I sat down with the beautiful Rose-Anna who has "cultivated" an amazing head of locs. It was a pleasure.
ini: Thank you for doing this.
Rose-Anna: You're welcomed.
ini: Do you think it's kinda strange that somebody wants to talk to you about your hair?
Rose-Anna: Not really. I've had people come up to me and ask me how did I start them. Young teenage guys especially come up to me and ask me "How did you start your hair?" or "Can you do my hair?"
ini: There seems to be a lot of young men in Tallahassee with locs more than anyplace I've ever lived.
Rose-Anna: I think it's just 'the thing' down here. Everybody is locing their hair for whatever reason. I think at one time it was the religious aspect, the Rastafarian.
ini: O.k. so first question: How long have you worn your hair natural?
Rose-Anna: It's been 2 and a half years.
ini: Have you been loced the whole time?
ini: Do you remember when you first put a relaxer in your hair?
Rose-Anna: I was a teenager in the 70's so I had an afro that was [puts hands out to show size].
ini: Oh wow!
Rose-Anna: Those huge ones. I had one that sat on my shoulders. We all had one; if your hair could grow it grew.
ini: Do you have pictures of that?!
Rose-Anna: I think I have a couple. Most of my pictures are when I had it trimmed up but I had an afro that sat on my shoulders and my mother used to send me to the barbershop and say "After school I want you to go and get your hair cut". I wouldn't go…but I would come home and wash my hair so it would shrink up and then a couple of days later it would be out here. "Didn't I tell you to get your hair cut?!" I think it was (19)77 when I first permed my hair and I was…17…18.
ini:I was 1.
Rose-Anna: You're just a little older than my son. I think I was 17 when I permed my hair for the first time.
Rose-Anna: That was the style then, everything was changing from the afro to relaxed hair. I don't even remember why. I've always been a person who's experimented with my hair. I used to be a hair model when I was in my 20's. I worked in advertising and I had a client who had a hair salon so I could walk in any day of the week and get my hair done but the catch was they could do anything they wanted to to my hair. I've had burgundy hair, all kinds of things. I've had short hair, long hair. The longest I've worn it is probably past my shoulders. I've had little afros about a ¼ of an inch. I don't mind cutting my hair, I don't mind letting it grow.
I think in (19)81, just after I had my oldest daughter…she's 22, I cut all my hair off. I went to the hair dresser and I had a hair appointment. I was supposed to get it touched up and I asked the woman to cut it. She asked me "Are you crazy, all this hair?". I said "Yeah, cut it all off". She thought I was joking. I said "Look, just cut it" so she started and she cut it about up to my neck and she said "Are you serious about this?" and I said "Cut it off!" so she cut it all off. Then a couple days later I went to a barber and had it shaped up. I could brush it…it was that short. I don't know what made me let it grow out again.
I couple years later I let it grow out again…and then I cut it again. I don't know, I've been through these phases of having short hair, permed hair whatever but the decision to loc my hair I made that…probably about 20 years ago. I wanted to loc my hair but I was in the "corporate world" and back then, and where I was it wasn't acceptable. If you loced your hair you were either a Rastafarian or you were rebellious and being in the job that I was in I couldn't do it. But I had a sister-in-law that I kinda vicariously lived though. She started locing her hair. When I finally was free to do it 2 and ½ years ago I decided I was finally gonna loc and that was it.
ini: What was the hardest thing to deal with when you first decided to loc your hair?
Rose-Anna:It takes a while for your hair to actually loc. Initially I had shoulder length relaxed hair and I went to a woman who put yarn twists in it. She knew my intention was to loc it so that was what I was gonna do until I had enough growth. I had it done a couple times in a 6-month period. I was supposed to get it done again 'cause my intention was to have a good growth before I started the twists. But after that second time when I was supposed to have it re-done I just decided I'd cut it off. So I cut off all the relaxed parts and just left the natural part and I just sat and twisted it.
ini: Twisted it like how my hair is?
