Friday, December 24, 2010

The Sisterlocks Explosion 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia

This event took place on December 04, 2010 at the Downtown Marriott in Atlanta, Georgia. It was filled with so many women that have Sisterlocks from all over. I was so impressed - these women were so beautiful. Below is a documentation of portions of this event. Also featured, in this video is an interview with, Zumba fitness instructor LaWanda Brokenborough of Aerobics Delivered. She talked about how her hair stays the same during her vigorous work-outs and how she is no longer concerned about her hair remaining beautiful thanks to Sisterlocks.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why this Sisterlock ™ Blog was created.


My name is Taiysha and I am writing this journal for one reason and one reason alone - because we are one, we may not realize it all the time, but nonetheless, we are one.

I recently got Sisterlocks installed and I was taken aback with how many women were attracted to my hair. Not because they necessarily liked my hair in particular, but because they saw a sense of freedom, a way out, and they wanted in.

I would hear all sorts of comments like , "I want to get "freedom" Sisterlocks ™ but I am afraid", to "Oh, you have that good hair, you probably didn't even need to lock your hair - my hair probably wouldn't even look right with that". Now even though I was a victim of the first reason myself, the second excuse would always get me a little upset. Okay, It would get me "a lot of upset". Shoot, I felt like my hair is just the same and If they only knew my issues with hair, they probably would be floored or say, "hey, she ain't no different - she go through the same madness we go through. So in hopes of offer some encouragement to young girls and women struggling with this world's definition of beauty, I am telling my tale of my painful journey before sisterlocks™.

Ah! The formal years: The baby pictures

An illustration.
Here I wanted to show how my mommy would style my hair. Wow, I had it made in the shade. I was around five or six and it was my birthday in this picture. I kept trying to go to this place in my mind but I don't fully remember. But, I know we were at my grandmother's house, and I was probably cheesing so hard because of that big fat bank roll in my right hand. Cause at 6 years old, I was a true tomboy, so I know I was not paying attention to the pretty dress and satin ribbons in my hair. It was about the money man and it was all mine!

Above is a photo of my mother and I. Notice my hair, no grease no water- now that is the real deal Holyfield.

Another baby picture moment

Here I am with my hair out when I was younger. I used to always wonder why my mother would say she was tired and did not have energy to do my hair at times.

She even started hinting that I would have to start doing my own hair one day. I still didn't know what she meant. But anyways, notice the hair is not plated, just picked and standing strong in a traditional afro. Yea mon!

My first experience with hair drama. Age? 7 years old.

Okay, here is where my first hair drama episodes began. You remember me saying my mother hinted that I was going to have to start doing my own hair soon? Well my mother picked the day of the school photo for me to begin this duty. I actually had to learn how to do my own hair that morning. Boy, talk about learning under the gun. With no preparation time, this was the best that I could do. Four big braids. I cried all the way to school that morning. I particularly remember feeling really unattractive that day.
Now, I will say this in my mother's defense, I don't think Mommy was trying to be funny or mean, I really think she was extremely overworked and to tired to do my hair that morning. So I just had to make it happen. As you can see all that crying did not stop me from sucking it up and smiling for the cameras.


Okay guys, here is my hair when I started to using a temporary. Before then for the most part I had been wearing it natural, hot combed, and even hair extension - braided of course. In fact, I am going to have to find some of those pictures because in a sense that was a traumatizing lesson in it of itself. I mean, when you use hair extensions, you not only have to install them, you have to go to the store, decide which hair pack will achieve the most natural blend with your hair without having it look "fake", and then pay a foreigner for another foreigner's hair , all because you don't want your texture hair to be seen in its natural state. Or really because you were led to believe it was socially unacceptable and you bought in to it. Yeah, that was not a lesson in self-love. And to make matters worse, I personally had to braid my own hair because I could not afford to pay someone to put my extensions in my hair and my mother wasn't footing the bill. I can remember putting that nasty dead hair in my hair - it took three days, each time. And then sometimes I didn't want to wash the hair because it would get matted, so I had hair that had not been washed for weeks. Ouch! Image the thoughts a little girl has during all of that. I could not have been feeling good about myself . I think that really destroys some of the innocents, self-esteem, and courage of a child because the child really can't focus on being a child. They are always wondering about their hair, is it sticking out, that sort of stuff. But, there is an upside to this, eventually, I learned how to do braid extension hair and started charging other people , so whoopi, I guess.


