What does it mean to be loc’d?

Model: Evin Marie. Photo: Gail Mitchell

Individuality.

Uniqueness.

Freedom.

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,
Gail Mitchell
Editor
Loc’d Life Magazine
www.locdlife.com
Click on the blog link to bring you here.

“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.

Give us your feedback. What does it mean to be loc’d? Comment below.  The most insightful comment wins some Loc’d Life gear! Check back next week!

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3 thoughts on “What does it mean to be loc’d?

  1. Being loc’d means F.R.E.E.D.O.M. to:

    1. Honour the crown of glory the creator put on my head as a birth right.

    2. Grow my hair as long as it can/wants to grow

    3. Care for my hair with natural oils exclusively.

    4. Look fierce and groomed.

    5. Turn heads everywhere I go and hopefully inspire some.

    6. Put an awesome smile of a brother’s face who greeted me “My Nubian QUEEN”

    7. Save my hair from excessive heat treatments and harsh chemicals that can melt a tin can.

    8. Welcome the rain on my head.

    9. Swim, jog and break a sweat whenever i wish to.

    10. Love, accept and cherish the texture of my hair exactly as it is meant to be, as it has always been and as it will always be. Yes, I am my hair.

    Greetings,

    Paula.

  2. First, I simply like locs because of the depth of beauty and artistry portrayed on one’s crown. Our hair is like the jewels of our crown. Our hair is the very crown! I was natural for 8 years before locking. I saw a young woman’s luscious curly locs and I wanted some too! It has been a little over three years since I transitioned. Though I was natural before the locs, this style challenged me–more than before–to move beyond my fear of expressing my creativity and uniqueness. I know that people–in my experience it has been African-Americans–do not accept this style. That’s okay. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions. The remarks can be hurtful and ignorant. However, I’ve received many more compliments, and have been an inspiration to others who want to loc, who are locking, or who just like the style. Locs are my crown of glory…given to me by my Creator. Good or bad hair day, they are mine. I am thankful for a head full of hair. No person can steal from me what is part of my design.

  3. Another insightful post, and insightful comments. I too was natural for about 6 years before I decided to start my locs. Being natural/loc’d has been about freedom as others have mentioned. But even more so it has been about self-acceptance – accepting myself just the way God made me. It meant I was completely turning away from the social norm of applying chemicals to make my hair look like another group of people. It meant embracing all the possibilities that only our type of hair could do naturally. Sometimes I stop and think about how blacks/african desent are the only ethnicity with our type of hair, and instead of that being a bad thing as history has made us feel, I think it’s spectacular and it should be celebrated.

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