Rose-Anna: Yeah (2 strand twists) I did it myself. It took a long time and I did it. And the difficult part was at the beginning stage because I only had an inch of growth…might have been a little bit more.
ini: It kept unraveling?
Rose-Anna: Yeah, it come undone and it's not "neat" but I call it the "cultivation process" like when you plant plants you have to cultivate them. You go through that period, of 6 months to a year before it fully locs, of keeping it twisted and grooming it and getting it to look the way you want to look. When it's like that you tie a lot of scarves in your hair and that kind of thing to keep it in place. Then one day it was like "I didn't have to wear a scarf". I didn't have to tie it. It was how I wanted it.
ini: I've heard several people say that when you're gonna loc your hair you just "know"…did that happen to you?
Rose-Anna: I guess so. I think it's type of maturity that comes when you decide that you want to loc your hair. I'm talking about specifically with a woman. I'm 44 years old. I had a desire a long time ago but I had all these outside influences that prevented me. At that time I felt prevented me from doing this. I was at this stage where I didn't care anymore what anyone thought. I had comments from family members like "Why do you want to do this?" and friends who said "What, you gotta be kidding, why would you want to do that?" and I was at that point to say "So what, it's what I want to do". I looked at it like, God created me with hair that curled. Also I think at that same time I was looking at better health for myself and I was thinking "I've been putting chemicals in my hair for the better part of 20+ years…maybe I need to stop this". I just said "Well hey, I'm gonna do this and I just did it".
ini: You already answered the next question which was "How did you start your locs". Did you part them out?
Rose-Anna: What I did initially was I had the yarn in my hair and I was washing it with the yarn in it. When I decided I was gonna get it redone I took the yarn out and washed it again. Because I had i
t over a 6 month period with the yarn, even though I was washing it and all that the parts were still there. I was washing it with the yarn in and, of course, the parts weren't disappearing, but when I took the yarn out and washed it they still didn't totally disappear. Especially in the back where I couldn't see I could still feel the part so I was taking the sections that were already there and twisting them. Then in the front I could see more so twisted them. I twisted in the direction I want to go and every time you retwist it make sure you retwist in the same direction.
ini: How do you retwist the new growth? What do you use?
Rose-Anna: Initially I had found something in a beauty supply store for locs but I didn't use that 'cause I read that wax clogs up your hair and dirt get in it and I didn't want that.
ini: That's true.
Rose-Anna: It was some kinda pomade and I can't remember what it was and I used that and a gel and I twisted it. I'm at the point now I just use hair grease sometimes and I twist it. I roll them now.
ini: You palm roll them?
Rose-Anna: Yeah I palm roll them now.
ini: Do your locs have any significance to you other than just being your hair?
Rose-Anna: It's just freedom for me. It's symbolic of freedom as far as my hair is concerned. I've gotten to the age where I don't care what other people think.
ini: I've gotten to that age too
Rose-Anna: It's an expression of …not being rebellious or anything like that…it's just the freedom that comes with it. I can go outside and it could be sprinkling or it could be a foggy day and I don't have to worry about "reversion"
ini: reversion …. ooooooooooh
Rose-Anna: …or I can't do this. If I want to go swimming…whatever. I can exercise without having to worry about all of this. I can wash my hair and don't have to go though all these things.
ini: Have you ever gotten any positive comments about your hair and what were they? You said people come up to you all the time. Besides me being a stalker who else?
Rose-Anna: I could be in the grocery store, in the mall. I worked this Christmas in the mall at a part time job in one of the kiosks and people would come by and say "Oh I really like your hair". I guess people who don't like it don't say anything at all.
ini: Well that 's my next question: have you ever gotten any negative comments about your hair?
Rose-Anna: Just from family members. They've said "Why do you want to do that? Don't you know what it means?" and stuff like that. I'm like "What does it mean?" . Like I said, I've been delivered from that.
ini: Praise Him!