Okay, now I am glad I found these photos because as I suspected, and as you could see, I was not a happy camper. Man, this picture says all. Here is where my hair was in extension. Look at all that work! Now at this point in my life, I was starting to like boys and wondering why the boys I liked was not responding. I was in Junior High school and my grades were okay, but I know I was not focusing on classwork. Well anyways, there you have it. i don't think I have to say to much more except I know the 80's are coming back but please don't bring back acid wash jeans! Oh, please look closely at my eyes, at this time I was wearing blue eye contact lenses. I was about 13 years old.

Okay, I know I am incriminating myself with these photographs, but i am really trying to illustrate my point. So, please take your attention away from the checked patterned outfit and focus your attention on the hair. You can kind of see the braids and the parts and how tedious this process was for me to do myself. And because it was not my own hair I would have to take the hair out and start all over again with a brand new pack of hair. I usually used 2 -3 packs maybe 1b? I not sure of the specs, but it was always the wavy braiding hair.

THE HOT COMB- my weapon of mass destruction!

Above is a photograph of a hotcomb my weapon of mass destruction.

Me with my hair hot combed
Sometimes I would take my hair out of extensions and press it with a hot comb. Now that was another psychological battle in its own right. Man, that heat was so hot but I would do anything to get that anything but African look. And at this point, I knew my mother's mantra, "I had to do my own hair and pay my own way for any upgrades". So that's what I did. But sometimes the hot comb was to hot, I would mess up or slip and burn my ears and neck. Sometimes I would even burn my face or a chunk of my hair right from my scalp.

I remember the smell of that heated grease mixed with the hot comb and my hair. It is a distinct fragrance that doesn't smell right. It smells like something is burning - it is alarming. But after awhile you don't even think the smell is normal. Even though I got used to the smell, after to many incidents of attending school with burn marks and missing hair spots, I simply save up enough money and put the braids back in my hair.

My hair would get split ends because I was using the hot comb frequently.
Not to be contradictory but hair extensions Is really what saved my hair from falling out completely. It gave my hair a break from all the stress and heat I was putting on it. Plus for me, the braids also kept me looking attractive while giving my skin an opportunity to heal from all of those burns. And since I was into boys, I was always eager to test the waters with some new style. I wanted to see what the male species preferred and how they'd respond to a new me.

Another year of burning my hair
In this photograph above, I had just came from a trip from great adventures and my hair was sweated out. I put this one up to show you that even though my hair appeared to be fine - that wasn't good enough for me. I wanted bone straight hair and to me there was a difference. Also, I was about 14 years old.

Here is the grease I used to use when I would hotcomb my hair-blue magic, yeah right.

Keep in mind, although I had a lot of variation in my hair arsenal, I couldn't wait for my mother to let me get a perm. So when I hit sixteen, It was a done deal. I was on my way to the salon. I felt I finally made it to the big leagues. You should have seen me, I was going to the salon with my mom and loving every minute of it. Yep, I had finally graduated. I was getting a perm and I was officially permitted to sit in that special chair and let my stylist put lethal chemicals in my hair. I had arrived.

I was finally able to sit under the dryer for 5 hours with other women and girls and waste a whole day in the salon, all in the name of beauty. Yes, I was apart of something. And I was observant and I took plenty of notes. I would watch everyone, but mostly the women, their style, their height , their weight and mostly, their hair. I would notice how the women with long strait hair got compliments while the women with shorter hair got second hand treatment and very little compliments. I would watch the women with long flowing hair walk around the salon like they owned the place. They seemed to always talk louder and walk harder than everyone else -they had attitude, they were strong, they commanded attention. And for the most part, they got it, especially from me. By the time I left that salon that day, I had a perm and I had it in my mind that my next step was to have the longest flowing hair in the world. I don't think I necessarily wanted to talk loud and step hard, what i wanted was compliments, I wanted what appeared to be love, respect, and support from women that looked like me - I wanted to feel special.

