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Monday, August 31, 2009

Alopecia: The PCOS Diaries


UPDATE: I have since LOST 40 POUNDS, eat more protein than carbs, and have a more active lifestyle. I have not lost a lock from the scalp since this month back in 2009. For all of those who are struggling with PCOS, I greatly encourage you to modify your diet!!!!!



Me? Lose my hair? Never! It was always them other there. You know, them that perm, that overstyle, that heat. I was wrong both about what I thought and in judging. Now, albeit true, you can loose hair from dye, relaxers, and tension. But this is not what happened to me.

This week, I had to face the truth: it is me. It could be you. I am certain that someone reading this has, will have, or already has had some form of alopecia.

First, I'd like you to know this is not a pity party! I am too proud for your sympathy. Also, this is somewhat of a"fake" problem in my point of view. I still have a place to live, employment, food, and civil rights so let's put this in perspective (said for our mutual benefit =D).

But my hair did fall out. I attribute it to PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) and over the past few weeks I have lost about 10 locs from the scalp. I can't see a visible blad spot, but they appear to have fell from the scalp in the crown of my head.

First, I dismissed the notion that my hair was falling out. I had lost 2 locks to dye prior to now. So when I saw, the locks in the shower floor, I assumed it was the color. Then, when I found a few more the next week on my pillow, I said to myself that this can't be right. I have always had hair, everyone in my family does, and I have been good to my hair. Yup! De-nial! But when I was separating my locks with a gentle run through with my hands, and a Sisterlock came along between my pinkie and ring finger, it was clear. I have alopecia... at least temporarily.

What does it mean for me? I have to get healthy. PCOS is affecting everything in my life. It makes me tired, made me gain weight, makes me take meds, makes me depressed and worried, controls my hormones and thus mood from time to time. The symptoms of PCOS are wide and only the symptoms can be treated. For example, it causes crazy sporadic hair growth (not on your head) but on your face and other unwanted places. I had to treat it with laser hair removal. It also creates dark patches of skin from Insulin Resistance Syndrome. My symptoms are supposed to be treated with meds, each symptom it seems has a different medication. But the main medicine I was prescribed makes my stomach ill (Metformin). I am currently looking for an alternative.
This is how I plan to get healthy: increase probiotics, use natural progesterone, stop antibacterials, remove toxins I know about, and severely reduce the sugar in my diet. I know there is a correlation to insulin levels and PCOS. There is also info that suggests toxins and the lack of good bacteria in your body correlates to the occurrence of PCOS.

If you have PCOS, think you might, or suffer from another hormonal disorders, I am suggesting the resources below:
Official Web Site of John R. Lee, M.D. - progesterone and hormone expertise
Quick Links: PCOS & ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES - PCOS Message Board
Natural treatment for PCOS
The Struggle for Mastery in Insulin Action:: Alternative Pathways ...
Master Your Metabolism
A Patient's Guide to Pcos : Understanding--And Reversing-- ...

You may be wondering why I am sharing this info. I want women that have PCOS and/or alopecia to know that they are not alone. There are women who choose to wear their hair natural and have alopecia. I am now one of those women. I always thought I would have the option to go with no hair by choice. If I can wrangle my PCOS, this will still be an option. If not, I embrace the change.

Yes I have cried about this and lost sleep over it. I have not decided whether I will throw my locks away or attach them to my hair somehow. I don't feel bad for mourning the loss. To say "It's just hair." is like saying "My skin is just brown." Both statements are simplified to a fault and don't take into account societal views or the individuals experiences. Still in the end, what matters most is what you think of yourself. I know the Divine never allows obstacles that are random and that can not be overcome. I really think it's a wake up call to rid myself of PCOS. I know others like Colette Harris have done it. How encouraging this is!

So can I. I am. I will. This is my alopecia affirmation. It is for me, but I am sharing it because sharing it is for you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Consultant Kudos - Julia Stewart Stackhaus

I decided to share some more positive news about my Sisterlock Consultant. You may contact her at 404-718-9371

Sometimes, Sisterlock Consultants get a bad rep. Now, in fact, some get a bad reputation because they do poor work or were deemed unprofessional or otherwise unfit by someone. Some get a bad rep by association or because of miscommunication. Others get the full blame because their clients did not follow their experienced advice which, in this case, I think is undeserving. For example, my consultant told me not to dye or cut my hair because my locks were not mature at the time. Did I do it anyway? Yes! Did I blame her when my locks further unraveled and bunched? No. Did I regret not heeding her advice? Not a first, not until a couple of my locks weakened and broke off in the middle ( I think from the dye).

