A couple of days ago, Luvnmycurls asked a good question: “Do you like your hair in [protective styles]”? Oddly enough, I’ve never been asked that before. Time and time again, it’s “which PS do you like best?” or “what do you do for PS’s?” And her question made me stop and ponder…do I really, and truly like doing protective styles?
I love, Love, LOVE the look of micro-twists done on my natural hair. I revel in the ease of life when my hair is in individual braids that can be manipulated into an array of styles with ease. I don’t miss marathon detangling sessions, only to end up with the same tired bun. My loose hair, while it may be glorious to see, is a pain in the [insert body part of choice here]. But I did not always feel this way. The fact of the matter is – I may have started doing protective styles to retain length and protect my ends. However, I continue to do them to protect my hair from myself.
Up until a year ago, I HATED my hair in protective styles. No braid, twist, plait, bun, etc. was, in my opinion, flattering on me. I loved my loose locks (using loose locks loosely, haha…I crack me up sometimes). I loved that my loose hair represented what I considered to be an anomaly. My hair was not supposed “to be”. Hair that is coarse, and thick like mine isn’t supposed to have waves and loose curls. Wavy, loose hair is supposed to be silky (something mine ain’t!). Call it rebellion. Call it fleeing from assimilation. But wearing my own loose hair was like partaking in my own, personal political movement, with my hair silently screaming to the skewed, subjective world “screw you”. I think it’s one of the reason that I do NOT type my hair. I don’t fall into any of the systems. I’ve seen where other people have written my hair is this-type or that-type, but it’s just not so cut and dry.
And it’s also one of the reasons I often internally giggle when people throw up India Arie’s I Am Not My Hair. Because for me, I so AM my hair. What is surface level for others, is penetratingly representative of thoughts, goals and ideals for me. Where as others look to fashion or make-up to display their beings, my hair is my observational sounding board.
(Ok, get back on task here Kink. The tangents are taking on other tangents…)
I started really doing protective styles when I was pregnant with my daughter. The density of my hair multiplied at an never-before-seen rate (and I suffered the postpartum shedding at that same now depressing rate), and I just didn’t have the time or the energy to invest into styling my “out hair”. I made many appointments to get it all shaved off or even (gasp!) relaxed, only to have my husband talk me out of it. Enter braids and twists. I started a weekly regimen that required a lot of tweaking and variance so as not to get bored. And something, somewhere along the line all of a sudden clicked. I went from doing these styles out of necessity, to doing them because I enjoyed the benefits. Time and new styling options were no longer a luxury but were only afforded to me through protective styles. And the style option on the tail end (the twist-out which now actually looks like a twist-out and not just assorted wormy locs of hair) is a beautiful way to enjoy my “out hair”.
So, I think liking myself in protective styles took time, a shift in priorities, experimentation and true acceptance (and a little length didn’t hurt). Which leads me back to Luvnmycurls’ original question. Do I like myself in protective styles? Abso-frickin’-lutely.