That was my hair-dresser in the middle in the purple and that was one of here clients in the white. I always thought my hairdresser was so pretty, she had hair down her back and yes It was long and flowing. The only thing, she did not talk loudly or anything like that. She was and will always be a class act. I remember she was the only adult women I observed with the long flowing hair that spoke softly. I also remember she was kind to everyone - even her employees. She had her own hair salon and made clothes on the top level. My mother even bought me one of her creations. Which you'll see later. Well of course I looked up to her, can't you tell.

Okay, I added this photograph not only to show that I was really impressed by Mrs. Sophia and wanted to kind of be in her likeness but I also wanted to get into this hair. Here, I had the traditional perm with a "doobee: with only the front let out. But here I added gold spray from canned bottles in order to to give the impression of gold or blonde hair. Heck, I new I could not die my hair on top of a perm, so I got creative. In this photo my gold did not show all that well - I was trying to get that 2 toned effect but my girlfriend Sherena's came out very well. Now, that spray was crazy because, I remember when I first spayed it, I almost choked from the fumes and toxins. You know how when you put polyurethane on to your wood floors to add a shine, that's the smell it was reminiscent of. Very strong. Please, at the time, I was oblivious to how crazy this was, I just held my nose and kept going until I saw the look I was trying to achieve.

Here is the gold spray can I used on top of my relaxer, rinse, and gel. All of these chemicals was slowly breaking down my hair and I did not know at the time.

Here is the effect I could achieve if I would have sprayed more gold.


Sorry I went off on a tandrum about braided hair when I should have been talking about the BIG PERM stage, but in this post I 'll discuss my disgust with the matter. Okay, I have attached this picture because I want to bring to your attention the attention to detail this PERM involved for me. the false confidence this stuff brought me. Notice the bangs. I had to buy professional precision cutting sheers in order to get that fresh Owl like effect. Every day I would have to shape up the bangs so they would be leveled at an acceptable proximity that reveal my eyebrows without highlighting my forehead. I did this as a daily routine sort of in the way a man would shave everyday in order to keep his 5 o'clock shadow from showing. That was to often to be dealing with all of that - but I did not think so at the time. At this time I also began cutting my eyebrows, I think i would use a razor blade.

Listed above is a photograph is the type of scissors I used to cut the BIG Bang.

Here is a a variation. Aside from me cutting my eyebrows occasionally, sometimes I would cut the Owl hook more to the left side for a special added effect. Nice! Now I cut the photo in half because I wanted to emphasize the hair. Look closely at the top of my hair, in order for me to get the top to be elevated like that, I had to stuff it with some ones else's hair and wrap my hair around the dead hair. I secured it with bobby pins and sticky white liquid gel that would make your hair harder than glass to the touch. Don't ask me how long that took because I don't know and I don't even want to guess. I can say this , once I had the bouffant in place, I did not take that baby down for a week, sometimes a week and a half. Plus, I had to sleep with a scarf in such a way that the bangs stayed out while the rest of the hair was in the scarf. I also had to sleep on my side so that I would not mess up my bangs. I am dead serious.

See, here I am with my scarf on to keep my bouffant looking good. You can't make this stuff up!

Ah and yes, that shiny, bone straight, jet black hair that I so proudly sported. I had to get a black rinse done every two weeks, and my hair permed every six weeks in order to obtain that consistent bone straight look. Perm burns your scalp also, but it's a different kind of burn. Plus chemicals seep deep into your skin - Oouch! Above is the perm product I would use if I permed my hair myself, which I rarely did. At this point, my mother was taking me to the salon and she paid - She didn't want my hair falling out because of the harsh chemicals, so she kept me away from the process.

Below is a photo of the type rinse my stylist would use every two weeks. This was not the exact brand, but I looked similar. On occasion, I would put a rinse in my hair but that had to be when I could not get to my hairdresser in time and I had an engagement.

And for all of this hassle, I could no longer stand in the rain, go swimming, turn to quickly to my right or left side, drive with the window down, or even go outdoors when it was too humid for that matter. I didn't even want to go anywhere where there were warm, cleansing, climates - so you know Africa was out of the question. In fact, I identified myself as part Indian and not African at all. Little did i know, I have indian in my blood, but I didn't know that back then! I was just not happy to be Black or of African decent. So, the natural hair thing was definately gone with the wind.