I digress, the whole point of this post is to share some positive news about Julia Stewart Stackhaus. Her advise about hair texture, lock maturation, and shampooing is always spot on! In addition, she is always encouraging me to get fit and stay fit. Also, she recently retightened my hair in 3 and 1/2 hours after I had been away for 8 weeks. That, my blogger friends is worth celebrating. I only wish the Sisterlocks site had consultant review. I would give her 5 out of 5!Finding her has been a blessing to my journey and I wanted you all to know it! She maintains her lovely locks all by herself too. What more could I ask?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Evelyn's Inspirational Interview

I am pleased to offer you an interview from a sister blogger and friend. She is a raw food enthusiast, avid blogger, and naturul hair connoisure. Naturally Sophia welcomes Evelyn of Evelyn's Raw Food Journey .

I asked her to allow me to have a natural hair interview with her and she was gracious enough to reply thoughtfully and provide an amazing interview. Kudos to her!

Recently she did the big chop. Having seen her gorgeous locks in person I was admittedly surprised and couldn't help inquire.

Right to Left: Evelyn, Yours Truly, & Former Blogger Onyx Cherry


She responded:

I was making changes and those changes included cutting off my locks. I loved the look of my locks, but deep down inside, I was not happy with my locks.
Cutting off my locks gave me a sense of release. I released old hurts, pains, and disappointments in my life and my hair was a part of that release. I am on a journey to becoming a healthier person and I had to start fresh with a clean mind, body and spirit and my hair was part of that. I believe that my hair is part of my spirit and when my spirit needed to a new beginning, I had to listen and make the necessary changes.

It wasn't easy parting with my locks, but once they were gone, I felt free in my spirit.

So, prior to this, what is your hair story?

Pressed hair around age 10/11

First relaxer at age 12.

Wore braid extensions 3 times. Finally stopped relaxing my hair at age 31.

Please tell me about your to and away journey from SL?
In August 2005 I got sisterlocks installed. I researched locks and the different locking techniques and settled with sisterlocks because of the texture of my hair and the versatility that sisterlocks had to offer. While sisterlocked I wore my hair mostly freestyle, but I did do spike roller sets, braid outs, twist outs, and up dos I really loved my locks at the time. It took my hair about 1 1/2- 2 years to completely lock, but I had some curly ques even when I cut them of earlier this year. I wore my sisterlocks from August 2005 to February 2009. At the time when I cut off my locks, I was making healthy lifestyle changes and releasing the past and my hair was a part of my release. I would like to share that I am a licensed cosmetologist and have had training in natural hair care and techniques. I do believe that hair texture plays a role in how one's hair reacts to any type of locking technique. I love sisterlocks, but not for my hair at this time. I was noticing a problem with my hair line receding on the right side of my head. In the same area of my head, the area in general was thin. That was the only area of my head where I was having issues. Overall, I was very pleased with my sisterlocks and enjoyed rocking them
.

What are your hair stats? Type, texture, pattern, size of locks previously.
I am a 4a, I think. I have very soft, cottony, airy hair type of hair texture. My curl pattern varies throughout my head, but I have spiral-coily medium lose curl pattern. My hair is also medium fine and not very thick. My lock size varied with the smaller locks being in the front and on the sides. The rest, I'd guess were medium-large.


Tell me about your first hair experiences? How did your family react and or style your hair as a child?
My first hair experiences were very pleasant experiences. I actually enjoyed my mother styling my hair. My mother never put heat to my hair, she would always style my hair using water and grease and she would always tell me that my hair was pretty. She kept my hair natural and would braid and put beads on my hair. I loved that so much. I don't remember my mother ever telling me that my hair needed to be fixed or was nappy and ugly. She gave my hair a lot of TLC. As I got older and had to live with my grandmother I had a totally different experience. I recall wearing my hair parted down the middle with cornrows or flat twists along with a bang, pony tails, etc. But my grandmother/aunt got tired of having to do my hair and started warm combing/pressing my hair, but they soon discovered that the pressing was not lasting so they had a relaxer put in my hair when I was 12 years old. I never understood why I had to get something put in my hair that burned the crap out of my head.

When did you first go natural? Why? If you returned to relaxers, why did you return to that?

