Why I Cut Off My Locs After Growing Them For 12 Years

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I decided to loc my hair when I was about age 14. I’d contemplated getting locs for a few years, but never quite made the leap. Luckily, my best friend’s mother had locs and a salon specifically for women with them, which helped make the decision to get them easier because I knew I would have someone to help me care for them and style them. I wanted locs because to me they were the quintessential natural hairstyle. I loved how powerful and beautiful women looked with them, it was almost regal to me. I was inspired by so many beautiful women with locs that I’d seen over the years, such as India Arie, Goapele, etc. Having locs was like a declaration of your blackness and a connection with our heritage.
 
I was always very conscious of our society's hair standards and stereotypes, so I was proud to be getting a hairstyle that wasn't mainstream and didn't conform to the constraints society has placed on black women. However, once I got locs my interactions based around them played a large factor in shifting how I perceived the parallels between hair and identity. I noticed the way they contributed to how others identified me, I was often seen as “afro-centric” before I even had the chance to verbalize my views. It was also as if once I became natural, I gained a level of access to this exclusive club because of my hair. For example, with men it was interactions such as, "Oh, you're a black queen and all women who wear their hair straight are not." I didn't like that, especially because I would meet women who wore their hair straight who were way more evolved. I found myself in situations where people who were members of this elite club weren't necessarily intersectional, I felt like, "Yes, you know about hair but what about capitalism and patriarchy?" Over time, these types of interactions led to me becoming far less attached to how I correlated hair with blackness.

Video of me cutting my hair. (Warning: Video contains profanity)

Video of me cutting my hair.
(Warning: Video contains profanity)

I decided to cut my locs about two years ago.  For the most part, I cut them because they were so long that they were starting to get quite heavy and straining my edges, but to be quite honest, I was also just ready for a change. We had a good run, but I was excited to be able to try new looks. I think that over the past few years, I really began to realize that my identity wasn’t rooted in my hair. While it definitely played a significant part in how others perceived me, I recognized that it didn’t dictate my own self-awareness or blackness.
 
I think that because I had locs for so long, I forgot how versatile hair can be. The styles that I could achieve with locs were limited. Since I cut them, I have had the pleasure of being able to try every style possible. It has been extremely fun trying a range of styles I’ve admired over the years and being able to use hair as a way to express myself.  I’ve been able to wear my natural hair as a wash and go, blowout, and even crotchet braids. Lately, I love box braids because they’re super convenient and give me a vibe reminiscent of my locs.
 
Letting my locs go was a difficult but liberating choice. I am grateful for the journey that they took me on and the ways they helped contribute to my development of self-awareness, my identity, and how I view hair.
Thank you for letting me share my story,
Brytanee
(@BrownBrytanee)

As told to Rocky Mohammed

As told to Rocky Mohammed

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