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.