Rose-Anna: It really doesn't matter.
ini: Does your husband like your hair?
Rose-Anna: He's always supportive. He's seen all kinds of lengths and styles. I had blonde hair…I went through that stage.
ini: I had blonde streaks but I never had all blonde. I think you're complexion could hang with blonde a little bit more than mine…the blonde streaks were a little crazy.
Rose-Anna: Actually it looked pretty natural 'cause I have that reddish complexion. Like I said, I've had different colors of hair. The only thing I've never done is black 'cause black doesn't go with my complexion. I told him I was doing it and he was like "O.k. fine".
ini: That's awesome 'cause there are lot's of women out there that don't have that.
Rose-Anna: I guess he figured I'd do it anyway so might as well.
ini: What do you do with your hair
Rose-Anna: I retwist my hair every 3 weeks. I don't twist every week 'cause it thins your hair and a lot of times people have problems with locs dropping out. The minimum for me is every 3 weeks. The maximum is 4-5. In the summer time I wash my hair every week. In the winter every 2-3 weeks.
ini: How long does it take you hair to dry?
Rose-Anna: I wash it at night and let it dry over night 'cause my hair takes a long time.
ini: Do you tie it down?
Rose-Anna: Every night I use a satin scarf and I tie it. I have one that's big that covers all the way down just so you don't get lint and stuff in it.
ini: I noticed that, you have like no lint. That's another thing….beeswax attracts lint.
Rose-Anna: I tie it every night…keeps the moisture in too.
ini: When you twist it do you clip it down?
Rose-Anna:Unh unh … I twist it and it stays in place. There was a time that it wouldn't, I use to have to twist it and hold it down then tie it but now it stays in place. You have to train your hair to go the way you want it to go then usually I do it at night and when I wake up in the morning it's dry.
ini: How long did it take your hair to fully loc?
Rose-Anna: It was about a year. Between 3-6 months the middle was loced…not fully and the bottoms used to unravel and I would always twist them 'cause they'd split like little tongues and I was always twisting them back. But after a year and then one day I was like "I'm starting to loc." I have a cousin who loced her hair and it took her a year too. She wrote me a letter saying "My hair's finally loced!".
ini: What is you favorite hairstyle?
Rose-Anna: I usually wear it down. I like putting it up but I really don't have the time. I work with kids all day and usually by the weekends I'm pooped. Sometimes I play with it in the mirror and it's at the stage now where I can put it up.
ini: I was gonna say, I started going to [our church] last June and your hair has grown a lot since then.
Rose-Anna: Last year it was about to my neck.
ini: It seemed like it was more even and then all of a sudden the bottom started to look layered.
Rose-Anna: And I haven't been trimming it like I usually do.
ini: Oh, how often do you trim?
Rose-Anna:Depends on how the ends look. I think eventually I'll' trim the back all even but right now I like the fact that it's longer. I'm thinking of finding some ways to wear it up.
ini: Has any body ever tried to touch you hair?
Rose-Anna:I've had people ask but I've never had anybody really walk up and touch except kids. Kids will do it, they'll put their hands in it and feel it. Adults won't. They'll say "Can I touch your hair?" and I'll say "Yeah, go ahead". I guess people want to know what it feels li
ini: What about employment? I know you mentioned earlier that you didn't loc 'cause you were working in a corporate office. Has your hair affected your employment?
Rose-Anna:I'm self employed now. At the time I started locing my hair I was already employed and I don't think it affected it in anyway. It's like a reversal. I think back then my concern was the job. Now the concern is me….not being self centered but …
ini: You don't have to explain it to me, it didn't take me that long
Rose-Anna:In the job I was in I told everybody I was locking my hair and they were like "fine". I think at the time I might have been the only black employee and basically my work spoke for itself. It didn't matter, it wasn't changing the quality of my work or the quantity of my work so it didn't matter. I've since left that job to pursue my own endeavors. I'm a no-frills type of person so I think my hair explains who I am. I'm no frills, I'm no pretension about me or my hair.
ini: Do you find that people approach you differently now that your hair is like this? I don't know if I'm getting that out right?