And now the BIG GEL.
And speaking of gone with the wind. On top of the perm and rinse, I started to use that sticky white and clear gel listed above. So now there was no movement to my hair when the wind blew. Above is another photograph of my bouffant from the side. Just so you know, at the time, this was a bad hair day. The back of my hair was sticking out because it had been burned out from when I used to do my hot comb number. It never really grew back until I went all natural. This is the dress that was made by my hairdresser as well.

Here is a picture of my mommy perming here hair at home. It was so rare to see my mother with a perm that to find this photograph was almost spooky. Infact, I used to think she was so out of the loop because she didn't have a perm. But man, as always, mother knows best.


Yes, I participated in the weave thing too, but not by design.
Or at least that is what I had convinced myself to believe at the time. So, after years of processing my hair with chemicals in order to get that bone straight effect, my hair started falling out. This was my first wake up call. I was shocked because I had always prided myself on the fact that I had healthy hair, even if it was permed, and now it was falling out. So what did I do? I headed straight to the beauty supply store and got some weave hair. Yeah girl. But this time I did not want the traditional boring style. I wanted something classy. I mean hey, at the time I was working some fancy restaurants bartending and making what I thought to be good money, so I needed to keep up my appearances. Also, this is the time I started to wear dramatic make up, eyelashes and all, I mean Little Kim didn't have nothing on me.

Above is a typical photo of the weave hair I would try to buy. Please note, this weave hair stuff took things to a whole new level because this hair was expensive. I mean, I went from paying $25 a pack to $100 a pack. So any money I was making I was essentially spending keeping up appearance, all in the name of so called beauty. Now-a-days hair can cost $400 a pack easily. Man, I'm glad I got out of the game when I did - cause I really would have been filing chapter 11 bankruptcy from spending all of my earnings on this hair.

Here is a photograph when I was working in the restaurant industry as a bartender and waiter.

THE WEAVE: Let's take a closer look.

Here is a photograph of what a weave looks like when you sew fake hair onto your natural hair. My technique was different, but it rendered the same effect.

Okay, I wanted to share with you a photo in order to bring your attention to something. The budget-cut weave installation I used to save money. Notice the roots of my hair, especially the top portion. You see that black part kind of interfering with the blonde consistency of my hair? Okay, those where bolts like knots that left a gap in the hair because it really wasn't a weave. It was my hair braided in such a way where my natural hair was tucked under the weave hair.

Now , when I would start a braid, or my weave technique, I would pull the weave hair out early in order for it to show and cover my braided hair. Now, in order for the blonde hair to fully cover the braided hair, I had to get a great amount of blond hair to out match my natural hair. Yeah, what the heck was I thinking? Not only was this a waste of time but I was going broke. Shoot, I told yall how much weave hair costs right? Well double that. It was at least $350 each time i need to redo my hair. You know I kept the old hair that could be reused so It might have been a little less, but you get the idea. This is how I cut back on my overhead, I used the braiding technique I had learned when I was younger. Plus, I refused to pay someone to put glue in my hair - that would have been taking it to far!

I posted this add of the tools you have to used to install a glue in weave. When I saw that I thought about the same tools you used to do home repair. I just didn't seem right and coincidentally, that was my second wake up call. At that point, I started to think about more natural alternatives. If not in practice, in my subconscious - I knew I had to change my mind first.

My weave even closer
Okay, I put his one up because this was a day when my hair was showing and there wasn't enough weave to cover my natural hair. Now, because the weave hair was released early from the braid eventually the weave hair would shed and ultimately loose its capacity to cover the hair. I know you've noticed the make-up, it was way to much, even for stage. I looked like a clown. But this is how this disease progresses - once you start with one thing it leaves the door open to all kinds of weird behavior.

The picture above shows when I learned a technique to let the banks cover the bolts created by the weave. But at this time, I was ready to transition to my natural hair. In fact, I used to bug my friend Candace all the times about how I really wanted to wear my hair natural and that it was time to get rid of the weave. She would say, "then do it. You'll look really pretty." And I would always say," it's not that simple. You don't understand. Black women have issues concerning their hair." In retrospect, she was right, it was simple - all you have to do is change your mind and the behavior will fall in line with your train of thought. So needless to say I changed my perception of my natural hair and soon after I took the fake hair out of my head. In 2003 I finally went natural!


