Despite mass outrage over the Federal Court of Appeals ruling it’s okay for companies to ban locs, white people aren’t the only ones who still have an issue with the hairstyle. It’s an uncomfortable truth to confront, but one that reared its ugly head when popular hair vlogger Taren Guy decided to loc her hair.
If you’re unfamiliar, Guy is known in the blogosphere for her lush afro, with more than 190k Instagram followers following the beauty’s natural journey, hair tips and tutorials, and overall style. But after seven years of blogging about her hair, Guy realized her mane had become bigger than her ‘fro.
“I noticed that my Afro eventually became a beauty crutch for me,” Guy wrote on Essence.com. “I noticed that anytime I needed to show up to an event or function, I had to “show up” with my Afro in order to feel present. If I needed to go out to a social event, I would never wear my hair in an updo or wrapped up. My Afro, aka my pride and joy, now became a cover up and I found myself hiding behind my hair. This was something that needed to be addressed. Quickly.”
Eventually, Guy came to the decision to freeform loc her hair, which was “more of a feeling than a style choice for me,” Guy wrote. “It represented ‘next level’ freedom for my personal journey and a healthy detachment from my old self.” At the end of August, the hair influencer decided to share her journey with her followers, and though she received an overwhelming amount of support, there was also some unexpected backlash.
“I quickly experienced being canceled from a scheduled appearance at a natural hair event. The cancellation was due to my hair change because I was told ‘Doesn’t fit the demo and audience of the attendees’ and won’t sit well with sponsors.”
Guy then made a list of the other negative reactions she received:
“Why would you loc that beautiful hair.”
“Hair isn’t that deep.”
“I thought you found Jesus.”
“You’re getting weird, I’m unsubscribing.”
“Oh no, you messed up your hair!”
“As you can see, she wrote, “the common theme was that my hair was ‘too pretty to loc’ or that the spiritual connection I felt with my hair wasn’t real.”
Reading about Guy’s experience is particularly disappointing in a time when, nearly weekly, there are stories of natural-haired Black women being denied employment because of their hair. While the style discriminated against isn’t always locs, Guy’s experience has exposed the biases still present within the natural hair community. In some minds, natural hair is still only considered acceptable if it’s kempt — the antithesis of freeform locs, the basis of which is letting hair naturally loc without manipulation. And the implication of one’s hair being “too pretty to loc” is that locs themselves are not beautiful and because Guy has achieved a hair length and curl pattern widely desired by many she shouldn’t mess with a good thing. It’s like freeforming today is the natural hair movement of the early 2000s, as wearing natural hair has become less about self-acceptance and more about styling, now that various brands have disingenuously capitalized on the trend.
Freeform locs or locs in general might not be everyone’s style preference but questioning and even punishing another woman for her choice to embrace this style proves how far we still have to go. As Guy wrote in her essay, “The only way to fight for our right to be ourselves is by collectively taking our power back.” The key to taking our power back is accepting one another’s hair choices and embracing the way our hair naturally grows. Until we get to that point how can we expect anyone else to get it?