Rose-Anna:I understand what you're saying. I think people have certain preconceived notions when they look at hair. But again … Umm… I … really … don't … care.
ini: LOL I just love it!
Rose-Anna:I really don't care. And again, it's not rude or arrogant or anything. I just really don't care. I feel that if you don't want to get to know me because my hair frightens you you're missing out on something. Like I said I'm a very straight forward, loyal type of person. I'm the type of person I either like you or I don't like you. Everybody who knows me, my children, my family, all my friends, they know I'm the type of person if you ask me about something I'm gonna tell you the truth about it. It might hurt your feelings…most times people get upset but then they say "I'm glad you told me the truth". I tell my children, "I'm not gonna lie to you, it's a big world out there and if I lie to you and tell you things that aren't true when you get into the world you're into a really big awakening. So I'm gonna give you the awakening here so when you get out there you know where things stand". And that's who I am and I think my hair expresses that. Some people may think it's loud or very out spoken but that's who I am, I'm that type of person! No frills, no pretense.
ini: Makes sense to me. Let's see, if you could change anything about your natural experience what would it be?
ini: Nothing? Love it just how it was?
Rose-Anna:Even the difficult period that I went through where it's too short to do anything and you can't really turn back. Doesn't matter, it's a period that you go through like life. You're making transition from one thing to another and there's a period that you go through that you may not like but you know where you're headed. To me I knew what I was gonna end up with so I'm on my way, that's how I look at it so there's nothing I'd really change about it.
ini: What advise would you give someone who's considering locing their hair?
Rose-Anna:You have to make sure that's what you want. I've had people start and then they're like "I don't know if I can really do this". You have to be serious about it. For me it is more than just a fad. I think a lot of people do this 'cause it's a fad and when the next style changes they'll be wearing that. I don't think that that for me…this is it. My intention is to let them grow just past my shoulder and keep trimming them but I don't see my self with my hair relaxed again or anything else for that matter. I'm happy with these, I like the size of them, I like how they feel. I know I have very thick hair and if I let them grow too long they'll be too heavy 'cause when I wash my hair now they're really heavy. I won't let them grow real long.
ini: You haven't had any problems with breaking? It doesn't look that way at all.
Rose-Anna:No, if they do thin out what you can do is tie them together and I've done that in the front because the front is a lot thinner than the rest of my hair. I've done that a couple times in the front. I don't mess with them too much. I keep them clean and don't overtwist them. Sometimes I see people messing with their hair all day. I don't do all of that. Usually when I wash it I try to sorta separate them if they start to cling together. I palm roll them with grease.
ini: What kind? Dax?
ini: I know people who use olive oil
Rose-Anna:Basically anything. They have some products like Dark & Lovely natural line but I buy hair grease for my kids so I just use a little bit of that. A little dab'll do ya. Not a lot, a little at the roots and that's it. I don't do too much. I might try olive oil. I've used tea tree oil when I started out; I would put that on my scalp. Tea tree oil mixed with jasmine.
ini: Describe your hair in one sentence or less.
Rose-Anna:I can give you one word: Me.
ini: Oh that's good!
ini: That's the best sentence I've gotten so far!
Rose-Anna:It's me. Locs are me. These locs are me. It's the person I've always been but never really displayed it.
ini: I like that! Any final thoughts?
Rose-Anna:Yo you I'd say "Thank you for the interview". Thank you for the interest in my hair. I was like 'What?'…I was just shocked …I really don't think that much about my hair so I was flattered. Thank you. To the others who will read this, I'd say do what suits you. Your hair is an expression of you. I see so many people do what everybody else is doing and it doesn't express them and I think it's important that you do what expresses you because that's your crowing glory. It's important to exemplify who you are regardless of what other people think. Do whatever's is you.
ini: O.k. that's it. Thank you so much!