I first went natural in the Fall of 2001(right after my husband popped the question...LOL). I went natural because, my hair got so mangled and tangled after taking out braid extensions, which resulted in a lot of breakage. I cut off the relaxed ends myself and rushed to Regis to have it shaped up. I quickly went back to putting chemicals in my hair. I got married in 2002 and for the wedding I was sporting a texturizer. Shortly after that, I returned to relaxing my hair. I returned to the chemicals, because I did not know how to care for my natural hair. The second time I went natural, I was more informed and had purchased natural hair books and was addicted to nappturality.com. My last relaxer was February 2003, got braid extensions in April 2003 and did the big chop in June 2003. I had the big chop planned and had a cosmetologist do the cut. I felt so free and so fine with my twa. The second time going natural, I knew how to care for my natural hair and was very confident rocking my twa.



How did you wear your hair at different stages in your life?

As a child I wore braids, pony-tails with a bang. The two braids/flat twists. My teenage years I wore the big hair. College years, wore my hair big, bobs, curled under most of the time. At my wedding, my hair was texturized. Out of college I wore curled under, french rolls, etc. Whenever I didn't want to do anything to my hair, I would wear my hair pulled back in a scrunchie; In my early 30s I became a natural sister and haven't looked back. Natural styles I've worn; twa, 2-strand twists, twist outs, braid outs, afro-puffs, curly puff, sisterlocks.


Did you have problems with your locks? What were they?I didn't have any problems with my locks.
It just took a long time for my hair to completely lock. I don't recall having any problems with my locks, other than what I mentioned earlier about the thinning on right front-side my head.


How do friends and family react to your hair?
My family is okay with my hair and have gotten use to my hair. When I first went natural my family had some issues with my hair. My mom and dad would ask me when I was going to fix my hair. I would tell them that its already fixed. But it died down when they saw that I wasn't changing my hair anytime soon. I do recall a lady from my church commenting on my sisterlocks and I didn't appreciate it at all. She said that she did not like my hair. My locks were probably shoulder length at the, and I quickly told her that this is all my hair (she thought my I had extensions). The comment came from a person with relaxed damaged hair with no edges. My friends don't comment, they also know I'm not changing and that I'm happy with my hair.

Attitudes like natural hair are contagious. How many people have you inspired? Any stories.

A young lady that I use to work with did the big chop not long after I did the big chop. I let her read some of my natural hair books and she did the big chop shortly after, but she did not stay natural for long. :( It was great knowing that I inspired her to wear her natural hair texture.

What did you like best and least about your sisterlocks?
I liked the versatility in the styling options that I had. The only thing I liked least was re-tightening time.
Do you have plans for your hair? A new style? Color?
At this time, I am working on maintaining a head of natural hair. Growing my natural hair long is my priority at this time. I've been thinking about color, but that's it.

What would you like readers to know about your hair journey?
I like for the readers to know that the longer I stay natural the more confident and free I am. Loving all of me, just the way I am. I'm embracing the natural and experiencing the peace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bold & Beautiful Inspiration

Many people ask me about when/if I'm going to take my Sisterlocks out or what I am going to do once I take them out? I don't know when I'll part with Sisterlocks. But when I do, I will be bald or have hair less than inch long.

Here is my inspiration:


Top Left to Right: Noni Gasa, India Aire, Amber Rose and Grace Jones


Bottom Left to Right: Tennille Stoute, Erykah Badu, & Noemie Lenoir

And let's not forget Josephine Baker!



As you all know, Solange recently cut her hair too. Why you might ask?

This is reportedly from her twitter page:


"listen. if. i. wanted. to. make. a. statement. i. would. have. twitpic’d. photo shoot. ect. i. was. simply. taking. my. son. to. school. stupid. paps. took. pic. ive. had. my. hair. cut. like. this. for. two. weeks. i. was. NOT. inspired. by anyone. but. my. self. i. have. done. this. twice. in. my. life. i. was 16. i was 18. did. not care about your opinion. then. dont. care. now. dont. need. your. attention. or. your. co-sign. dont. want. a. edge. up. or a perm. because. im not trying. to make this “a style” or a statement. i. just. wanted. to. be. free. from. the. bondage. that. black. women sometimes. put. on. themselves. with. hair. this. phase. of. my. life. i. want to spend . the time. the energy. and the money. on something else. not in the hair salon. im. not. mad. at . all of you. that have made your opinions known. and have sent negative. energy. my way. i expected this of you. you. have. the right to have. an opinion. so. do. i."

What are your after locks plans?
Have you ever done the big chop?
Any comments, tips, or advice?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Retightening Rituals

What I've noticed in the past year or so is that retightenings vary among consultants and DIYers greatly.

I want to get your feedback on a few things.


First, does your SL Consultant (or you for DIYers) mist your hair or retighten your hair damp? Or does she insist on it being dry?