Okay at this time I got myself back into school and I just could not afford the FAKE HAIR. Plus I felt like i needed to feel my hair again. So after 6-8 months of contiplating back and forth, and forth and back, and up and down, and around and around, I finally just took my hair out of my handmade weave, and went natural. You have to remember, after all of those years of chemically processing my hair and hiding the natural hair, I didn't know what my hair would look like nor how to maintain and manage it. So, this was a big step for me. This is a picture with my hair with no color as well. I just braided my hair into 4 big box braids, after washing my hair, and took the big braids out. I was so happy and proud of myself.

Now even though I had the natural thing going with my hair, I was still doing the same make up routine. Here is Sherena shortly after I when I went natural. Noticed how I had a Ghost-face like effect and how light my face was compared to my body. Yeah, I don't need to tell you who I had been emulating. But at least my hair was natural and I finally started going in the right direction. I still felt great!

Photograph above: another illustration of the Ghost-face effect like make-up that didn't go with the natural fro.


Okay, here is a photo of my hair braided and let out. At this point I even gave the heavy make up and eyelashes a rest. I also tinted my hair color to a Aburn brown. Now although I was experiencing all the cool and wonderful ways my hair could be styled naturally, I was still doing way too much servicing.

Every night I would plate my hair with water to achieve this pattern in my hair-which i preferred. I frequently used grease to keep the shine and to assist with the pattern. Although this was very healthy, I still could not go swimming without my hair shrinking, not to mention the run away from humid days episode. To put it short - I still was not living "naturally". Or at least not like I wanted to. I wanted to go swimming or workout and go strait to work after my workouts without having to redo my do. Man I just could not catch a break. But I kept searching and praying and most of all believing. Don't get me wrong, this alternative was far more empowering than what I was doing to myself previously. It was also far less maintenance and the best part about the natural deal was it didn't cost me anything and and it was all my hair, without harsh chemicals. For the first time in my adult life I had felt proud of the way I naturally looked. I felt at peace with myself and that emotion is and will always be priceless to me.

Okay, Locks - But not exactly

Okay, this part hits closer to home because it is the most recent phase. I just fell out of this stage and hopefully for good. Now after the FRO, I got locks. I wanted to have a maintenance free alternative and I thought locks were the way to go. The only thing I did not realize was that locks required maintenance, just not everyday. Especially the kind I wanted - the small kind. The kind that I could style in many different hair styles. Now, I thought locks were all the same, so I just got double strand twist and let the new growth locks. I did not know how you had to maintain them. So I didn't and boy did that catch up with me.

I placed the photo above not to empasize the beautiful photography of Rameek Rasul, which by the way can seen at: , but I wanted you to check the lump that is in the back of my head. My hair kept growing and I did not do anything to maintain it. No separation of the locks- nothing. So my hair eventually patch together in the middle and soon became inseparable. This totally defeated the intent of locking small in order to style my hair in various ways.

I also picked up a bad habit of slapping gel to the front of my hair and then using a toothbrush to create additional baby hair. Man, that was so easy and effective at the time.  I inserted the picture above for special effect. smile.

Now, even though I did not have a perm anymore and was technically natural, or so I believed at the time, that gel prohibited me from getting use to my roots being free. So in essence, I kept the concept of the bone strait look without a perm. I would insert a picture of the gel, but I had received so many complements this crap that I in no way wish to indirectly give any advertisement for the use of this chemical. Shoot, young children may actually try this at home and this is not about that. I have inserted the picture above so you can see better the 2 hair styles in one I used to sport.

Well anyway, essentially I was still not all the way natural. No swimming yet. Nothing that had to do with water to much. I did workout and was able to stand in the rain for about 3 minutes, but not longer than that because my gel would begin to melt and that pasting slime could get gel all over my clothes. Oh, FYI, I used the dark gel not the clear one. So you could imagine my concern.

