I Big Chopped- Alex

 
 As a person of mixed race, I always looked at my white mother's beautiful curly hair with envy and wondered how I got stuck with this kinky, messy, birds nest of an excuse for hair. My aunts, cousins, grandmother and even great-grandmother all had these manageable manes that seemed to glow in my eyes. And because I didn't have my father or his family in my life, my gullible but well-intentioned white family fell to the mercy and "expertise" of hair stylists. And after 17 long years of depending on relaxers, I decided to go natural.
 
Were you a long term or short term transitioner and why?
No. I did not have the luxury of transitioning. My hair was so horrendous that It was big chop or bust! I Big Chopped on December 17th, 2007.

 Why did you choose to go natural
There were a lot of reasons that I decided to go natural, but they all eventually led to and stemmed from one traumatic event. My aunt hooked me up with a stylist in Union City, NJ. Her name was Phyllis and her shop was typical of a black hair salon. There was a barber named Kofi who kept everyone laughing, and someone was always walking in and trying to sell you food or bootleg DVDs. I went there every other Saturday to have my roots touched up and have my hair pressed so good that people NEEDED to run their hands through it. I went to her one weekend and she took my halfway-to-my-bra-length-hair and cut it below my shoulders without my permission. I should've ran then. But, no ladies, I didn't and it did not end there! I went to her still, with my mother who spent about $150 every two weeks, to finally give me the hair I always wanted. And in one visit, Phyllis ruined my day, my year and my social life. She put a relaxer on me that not only will I NEVER forget, but it would be the last one I'd ever have. She applied it, like every other time, and let it sit for the allotted time, like every other time. However, this time it hurt. I said several times that it burned, and asked if we could take it off. She kept saying no, no it is supposed to burn, that means it's working.  She rinsed me off and the water made my scalp feel like hot lava was being poured on it. She had burned sores into my scalp. And to put the icing on the already burned cake, she proceeded to spray said sores with rubbing alcohol, all while insisting it would help. I cried myself to sleep that night. The next day my head was completely crusted over in blood. I couldn't brush my own hair. From then on my hair deteriorated, matted, and became completely unfixable. I was brushing my hair for work one day and my bangs broke off at my new growth. I was devastated. I decided then to go natural!  
 
What was your initial reaction to your natural hair
I loved it. I loved what it meant. I felt free and real. And oh my God! With my new hair EVERYONE thought I was a model! The attention was a real pick-me-up from the trauma I had lived with through the last months of high school. Not only that but I had a physical reaction to it. After my Big Chop I left the salon and  felt the cool December breeze on my scalp for the first time in my life. THAT is a feeling I will never forget. I may cut all of my hair off just for that feeling again.. Naah!

How did family and friends react to the new you
My family always pushed for me to have short hair. My aunt made it a special day for me. I was picked up in a town car, brought to my stylist, and we all had dinner in New York City. They ranted and raved. They loved it. They loved my second BC more because it was more of a style with my hightop fade.
 
 
I loved that they supported me, and although I didn't have their kind of hair, I felt like I could let my figurative hair down, and stop freaking out about why I don't have what they have.

What was your initial routine?
In the beginning, nothing. I was naive and didn't put in the work to make my hair flourish, which is why I BC'd a second time. After that, I used only olive oil, raw shea butter, and Garnier Fructis' sleek shine conditioner only. I only co-wash. And MAYONNAISE treatments. Like real mayo. Like I'm done putting this on my sandwich, now I'm gonna put it in my hair, mayo.
 
In the beginning I relied heavily on a headband, even though I had no hair. After a few months my hair went through some crazy stages. And I tried to hide that with ribbons and bobby pins.

Today my hair is flourishing. 

Anything else to add?
At the end of the day, you gotta love yourself,right? That includes your hair girls! 