Second, does your consultant (or you for DIYers) groom as she goes? By groom, I mean cut loose hair and pick lint out. Or is that a second appointment?


Speaking of cutting, do you or your consultant cut in between your locks at the scalp where the part is? Or do you pull or pop the locks apart? Any advantages or disadvantages either way?


If you DIY, do you take the day by day approach or do you finish at one time?


When you have a lot of new growth in between parts do you combine it into a nearby lock or do you make a new lock?


How often do you get a retightening?


I look forward to everyone weighing in on this one!!! :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Love My Locs Magazine

The magazines I love are always going under. For example, Vibe, Suede, Vixen, Honey and now Domino are all defunct. So, I was happy when I found that I had another magazine to set my sights on! I am encouraging everyone who has the resources to purchase this magazine and the ones who don’t to download it.

If you have been lacking in locked or Queen inspiration, your eyes and mind are in for a treat. The magazine is available for purchase and download HERE.

Magazine/Photo Credits: by Kitty Soulflower

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Promising Partnership

I have partnered with http://www.zurique.net/ to further brand http://www.adornbysophia.com/ as a leader in handmade natural hair accessories. Here is what I have produced lately. I am currently working on a very special line. More details to come so stay tuned. ;p

Friday, August 7, 2009

Update to "Dreads Damaging?"

Hello Bloggers,

In an effort to have transparent communication I am posting the e-mails I received and my response to of http://www.longlocks.com/ . In the post Dreads Damaging? , I addressed Susan (author/owner) about step number 8 in her highly acclaimed Ultimate Guide to Growing Long Hair, which is seriously comprehensive and has great tips. I invite you to read and follow her advice for growing healthy hair.

My only problem with the guide was in step 8.


She has since changed this statement regarding dreads

From:


"Dreads almost always have to be cut off to be removed and are tremendously damaging to hair."


To :

"Also, if you choose to style your hair in dreads, please consider it to be a permanent change. While the dreads themselves will remain healthy (in fact, many find this a great way to grow otherwise "ungrowable" hair), they unfortunately almost always have to be cut off to be removed and the hair involved usually cannot be "undreaded."


This is tons better! Kudos to Susan for making the improvements.

I erroneously stated that she did not reply to me immediately. She did! My spam filter blocked her e-mail. I apologize to her and to you for my inaccuracy.

Here is my response to her below:

Susan,


Thanks for your responses. I apologize for not replying sooner. I greatly appreciate your responses.


First, I'd like to clear some misunderstandings. My intention was not to ridicule you. As I wrote previously, my intention was to have a mutually beneficial dialogue about something you posted that was referenced in a national magazine. Lucky magazine initiated the public forum as I would not have read or even heard about your guide otherwise. I feel, along with my readers, that there was some ambiguity and negativity regarding this statement:

"Dreads almost always have to be cut off to be removed and are tremendously damaging to hair."

You have since, both changed this statement and educated me about my misunderstanding your sentence. I am happy you saw fit to change the statement; and I apologize you feel I misinterpreted your words and acted unfairly. The reason I didn't see your immediate response is because of my spam filter on my gmail account. I take full responsibility for this and apologize sincerely for not realizing that you responded.


Again, I think your guide, hair recipes, and hair accessories are all great. I appreciate you doing the research and corresponding with me. I wish you happiness, peace, and great fortune with your business.

Respectfully,

Sophia

This is her previous response to me:


Sophia, I am resending this as you state erroneously on your blog that I did not send you a response, which as you can see below, is incorrect.

If I have been misinformed by the many who have confirmed for me that removing dreads cannot usually be done at all, much less without leaving seriously damaged hair, I will be more than happy to change my article once I have substantiated information from a trusted professional source. I happen to love dreads and have absolutely nothing against them, and many of my long-time customers have absolutely beautiful dreads. Again, my statement referred only to removing them, not actually wearing them, and was well-researched before being included in my article.

There is nothing appropriate about ridiculing me in a public forum for something that is apparently a misunderstanding on your part, especially without including the response you were previously sent, and I hope you accept the responsibility of correcting your error. I have no hard feelings, as I do feel this was an honest mistake on your part, but I really don’t feel you are being fair in your representation of me nor or LongLocks, and would like to see this end on a happy note. Long hair, *any* kind or style of long hair, is *always* a good thing!

And this is her first e-mail reply to my post:

I think you misunderstood the statement. In order to be *removed* from hair, dreads almost always need to be cut off. Also, the hair that is actually in the dreads is destroyed and cannot be “undreaded.” Don’t worry, I always do my research first!

