Locpics #1

Well, this is pretty different from my usual content! On January 20th 2020, I decided to go and get starter locs put in – a decision that has started a months-long process as my hair locks up and becomes fully formed, mature dreadlocks. This monthly series of blogs will document my journey in detail, and will assume that the reader has some basic knowledge of natural hair and locs.

I did as much research as I could before I did this, but I couldn’t really find answers to all of my questions – the biggest one being ‘is my hair type going to lock up okay’?

By this, I really meant ‘is it going to end up looking neat? How long will it take to properly lock? Will it get long? Will it unravel? Will it fall out? Will I end up regretting this?’

Of course, I still don’t know the answers because I’m only a week in! I have no clue what kind of locs I might end up with, how big they might be, or what the various stages might look like for me. I also have no idea how long this will take, other than it’ll probably be somewhere between six months and a year – maybe even two years.

My main problem when trying to figure stuff out was that most of the progress pictures and videos I found didn’t actually show people’s hair before they got it locked – just what it looked like straight after, or from day 1 to month 6, or even longer. So part of the reason I’m doing this series is to document and share my experience for other people who want to know how it might go!

Having said that, everyone’s hair does different things when it’s locking up, and honestly I have never really been able to pin down my hair type. My best guess is that my hair is a mix of a couple of different textures – some 3C, some 4A.

Here is my hair an hour or so before I went to get loc’d up. I hadn’t done anything other than wash and condition it.

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As you can see, I have some defined curls, but also a lot of hair that isn’t very defined at all. So…if anyone can tell me what hair type/s I have, please please do!

Anyway, I went to the loctician (Morris Roots) and he did my hair. I asked for medium sized locs and it took about four hours (including drying time). He also gave me a product he said I should use if my scalp gets itchy. It’s a salon-specific brand called ‘The reviver’, and is a honey hair tonic.

Here’s what it looked like straight after:

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And here’s what it looks like today, one week in:

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So we’re already seeing a little bit of fuzziness and growth, but that’s okay and as far as I understand, totally normal.

And that’s that for this month’s update! In the next one, I’ll show you what my hair looked like before and after getting it washed and retwisted. See you at the end of February!

H x

Subtle Forms of Racism to Avoid in SFF

I gave this talk at Eastercon on 20th April 2019.

Hello friends, and thank you very much for coming! I do appreciate it. Before I get started, I’d just like to note that there will be explicit discussions of racism in this talk, so please feel free to step out if need be.

This is my first time at Eastercon – thank you again, this time for being my first audience here – so many of you won’t know who I am. My name is Helen Gould, and I’m a writer, editor, sensitivity reader, speaker, poet, and also clearly a millennial judging by the number of things I do to stay afloat. The talks I give broadly fit into a category of sociopolitical issues in media. My past talks have titles like Wakanda, Africa, and Alternate Futures, Get Out: The Horror of Whiteness in 2017, and Fanfiction and PTSD: Going Beyond The Winter Soldier.

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White Worlds

I was at Nine Worlds this weekend. Most of it was absolutely fucking awesome and I would like to thank everyone who came to the panels I was in (and my fab Monsterhearts group!).

However, the part that was not awesome was REALLY FUCKING SHIT. Shit enough to trigger a flight or freeze response. Shit enough that when somebody in the audience actually supported me I cried. Shit enough that I am now feeling angry enough to write over 2000 words about it.

Strap in.

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The Unmaker

When you wake up, the monster is still there.

She is shredding flowers, covering her lap in bright petals again. She has done this all day, every day since you arrived. When you try to think about it, you cannot remember how long it’s been.

Sometimes she has something else in her hands. You have seen a heart, a flame, a ripple of water all delicately torn apart. There is something strange about that, but you forget the specifics.

Neither of you have spoken yet. You know you had a purpose: an important and serious one. It was big enough to make you leave the village, and dangerous enough that your spear was blessed by the priests in their mourning robes.

But you’ve forgotten it. You’ve forgotten all of your questions, except one. You grasp it tightly before it slips away.

“What are you really doing?”

She finally looks at you, showing too many faces that shift like a kaleidoscope. All of her speaks at once. “What do you think?”

Think, think. It takes you a while. “Killing things. Destroying them.”

Her laughter echoes. “Is anything here alive to begin with?”

You consider it, though your head soon begins to hurt. You used to know this. You used to know what she is, how to make her tell the truth, how to avoid her tricks; that was what gave you hope. But it all drains away like water when you look at her. And you can’t stop looking at her.

She raises an eyebrow expectantly and you abruptly remember the question. “No?”

“No. They only look like they are.”

There is silence again. You don’t know for how long. You are outside time and you are becoming afraid. Unworthy of your people. How will you get back?

A thought bubbles out of you. “Am I dead?”

She has a lot of teeth. “Do you think you should be?”

You know how to do this. You know what to ask. Try again. “How did I get here?”

“You walked.” She is looking at her flower almost sadly. “You had pride and courage and stupidity. And you walked to me.”

“Can I go home now?”

All of her eyes look at you sadly. “You can try.”

Oh. Wrong question. Your fingers tingle. As you watch, they harden and sharpen, beginning to gleam.

She gives you a flower.