22 Weigh in!:
LBell said...

I'm glad everything worked out for you but that relaxer story...OMG...I feel like I'm experiencing post-traumatic relaxer syndrome reading that. I want to reach back in time and beat the crap out of that stylist for doing that to you. How many black women get that kind of treatment and JUST ACCEPT IT and KEEP GOING BACK?? I did...I had sores like that on my nape not once but several times over the years...and I never made the connection. The #1 reason why I went natural was so that I would know my hair well enough such that I would NEVER AGAIN be dependent on someone else for my hair care. I'm convinced that ignorance is the #1 killer of black women's hair. Sorry for the rant but yeah...this just upset me...

mothereartha said...

nice...sounds like her family is very supportive :)...beautiful girl

Miss Anne said...

Oh Alex... that hair!!! Loved reading your story and I completely agree with your last words. My dad always says: Love yourself... and I todally do :)

Kudos said...

OMG!!! I was traumatized with you!! Oh goodness!
Anyway, LOVE your hair, it's looks GREAT and LOVE your family's support!

Alexandria Sullivan said...

You are absolutely right. Ignorance and fear keeps the creamy crack companies alive!

keisha said...

wow! such a touching story! sorry you had to go through that but the good thing is you found YOU in that journey! beautiful hair and woman!

Sweetdrk1 said...

It is such a small world. I truly believe all things unfold as they should. I worked with this young ladies Aunt at NJ Bell and I remember being very concerned and always asking what to do to her hair. She did not want her to feel less than because of her hair. Ironically her aunt inboxed me to show me her FABULOUS Afro the other day but didn't know how to attach it LOL! So I had the honor of talking to this angel and my heart skipped a beat. I remember the little girl and I am so very proud to see the young woman!!

cecily malone said...

OUCH!!!! sorry that trama. but i love the natural hair

Carla said...

Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing ;) It looks like you are in a great place today despite the terrible trauma that stylst put you through, smh. Sometimes I just don't understand these hairstylists.

Alexandria Sullivan said...

Hi Gaye!!!!!!!

Davina916 said...

Lovely pics!

Bridget Johns said...

Amazing hair and story! I can totally relate to the relaxer story. Something similar happened to me and it was when my hair starting falling out in chunks that I declared no more. It has been over 10 years now and I haven't turned back.

RazzyYazzy said...

You have beautiful cotton candy hair. Wonderful.

Suzie CurlMichael said...

Oh my, Little Baby Jesus! Reading your “My Last Relaxer” story was just heart wrenching. I knew the story was going to a bad bad place shortly after you began. I couldn’t help but mouth a shrieking “nooooooo” as soon as you said the stylist (as if she even deserves that title) refused to rinse the creamy crack out the moment you said it didn’t feel right. It’s a wonder you emerged from this tragic experience with hair that could grow at all, much less hair that has grown so thick, and big, and healthy, and beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me where we get our power and our voice from. It’s great that you used that tragic expereince to take your power back. Kudos!

CurvyCurly said...

Alex ~ your story about the chemical burns took me waaaay back. Reading your words made me feel your pain! That was a horrible experience but it literally forced you to embark on your natural journey.
By the way, your 'fro is Off The Chain Gorgeous! Luv it, werk it!

Deb said...

If it were me, I would have sued that stylist. No joke.

Alexandria Sullivan said...

I should have. I regret not doing it. It might have saved someone else's hair. Anyone who deals with dangerous chemicals and people's head have no room for error!

Sweetdrk1 said...

Hi sunshine!! So proud of you!!

Derika said...

I'm loving the last pic! I wish my family was as supportive as your family when it comes to natural hair. My family is always suggesting that I straighten my hair around the edges. For what though? I might as well get a perm! Sorry for the rant lol. You are just very blessed with a supportive family!

Pecancurls said...

Your hair is beautiful! Lovin' that fro! Kudos to your family for being so supportive. I had a bad flashback to my perm days when I read your story. A chemical burn patch near my left ear was one of the reasons I went natural (that and I wanted to exercise to lose some weight). Thankfully JBCO has helped to regrow that area.
I hear you ---- you've got to love every bit of yourself!

Sika said...

I'm sorry for the hair trauma that led up to your big chop but I'm soo happy to hear about your experience and your support from your family. I especially love how they made the BC such a grand event! If only we showed ourselves and received more loving expressions and grand gestures to celebrate ourselves, how much better things would be!

Shashou said...

Its good to see something like this experience turn out so well. Kudos to you for not giving up on your hair.

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