I cut my hair. All of it. It was crazy. It was maddening. It was risky. It was liberating.
Everyone had something to say about it.
Upon the frenzy I was experiencing while donning my new hairstyle, my encounter with a friend is something that sticks out the most. He asked “What are you going to do with it now?” I said “Grow it out.” He said “Why? Because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do?” That really made me think. He then told me “Do what you’re happy with doing, not with what you think you’re expected to do.” Then I realized, my hair could grow and I could cut it again. It could be an afro and I could cut it again. I could put twists in and shave the sides, then cut it again. It could be down my back and I could cut it again. I could do anything I very well please. It was my choice to make. My style to rock. My hair to wear. Mine. No one else’s. They don’t have to care for it. They don’t have to wash it. They don’t have to comb it. This is mine.
I feel like me cutting my hair was more of a big deal for everyone else than it was for me. Everyone is still shocked. Surprisingly they’re impressed too. They keep asking “Why?” Well, I could happily walk in the rain at my own speed. I could dance at parties and my hair would never show how much I’ve sweat. I could wash it at anytime I want. There are no boundaries here that were once set on my relaxed hair. I could wear cute fedoras. I could wear big earrings or none at all and still feel beautiful (earrings seem to be a big gender marker with shaved hair. I’m no longer worried about being mistaken for a man). I could feel invincible.
When someone asks me why I cut my hair, I can tell them many more things. I can say that I didn’t believe that “it’s painful to be beautiful”, and by pain I meant scorching my scalp with heat and chemicals just for a straightened outcome. I can say that I didn’t want to deal with having my hair matted to my scalp after a bad burn or waste hundreds of dollars to have it sewn in for me. I can say that my hair was tired, dry, brittle, and therefore breaking as a result of years of perming it. I can say that the decision to have straight hair was made for me through years of brainwash and loathing and now, I’ve decided to make my own decisions with MY hair. I can say I was finally woman enough to make a choice about how I wanted to look. No one else’s input matters.
I’m delighted to be joining in the ever-growing movement that is natural hair. With the straight hair, I cut away all of the chains of conformity, guilt, insecurity, frustration, and self hatred that has manifested over the years. They’ve clung and held me down for far too long. The stigmas have indeed “stung” me while stereotypes wrote me off as ugly and inapt of having long hair. Our ancestors have forcibly rode that “field slave vs house slave” boat, but our generation has jumped right back on and reinvented it into the infamous “Team lightskinned vs Team darkskinned” battle. Among the many variations of which ever “skin” everyone was, I was supposed to fall into the “undesirable” category of a “darkskinned” girl. However, as of now, while I’m coming into my own, all of that is non-existent. Yes my skin is dark, were my ancestors not African? Yes, my hair is nappy, once again, were my ancestors not African? We only want to feel bad when we talk about slavery in history classes. But when it comes to our social culture, we dehumanize each other with the very same labels. With this and many other things taken into account, yes, I will wear red lipstick. Yes, I will shave my head and dye it blonde. Yes, I will do all of the things society (or whomever) tells me I can’t do and do it with the grace of a beautiful black woman. No lightskins or darkskins, just black.
Strength comes from embracing what’s within. Everyday is a step towards loving myself. Truth be told, I was cautious about cutting my hair at first. One main concern? I didn’t want to lose my friends (preposterous I know but a very true reality to me). However, when I realized that people come and go and that it is I who will have to accept myself, my fears disintegrated into nothing.
People have called me brave. I should have asked why. If utilizing my right to have a choice in how I looked was bravery, then so be it. Je suis une femme réincarné. I am a woman reborn. Instead of looking at myself as another follower of natural hair, I see myself as a pioneer of a personal movement. Moving forward, shining my light towards advancement and hoping that light can touch others. What audacity I must have to think I could be elegant, black, and beautiful.
They say that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory. So does the lack thereof make me any less a queen?
I think not.
I think your a beautiful and intelligent black woman. Someone told me I was pretty for a darkskinned girl when I was in highschool I did not understand that at all at 14. I do things that others in society would disapprove like my hair clothing etc.
