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Loc’d Up: Nothing Dreadful Here

“My locs taught me patience, self-love, and versatility. I became more accepting of my unique composition, both inside and out.”

Nicole A Schmidt

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August 23, 2008  – I started the journey of a lifetime. Two days before my first day as an official high school English teacher, I loc’d up – my hair.


So many were perplexed by my decision because I have “good hair”. I used “Just for Me” until I decided to loc at age 22. I didn’t loc my hair to rid it of chemicals. I didn’t loc because it was the latest fad. Why did I loc?

I was once accused of having no idea why I loc’d. The accusation came from an older woman, proudly rocking a wig, with disdain in her eyes. I respectfully, bu assertively explained, “I loc’d my hair because it represents my current season in life. There are aspects of my life, mainly my career, that have fallen into place as planned. But there are other aspects of my life: marriage, children, etc. that are out of my control. While I can part my hair, palm-twist it into neat coils, and nourish it with premium hair-care products, I can’t force it to loc before its time. I have been forced to yield to my unique loc process. My locs are truly my life”. Of course, the woman rolled her eyes and walked away. Though she’d never admit it, I gained her respect.

What I didn’t mention was the uphill battle I fought at the beginning of the process. I planned to start my locs with two-strand twists. To stimulate new growth, I had my hair braided for a month. When I took the braids out, my permed hair was tangled in one big knot. I tried for several hours to untangle it, but to no avail. Because of work, I was forced to cut off my hair MYSELF. When I finally got to the salon, we realized that my hair was too short and too soft for two-strand twists so I had to start with comb-twists. Talk about devastated. It took a year and a half for my hair to completely loc. I colored them once and shortened them twice. The ends never re-loc’d after the final trim, leaving cute curls on the tip of each loc.

My locs taught me patience, self-love, and versatility. I became more accepting of my unique composition, both inside and out. Though “I am not my hair”, my hair is for definitely a reflection of me.

Nicole A Schmidt is an internationally-acclaimed educator currently teaching English China, documenting her experiences along the way. Also a published YA poet/author, she continues to reach out to and advocate for those who cannot do so for themselves. Traveling to China, like other endeavors and accomplishments, was/is not only her chance of a lifetime, but an opportunity to empower teens and young adults of color to pursue chances of their own lifetimes.

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