I have removed your comments from my blog, which really has nothing to do with LongLocks. You’ll find a “contact us” link in the menu on the left-hand side of every page of the LongLocks HairSticks Boutique if you need to grab our attention about anything LongLocks related.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts. Please share.

Monday, August 3, 2009

See It: Medicine for Melancholy

I went to the Atlanta premiere of this movie. There isn't a reason why any 20 something, African American who has ever defied any racial stereotype would not both like and get this movie. I even think all others would appreciate it. My mom did.

The protagonist in the film is both interesting and charming. As you follow him and her through their day, you see many aspects that affect people of color as they live. This movie particularly addresses both race and class in a kind of non-preachy, matter of fact way through the main character's (Micah) perspective.

The female lead has an effortless way of being in the film. As the character continues to unfold, you see her depth and way of being in a clear unconviluded kind of point of view.

This movie is significant for me because it is a movie written and directed by a Black man who's female representation doesn't conjure men in women's gear fufilling some stereotype or another. It is also significant because it ties together the role of race in this "post modern" era with 2 young black people that don't necessarily identify with things perhaps society associates with Black culture.

Kudos to Barry Jenkins and company for making such a cool film with Wyatt Cenac (Micah, male lead) and Tracey Heggins (Jo, female lead).

Director Barry Jenkins and Rob Fields, who is a fellow blogger, hosted a dialogue after the movie about the film and the definition of being Black at this time in America. Farai Chideya gave a much needed feminine point of view to the discussion.

I would like Black female representation in films and on T.V. I mean sure a Black woman wrote Grey's Anatomy and Cheryl Dunye and Neema Barnette are both good African American filmakers among others. But I just feel our point of view, especially that of a Generation Y or Millenial Black woman is being overlooked. Maybe I will just be the change in the world I want to see and write my own film? Hmmm...

This movie will leave you thinking.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fully Magnificent! The Nina Simone Tribute Atlanta



I went to this awesome concert as The National Black Arts Festival (http://www.nbaf.org/) paid tribute to Nina Simone. It was phenomenal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't think I have the words to express how wonderful it felt to be a part of the experience. Nina Simone was properly honoured last night. She is a legacy, a classically trained musician who composed over 500 songs whose body of work won 15 Grammies, an honorary doctorate of music, and supported the Civil Rights Movement in her songs.


The night was filled with stories of her strength and her tenderness. I really appreciated the insight from many of the people about Nina's character. For example, not only her daughter was there, but also her sister and former neighbor, the Sr. Vice President of the Coca Cola Company, Ingrid Saunders Jones.



It was definitely a night to remember. Four members of her band played. What a treat! Guitarist Al Shackman, bassist Chris White, percussionist Leopolo Fleming and British drummer Paul Robinson played as Lizz Wright, Joi, Lisa Simone Kelly (Nina Simone's daughter), and Dianne Reeves brought the house down! People had goosebumps, chills, and bursts of applause. Everyone has a night to remember. It was sold out, completely!

Lizz Wright appeared first onstage in a stunning rose and black evening gown with no shoes at all. She was stunning and definitely didn't need them. I had the perfect view sitting in the first balcony directly in the center. Lizz Wright, a sister GA native, (just listen to her astounding voice) sang a number of moving songs including "Lilac Wine" and "I Love You Porgy". If you don't have her album, you are missing a treat from a young, amazing vocalist.









Simone, appeared next, she gave a delightful rendition of "Work Song" and later a fantastic performance of "Feelin Good"



with audience participation included. Her locks were piled nicely atop her head and she looked very cat like and regal with an Afrocentric dress and wedges. She was tall and had a presence and command of the audience that went with her dynamic voice.




Atlanta's own Joi delivered my favorite "Ne Me Quitte Pas". She admirably didn't miss a single lyric. She also gave a notable performance of "To Be Young Gifted and Black". She held her own and is talented within her own right.





Dianne Reeves gave a spirited and playful performance of "Be My Husband".





The woman's voice is incredible. Se can make her voice sound soft and demure loud and powerful then both at the same time. It sounds like gospel, jazz, and blues. Then her voice sounds like it will only come from the left or then the right and turn itself into a percussion instrument and a flute the next. Wow! Just watch. This performance was not half as good as she performed at the show I went to was.





In the last performance, the four women sang "Four Women". I was not expecting to get 17 songs and 2 hours of continuous entertainment. It exceeded any expectations I had. By the way, I saw many young Sisterlocked sistahs who complemented me, awwh shucks! Must post recent pics. Also, it was the first time I've gone to a concert alone. How liberating?!