Awesome story! …..a woman's hair is her crown and glory….. Girl, your comeback question/response what truly thought provoking. Who ever believes what "they" say anyway….
I LOVE THIS, this was so me 9 months ago…I didn't keep it short but I could've…it just grew on it's own out of nowhere lol
"Do what you're happy with doing, not with what you think you're expected to do." Couldnt have said it better
Thank you all so much.. Feel free to check out my other work on my blog too! www.ciel-jaune.blogspot.com
To echo the other ladies, very inspiring and you are very beautiful. It takes a lot of courage to cut your hair very short. The short cut definitely fits you and it is your crowning glory. God Bless!
I did the same thing lol Her skin is amazing 🙂
First, your complexion is GORGEOUS!! I think your words will definitely help someone who may be hesitant to just let the relaxer go. You wrote this beautifully and passionately and I can tell that you really do feel good about the decision that you made. You wear it well sis. 🙂
Very interesting. I have had similar responses when I first went natural and the same feelings surged. Its my hair and I'll do what I choose. I can definitely say I've become more empowered.
" I could do anything I very well please. It was my choice to make. My style to rock. My hair to wear. Mine. No one else's. They don't have to care for it. They don't have to wash it. They don't have to comb it. This is mine. "
This article was stitched and sewn together with pure divaliciousness. You go girl!. One of my biggest pet peeves in the hair community and the forever-w/-an-opinion-type-folks is this lack of flexibility.
Hair is something that grows unlike a limb – if you chop that off you won't grow a new one – so what's all the fuss about how I choose to wear MY hair?
Glad you can laugh because stuff like that used to piss me off!
The gospel truth. This is a very well written piece. We get angry when other races display a "slave mentality " towards us, yet we harbor the same sentiments toward ourselves. We really have to work on loving and uplifting one another more.
Very inspiring! You rock it Shakele!
It's sad to see us back on the "light skinned/dark skinned boat". It's almost like we are afraid to admit that…..we are black!!
You are beautiful. I am proud of you and I am also happy to be a part of the natural hair care revolution!!!
She is gorgeous!!
I have been growing my hair for past three years and thanks to CurlyNikki, im loving it :)…. gossipwelove com
I have been growing my hair for past three years and thanks to CurlyNikki, im loving it :)…. http://gossipwelove.com
All i could hear playing in my head while reading this article is Pink" You Are Beautiful No matter what they say"…Love It!
When I say that chopping my hair down to half an inch was one of the best and most liberating things I could have ever done for myself, very few black people get it. I've BCd 4 times since that initial chop and to be able to do that without fear is truly wonderful. And it's ALWAYS great to read a story from someone else who gets it. Thank you for posting this.
I love this, love this, love this and thank you for your self expression.
BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL. It was SUCH a pleasure reading this story. ''Yes, I will do all of the things society (or whomever) tells me I can't do and do it with the grace of a beautiful black woman''. So powerful, and so inspiring. I have also big chopped and am currently in the 'awkward stage', but this story has helped me realize that it's only an awkward stage if we let ourselves believe it is. This was extremely beautifully written. Thank-you so much for sharing.
Bravo! Bravo! A woman's hair is still her crowning glory whether it's 1/16" long and buzzed or it it's hanging to her behind. The beautiful thing about being a Black woman is that we can rock both and still be gorgeous!!!
Shakele I just want to say with attitude, rolling of the eyes and snapping of my fingers, you go girl!!!!!!
This was very refreshing to read, so honest! This is exactly what my thesis research and art exhibition is about, the point where ideas about beauty, race and identity intersect for black women. Go Girl!!!
That was beautiful and liberating all over again, after being natural for 11 yrs! You are beautiful inside and out and thank you for sharing your experience!
Well written…thank you for posting that. It seems that now that my hair is growing out and not as tamed as my tapered big chop more people are commenting on my hair. Even my three year old nephew asked me over the weekend "Auntie what happened to you other hair" 🙂 never mine the fact that it has been gone for four months and to my amazement he'd never mentioned it before. Im in such a good place right now with my hair. i dont miss the burning perms or tighth sew ins that I never thought I'd be able to live without. A part of me loves to laugh at these idiots who dont get it or cant see the bigger picture but in a few years when my hair is healthy and full they'll still be trying to figure out how to grow their relaxed tresses. Sadly I get more ignorant comments from my black co-workers then anybody else but again I just laugh.
