Locs of Empowerment

By: Imara Oshibanjo-Gunning

 Illustrated by: Jessica Vaughan -  www.jessicavaughan.co.uk

Illustrated by: Jessica Vaughan - www.jessicavaughan.co.uk

Throughout my teen years I had trouble understanding what beauty really is and what the ‘requirements’ were. As soon as I got my dreadlocks (locs) I desperately needed to feel comfortable, until I saw this quote “My hair doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’, society’s narrow minded view of ‘beauty’ is what’s broken”. From then on I understood that I wanted to break down the barrier for all people who didn’t fit into society’s perspective of beauty.

In this century it is particularly hard for young women and girls to find where they belong, and it has become harder for us now that we have access to social media. When we look at our phones, social media is all we see. It provokes young girls to be sexy and eye catching so that they get attention because having likes and a high amount of followers is ideal in the internet world. 

In my teenage years I attended an all-girls catholic school and I found it hard to fit in. The girls always had something to say about my hair, like "why's it so greasy?" or "why don't you straighten it?”. I had to ask myself, why did they wanted to pick on something so small? It affected me because my hair has always been NATURAL and I liked it, but at the same time I started to dislike my hair immensely. I didn't want to change it however it was making me feel uncomfortable.

After struggling with my hair I found a liking to locs as they were a carefree hairstyle that looked beautiful. Locs spoke volumes to me and I decided to try it. The first time I did it myself learning off a YouTuber. I did it pretty lazily and it looked a MESS, never the less I still rocked it with confidence. It took a long time for me to get respect from people when I got them, and still sometimes find this after. My mum was against them as soon as she saw them, even though I told her my reasons she still had her views. I knew not everyone would be accepting but I stood my ground and still rocked them. Through my loc journey I never had an inspirational woman to look up to. I realized as soon as my locs formed it gave me a sense of empowerment. To say I felt strange was an understatement. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that hair could make me feel this way. At the start all I wanted was a “hairstyle”, however this dramatically changed the way I viewed myself, and the way I viewed other people.

 I don’t think many people acknowledge the strength in moments like this. That they could change views and make people accept numerous things that they haven’t. Being a young woman I’ve learnt a lot of things about myself, and I’ve questioned what I can do to help young girls feel empowered by their flaws. I want people to know whatever you cherish as an individual is a symbol of beauty.