Why I Chopped My Waist-length Hair Before My Wedding

Photo: Onicia Muller- 2015 Wedding Mirror
By Onicia Muller 

My 27th birthday was on the horizon. I was a late bloomer and introvert who finally felt like life was falling into place. I had my Master’s degree, produced my first play, I could still fit into my jeans from high school, and in a few months, I would marry my OKCupid boo. Oh yeah, I was also having the best hair of my life!


I’m by no means a girly girl, but I had a solid vision of my bridal look before I had a fiancĂ©, let alone a boyfriend. The only thing stopping me was perfect -- not just good -- hair. I wanted to be a carefree bohemian, hippie, cloth-draped goddess a la Vanessa Carlton in her Carousel music video. So, for my birthday, I gathered an entire week’s pay from my part-time call center job and splurged on what I described as a luxury Real Housewives makeover.

To understand my relationship with my hair, we have to go back about seven years when I did the big chop. My natural hair journey started partly because I finally succeeded at destroying my relaxed hair by using too much bleach and heat. Also, I wanted to prove to my cousin that hair length was “locked in our DNA”; black women either had length or they didn’t.


Photo: Onicia Muller - 2008 Hair 
Proof? In our family, most of the women had shoulder-length hair. Still, there was a good number who had bra strap length or longer. We all identified as black, had mostly the same texture, and same-ish styling habits. To me, DNA or God’s plan could be the only differentiating factors.

My cousin insisted that Kim Love (Kimmaytube) had the secret to growing long, afro-textured hair. Sure, my cousin’s hair had improved over the past two years -- she’d graduated from chin-length and finally joined the shoulder-length club -- but I chalked the new growth up to simply taking better care of herself. She was a wild one who used to unbraid her cornrows from the CENTER, not the ends. Savage.

As for me, all of my life, my relaxed hair rested just passed my shoulders. My stylist became scissors happy anytime it came near my bra strap. Hatred. “Whoever did your hair last didn’t do a good job.” Trick, you did my hair last! Whatchu talkin' bout?!

By year four post big chop (two years following Kim Love’s methods) I was pushing past armpit length and it seemed like my strands had no intention of splitting or breaking.


Photo: Onicia Muller - 2014 hair 
My friends were tired of me wearing granny twists and wanted me to show off my hair so, in year 5, I wore my hair in my version of micro braids. With this style, I just braided the first 2-3 inches and the let the rest loose. The results: I was cute, but my growth stagnated leaving my hair to hover around bra strap length

Could I break through to the next milestone? All my cousins were routing for me. People who I’d never spoken to in years messaged me for my secrets. As a black woman who had been teased for being dark-skinned, too thin, and having a long torso (girl, people will find anything to criticize), I started to depend on my hair as my claim to beauty. Getting engaged to a biracial man didn’t help any. Every time someone mentioned our future kids, my inner rage grew. “Our children will be beautiful because I am beautiful! Also, I been growing hair. I don’t need this man's DNA I’m bringing my own!!”

Year 5 post big chop was all about personal growth. I left my tiny Caribbean island with a mission to achieve world domination by sharing Caribbean stories with the worlds. I was enamored with the idea that the hair on my head had traveled with me to three different countries and many adventures. What began as a silly science experiment, turned into pride, and then a crutch.

It was around this time I started seeing a therapist. I was emotionally constipated and wanted a life of balance. During this year of personal growth, I signed up for a 5K and dusted off my OKCupid profile. 

Photo: Onicia Muller – 2015 Makeover 
Three years later, I found myself at a fancy hair salon hoping that spending $200 versus the standard $50 to flat iron my hair would make me feel beautiful. I even dropped an extra $100 so that a M.A.C. makeup artist could work her magic on my face.

What did I get for blowing an entire week’s paycheck on a makeover? Deep. Ultra-deep disappointment. My makeup was horrible. I could do a better job with my eyes closed. My hair was ratty! Pfft, with 3 hours and some John Frieda I could get my hair bone straight at home. This expensive stylist did a job so shoddy that I was poofy within hours.

I was livid. I was dizzy. I was sick.

My fiancé preferred the natural me. A week later, I went to the bathroom intending to cut bangs, or layers, or just anything to make my hair look better. The result was me chopping my near-waist-length hair into a medium bob just months before our wedding.

It was a raggedy bob that took several sessions to get leveled. My friends mourned. On some days I desperately wanted a weave. However, I’d achieved the most important growth milestone; higher self-esteem. I knew then that I didn’t need “biracial curls” to be beautiful. I didn’t need super long hair to be special. Everything I needed to feel like my best version of me I had naturally.

My hair journey ended when I finally fell in love with me.

*****


Is your self-esteem tied to hair length?

Onicia Muller is a Caribbean writer and comedian currently freezing her buns off in Chicago. A former crime reporter and children’s columnist, she's found her happy place writing about women in entertainment. If you're into oversharing, read her weekly humor column Just Being Funny in The Daily Herald’s Weekender. In June 2018, she received IGNITE Caribbean's 30 Under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders and Changemakers award for her work as a cultural influencer.

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