by Chai of Back to Curly

Doing the Big Chop is often times a newly natural’s least favorite part along the natural hair journey for reasons that seem to manifest themselves with each backhanded compliment thrown their way. Many choose to transition for longer periods of time in order to avoid the pits, falls and bewildered stares from our loved ones & friends…but for those who do embark on the road to BIG CHOP and regularly digest the misperceptions and ignorance of others…be safe in this: you are not alone.

Today it’s remarkably easy to look back and regard with new understanding the bad compliments and judgments from most of my family. There were MANY, but none more complex and sordid than that of my own mother. My first BC over 10 years ago shook my mother up something awful…the cold shoulders, and questionable eyes followed me around for weeks…months at a time until the shape of my head grew into something more feminine. For a Caribbean mother hair….LONG hair at that, is your saving grace…your accessory du jour if ever you forgot to wear your favorite earrings or necklace.

There was disappointment and fear written across my mum’s face, and yet this was something I could not rightfully apologize for. At 18 I was swallowing up a new identity and outlook on life similar to many of my peers, and it felt right. Why apologize for coming into your own, no matter what path you choose? This was my first lesson…my first BC, and over time she came to understand.

There’s no momentous white flag to inform you of this acceptance, but hindsight will send you proof. Your loved ones still love you, still care and accept…even if they don’t understand. That is their own journey to take. Years later after a second BC, there was another teetering of doubt strewn across my mum’s face. Again.

Thankfully, this time it did not linger long enough to cause another rift. Instead, I talked to her as a young woman would to any mother, and allowed her the space to get to her kind of normal, I’d already reached mine. Her perceptions based on my decision to go natural remained just that…her own. And because of this…years later she was able to embark on her own natural hair journey. Ironically today, we’re able to gossip over the phone about hair regimes, products she’s trying, hair creams I love and at-home mixes that are incredibly easy to make!

We are all our doubter’s, mother’s, family’s greatest inspiration…even if we cannot see it from the beginning. Stepping out on fear, and loving the journey regardless of detractors and naysayers is what solidifies any person’s decision to be who they are. Believe in it though…there is safety in everyone’s true authenticity.