ever want to perm my hair. I love the flexibility. If you want to have a perm, wear a wig for a day. You don’t have to go by society’s standards of beauty. Do you really want to be standard? I want to stand out. I want to be unforgettable. If you like it, love it.

Tell me about you are doing now.
I am a spoken word artist. I’ve done poetry since 2003.  I started with open mics, then with two chat books. I have such a love for spoken word, I was getting features in New York. I’m also an actress. I’ve done three films, “My Father’s Shadow” and “Oil and Water,” and “Sister’s Betrayal.” I also have done theater. Two of my plays included For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Isn’t Enough” and The Wiz. I am also a publisher of S.L.A.M.M. Magazine (an acronym for Support Local Artists Movement Magazine), a magazine on spoken word and other artists.

‘Till next time,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine
(Click on the blog link to take you here.)


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