Now this photo I put in as exhibit A. Because I had the locks growing in bulk, my hair began to get really heavy. Look at the back - that was all new growth that had not been separated. This is the first time I felt I had a lot of hair, I mean for real. And when I washed it it was 3 times heavier. Check out the scarf. If I did not touch up the baby hair locks on the top of my head - the scarf was the only alternative. Also check out the pre-imposed baby hair I would create everyday. And checkout the slick back bone strait look look in the front. That is where I would slap the gel on every morning. So in essence, I had two hair styles at one time. The straight and nappy look all wrapped up in one. Oh and I can't forget, I used to add highlights to my hair with natural hair extensions. There was so much going on with my hair at this point, I think I had no other choice but to drop the 50 pound gorilla. It was not worth it. Man, I used to cry at night. i was torn in my thought process. I had not fully embraced my natural side. I had one foot in the beauty supply stores and hair salons and one foot out.

Above is a photograph of what my locks looked like from the back.
I had these locks for about 7 - 9 years. I cut it off Nov of 2008 after I got tired of crying myself to sleep. I did it on Nov 5, 2008 exactly, when President Obama was being nominated for the democratic party. The atmosphere was electrifying. I kept hearing," change , we need change, and yes we can. It was like everyone was saying it and it gave me strength for my own situation. I felt like I needed change and yes I can do anything also. For real , that's how deep I let this non-sense effect me. I know it may sound all to much but at the time it was all to true for me.

Okay, okay, I'll tell you. Dag! You guys are going to make me leave it all on the floor. I was trying to end it in the preceeding paragraph , but i can see you want the raw details as to how i cut my lock? Okay, the process i used was pretty strait forward, I took a pair of large scissors and dug right into my hair lump from the side of my head along the side of my ear. I made an effort to save as much hair as possible, so any hair that I had gelled and that was not natted together I kept. It took me about 45 minutes to complete the process. I would stop, look at my hair in amazement and then cut another piece. It was something I would not wish on anyone. Seeing all that energy and pain all lumped up in my hair. And some people might say, how did it get to that. So now with this journal, I hope it makes some sense.

You know, I feel like a person that lets their weight get out of control. You know when they say that famous cliche', "I just don't know what happened, I just let myself go." I always say to myself, that's baloney, you knew what happened , you where there, you just haven't dealt with your poor eating habits and now it's having a negative impact on your health. Well that's the deal with me, I knew what happened, I was there, I just didn't want to face my pain of self hatred. I knew I needed to get re-educated about who i am and what my people really contributed to man-kind in order to feel proud about being an African. I knew what had to be addressed. I just let things get out of hand. So, now I guess, I am taking responsibility and dealing with this issue. And yes, my head did feel 20 pounds lighter after the big chop. Alright, you have it! Now can we move on?


Moving on: Why I chose Sisterlocks™

Now after i chopped my hair, I wanted to have a way to wear it natural with out all of the upkeep. That was the main reason why i went the Sisterlock ™ route. I personally, found this system to be the only hair care management system that gave me most out of what i wanted: no chemicals, the freedom to wake up and go with style, the freedom to go swimming and to workout really hard without worry about my puffy transformations. Now, honestly speaking, I really think the power is in the puff ,aka, the original afro. The afro with the hair un-plated and that stands up commanding the attention befitting for royalty. So, if I had it my way, I would just go good old fashioned 70's fro, use my black fist pick for styling, and call it a day. But at this time, I have to much on my plate as is, so, as of Novermber 13, 2008, I have worn Sisterlock™. I really love the low maintenance aspect of it and I can't wait for my length and thickness to return. Man, when my locks finally lock, I am going to jump in every swimming pool in Georgia.

I don't think one can grasp how entrapped one is until they are no longer entrapped. I mean, the things that bond you become normal after a while and you don't think it is that much of a problem. I did not even no the extend of the damage that needs to be repaired until I went totally natural. That's why I am so grateful to be at this point of my life.

One final note, I have to admit that the sisters who have come before me and broadcasted their testimonies on the internet, really got me through. Seeing all those beautiful pictures of sisters and reading their stories about their triumphs and struggles, really helped me to build up my courage. But the most important message I walked away with was that i was not alone, It made me see that, when it comes down to it, we are all going through the same tribulations and victories and we are all one. My only hope is that this journal can make a positive impression on someone who really needs to be lifted the way I did. So, here is my frame of mind for 2009: I am naturally beautiful and that is enough. Say it, and it is so!
We are free sisters, let us fly to extraordinary heights.