Noelle has soft, curly, thick hair. Prior to me putting dreadlocks in, I would try to condition and wash it routinely but as soon as she would see the comb she would start crying.
It just became a hassle in our house. It was traumatic for her, me and my husband.
It got to a point where I would wrap my legs around her shoulders to hold her arms down and keep her still- can you imagine?
I would try to brush through her hair while she was screaming, crying and thrashing around, and it wasn’t for cornrows or anything, it was just to get a couple of ponytails in her hair so it wouldn’t matte up. It was horrible!
There were knots in her hair but no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get her to be okay with the process.
I remember going into the bath tub with her and trying to brush it out with conditioner. But as soon as she saw the comb she would start screaming.
The breaking point for me, was the day she cried so much she had popped blood vessels around her eyes just from throwing a fit.
I then got to the point where I asked for advice from this mom’s group on Facebook.
They said either cut off all her hair, which was fine with me she would just have a short afro, or I would have to process her hair because a relaxer would make it easier for me to comb it through.
I didn’t want to do that. Because what if I put the relaxer in her hair and when I go to rinse it out, she started screaming and crying. Then there would be chemical on her head that I couldn’t get out. Plus she was only about six or seven years old, very young. It just didn’t seem right.
I don’t think anyone suggested locs. That was my idea. And if locs didn’t work, plan B was to cut it short.
Growing up, my sisters and I all had very short hair. My mom would put a ruler in our heads and cut our hair to an inch all around.
For some little girls their hair is so important to them but to us this was normal. I remember when I was growing up, we would get the question all the time:
“Are you a boy or a girl?”
And we would be pissed and say, “Don’t you see we have pink shoes on, we’re girls”. But with our hairstyles it truly was hard to tell the difference between a boy and a girl.
It was kind of offensive to us. But other than the earrings in our ears, there was nothing that told us apart from boys.
And not that it’s a big deal but for me as a little kid it was kind of embarrassing.
I think now people are more understanding of differences. When I told people about locking Noelle’s hair, so many said:
“Don’t do that to her.”
“She’s going to be so mad.”
“If she doesn’t like it, she is going to have to cut her hair.”
“Why would you do that?”
Even her grandmother (my husband’s mom) said, “She’s not a Rastafarian.”
Where we live, there is not a lot of difference. So I had a lot of anxiety.
I twisted the back of her head. I was thinking, if the back locked and I don’t like it, I could just cut it and she would still have hair on top. It took a couple of weeks for me to get used to her locs in the back.
Then I did her whole head. And she loved it!
After 2 or 3 years she started going once a month to the hair salon with her other grandmother who also has locs.
They would spend the afternoon together. They would get matching styles and it was kind of cool.
After having her hair done at the salon, her locs looked really good but it was also kind of expensive. When her hair dresser went on maternity leave, I started retwisting it myself.
Since locking her hair. Everyone’s reactions have been good.
Even my husband’s mom, when she saw them she said, “oh those are nice!” I think she was apprehensive because she was picturing free-form locs. She even asked, “are those braids?” because she could see the parts in Noelle’s hair. She was pleasantly surprised.
Noelle loves them and I think it’s important that she is happy with herself. Plus we don’t fight over doing hair anymore.
She likes that she can style her own hair. She can put all her locs up in a ponytail, she can let them go, whatever she wants she can do. We’ve even put dyes in her hair. I think she is more confident!
Kendra and I met through a mom’s group. She has three daughters with beautiful heads of hair. I am grateful she shared her decision to try locs on her then seven-year-old.
Some of Kendra’s Recommendations For Locs:
This post was told by Kendra Clinton and written by Dominique Graham, a hair enthusiast, breastfeeding advocate, homeschooling mom and blogger behind DommiesBlessed.
Photos courtesy of Kendra Clinton.