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FEATURES Jul 4 2014 1:21PM

Lisa’s Summer Braids: Something Old, Something New!

I began braiding my hair as a teenager many summers ago. Back then the "ethnic” hair care aisle was basically nonexistent, unless you were shopping for a relaxer or a petroleum-laden pomade. It was also a time when I received criticism from others about braiding my hair and looking "less than."
I found comfort in hiding behind the excuse of "it's summer." Braiding meant it was easier to care for at the time of year when my hair could get wet and tangled at any time. That excuse worked when I was a young teen, but became harder for others to accept as I grew into a young adult. 
Braiding my hair became my way to rebel and be different since I had always been a "good girl," one who got great grades and never got in trouble. At age 20, I began to braid my hair all the time. I had tiny micro braids, super-tiny cornrows that swirled in patterns close to my head. I wore beads and shells on the ends of each braid that not only made sounds but made my head look like colorful artwork. I loved it!
As I became older, a wife, a mother and then a business owner, it became harder for me to find the time to be a rebel. I usually stick to my curly look, and at pockets of time I will try something new. It is difficult because I am a brand, and sometimes a style can make you look very different. Also, I am more public than I used to be, and people are very free with their comments, which once again aren’t always kind.
Last summer I had my hair braided and felt so young when I did it. This year I decided to go with a combination of cornrows and twists, and I like it. I am not sure how others will feel, and I would be lying if I said that I am not nervous about a negative reaction, but I can't let that run me. A big part of me being Carol's Daughter is being that person who took risks and did things against the norm. Being that rebel. When I began to sell shea butter–based products in 1993, people looked at me like I was crazy. I actually had someone tell me she "wouldn't rub that 'ish' on a dog's behind." She used the more crass word for "behind." But today, it is a different story—but it wouldn't be if I didn't let myself go through the discomfort and the awkward phases. 
Maybe some will like my braids and maybe some won't. Perhaps I may grow weary of them and opt for a change, but I am choosing to be who I am. Rebel, conformist, leader or follower. However you choose to perceive me, all the while I’ll be rocking my summer hair. 


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