The one thing my dad tells me all too often is: Love Yourself
Shakele, you go girl! Love your bold spirit. You are beautiful inside and out… thanks for sharing such an great story. Keep doing what you do and love yourself more everyday. Don't forget to smile everyday…xxx
this is so inspiring and real! strait up real! this is most likely the realist post i have read in a very long time. it was unpredictable and it was not cliche but it was strait from the heart. stay strong my sister and do your thing, this is very empowering and motivating. you are not alone because i also went through the same emotions as well and i know that many other women do as well and are fist pumping you right now.
about the slave comment *so true* there is still many people that is walking around carrying that slave mentality and not realizing. it is refreshing to see when people are genuinely into the truth and not pretense, or just putting on a show.
Liberating, in the words of India Arie…I am not my hair. I felt empowered when I shaved my head. I would let it grow then shave it again, There is nothing more beautiful than a free woman who isn't afraid to be herself….Lovely
You are a queen and you are beautiful! I'm so tired of this light skinned/dark skinned bull crap! We are all beautiful black women, no matter what color our skin or nappiness of our manes. Our hair is unique to us, a true gift. Waves, curls and coils, kinks, naps and beads. Texture is exciting–straight is boring! Our skin color is something that is quietly coveted by those melanin-challenged folk (The Tanners.) I guess I'm considered light skinned, but it's not some great superpower. Non-Black people still treat me like a Black person and that's fine with me cause that's what I am. We have to change *our* mindsets. The confidence to rock a shaved head, low natural, big fro or dreads on our multicolored selves has to come from within. I'm glad you have found the courage to love you!
Thank you! and yes I have thought about it but never really pursued it
I saw the title, then I saw your skin and wanted to rush through just so I could comment on how absolutely beautiful and glowing you are – but I am SO glad I took the time to read it!
My new mantras:
However, when I realized that people come and go and that it is I who will have to accept myself, my fears disintegrated into nothing.
.Je suis une femme réincarné…. What audacity I must have to think I could be elegant, black, and beautiful.
Oh, right…love your skin, you are beautiful! 🙂
With your positive and empowering attitude you are THE QUEEN of them all. I loved this post. Rock it! Your beauty shines. You've lovely with beautiful bone structure and skin. Have you thought about modeling?
Shakele, beautiful young lady and beautiful words! You are wise beyond your years. Thank you for sharing with us.
What a wonderful story! I too feel the same way about my hair and it's been two years and counting! ROCK IT MAMA, ROCK IT! Peace2fingers
You are very beautiful Shakele! Thank you for your story and all the best in your educational pursuits!
Thank you all so much! I'm currently in my Sophomore year of college and I realized this was a really big issue with a lot of Black women on campus. So I decided to write about it! Feel free to visit my blog
http://ciel-jaune.blogspot.com/ , comment and share 🙂
Beautiful smile. Great story!
Wonderful story! It makes me want to know more about her. Too many times we depend on celebrities to be the pioneers and faces of our personal movement and they disappoint because they are usually part of a passing fad. Let us embrace and uplift one another!
Very well said! Love it!
This is exactly how I felt about going natural! I was a slave to my hair. As a child I loved to swim but when I became a teenager and my hair became so "important" I stopped swimming. I probably could've been an Olympic swimmer if I wouldn't have listened to everyone say the chlorine would damage my hair. Now that I won't have a perm, I can swim again! I'm so excited to be transitioning to natural hair. I have beautiful hair! I always thought my hair was nappy but I'm learning to accept myself. I want my children to accept themselves as well. I will not tell them that their hair is "good" or "nappy".
Wow! "Pioneer of a personal movement"…I like that. You better werrrrk hunny! Beautifully written!
I know, RIGHT?! Written so well too. Thanks Shakele!
Wow! What an amazing and inspiring story!