What does it mean to be loc’d?
Burt Ashe’s insightful essay, “Invisible Dreads” from Twisted: The Dreadlocks Chronicles and the Politics of Hair, discusses his views on locs and his road to loc’dom. He mentions the “transparency” of locs as a style that reveals the wearers identity, and as a “Rorschach test” many look at and project onto what they want to see. That sounds fascinating.
First, let’s talk about identity. Even as India.Arie sings “I Am Not My Hair,” many define themselves through their hair—and are sometimes defined by it. Look at the number of hair extensions and weaves done in salons nationwide. Look at the beauty shop, a cultural institution where one ritually straightens out one’s natural hair texture from week-to-week or every other month. Witness the natural hair movement, where as many as one in three African American women wear their hair naturally. See the billions of dollars African Americans spend on their hair care. Witness the rapidly growing movement of locs as a popular style. Clearly, whether we care to admit it or not, a lot of resources and energy are spent on our hair. Both create a look that matches our personality. Both enhance and help define our image in a particular culture. Both help us evolve into a style that emanates from the soul and truly reflects who we are or who we have become.
Locs are no exception. For many loc wearers, locs are either a revelation or an evolution. It is a revealing of the wearer’s identity. They’ve been through the blowouts, the touchups, the struggle to maintain a straightened texture and have forsaken them all for emancipation. Locs are also an evolution. Many see the style at first and may not give it a second thought. Gradually, a yearning grows within until that is all the potential wearer desires. Finally, after contemplation, they arrive at loc’dom.
Locs are also the “Rorschach test” Ashe describes, standing to be viewed by all and to be the recipient of what is projected upon them. Are they professional? Do they fit my or society’s norms? Do they fit my immediate culture? The answers to each are as varied as those who wear them and those who gaze upon them.
As I’ve stated before, Loc’d Life (www.locdlife.com) was started to help celebrate a positive image for those who wear locs and to help change the sometimes misunderstood projections thrust upon them. I hope to start a dialogue on locs—change minds, engage souls, and celebrate a newer standard of beauty (even though locs have been around since Biblical times). Identity and image are at the heart of the matter. Some may or may not like locs. Some may have banned them from their discourse. However, Loc’d Life hopes to work from the opposite end: portray positive images, comprehensive information, and celebrations of loc’d beauty and culture.
So to my original question: What does it mean to be loc’d? It does depend on who you ask. I hope that increasingly it is positive.
‘Till next time,
Loc’d Life Magazine
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“Invisible Dreads,” from Twisted: The Dreadlocks Chronicles was excerpted from the book, Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities, edited by Regina E Spellers and Kimberly R. Moffitt, Hampton Press.
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