Short Natural Hair = Controversy?
by Kelcie Owens (not pictured) 

It’s funny how one decision can literally change your whole life; your
reputation, the way people treat you, even your own personal attitude
toward life in general. I didn’t know I would at first, but ever since I
big chopped I’ve experienced things that I personally feel have altered
both the way people view me and how I view myself forever. The way
people have reacted to both me deciding to cut my hair short and going
natural at the same time has really opened my eyes to how much power the
way we wear our hair has on our lives. And I feel that I have an inner
strength to deal with situations now that I don’t know if I had before.

So, how was I viewed before I big chopped? Honestly, people just
thought of me as a “pretty girl”. You know, a socially acceptable brand
of attractiveness. I was treated kindly by most people and my appearance
never really solicited any kind of strong response from anyone (except
for when I was obese, but that’s another story :)). I basically lived up
to society’s expectations of me. There’s a sense of comfort people in
general have with sameness. Things are much different for me now. Even
though it’s only been three weeks since I decided to wear my hair short
and natural I’ve literally watched people’s opinions and views of me do a
180 degree turn. Some of these changes have been positive, while others
not so much. It’s strange. Before I feel I was universally acceptable,
like a trusted brand that people know and readily recognize. Now it’s a
coin toss. It feels like my look is controversial now, with people
divided on how to feel about me, and they’re not shy about letting me
know.

To illustrate, my longer relaxed hair never caused various women to
stop me in my tracks and gush about how much they love my hair short or
that I have so much courage to wear my hair like this. My longer relaxed
hair never caused men to stare at me with a confused expression that,
to me, reads “she’s pretty, but why is she wearing her hair in a fade?”
And my longer relaxed hair never caused children to feel the urge to
tell me “my hair looks weird”. The day before yesterday, when I was
shopping with my friends (one of whom is relaxed and the other a natural
wearing her hair in twist extensions) I had a unique encounter with a
guy was standing in front of a store we went to. Ignoring my two friends
who passed me he proceeded to ask me, “you want a tape?” I was like,
“huh?” Then he proceeds to point at his well-shaped hairline! Which
brings me to my next point: people have become more critical of the way I
look. Although I have been told that I have very feminine features,
some people feel I should start wearing make-up or extra jewelry so
people won’t develop opinions about me concerning my sexual preference.
Other people feel I’m this bold, courageous person who doesn’t care what
people think about me since I cut my hair or that I am this
fashion-forward person that follows hair trends. None of this is the
case. I care a lot about what others feel about me and I couldn’t care
less about what’s “in” or not. I literally feel all eyes have been on my
hair lately. I never before had to explain my reasons for wanting to
wear my hair a certain way, now many people desire an explanation for
why my hair is so short!

Most days I take it in stride and deal with the bevy of different
attitudes, views, and treatments toward me ever since I chopped, but
some days I honestly wish I didn’t have to deal with it. All of the
attention I’ve garnered since I’ve chopped has caused me to look at
myself some days and ask the very same question I’ve been hearing on a
regular basis for nearly a month now: “Why did you cut you’re hair?” For
some reason when I ask myself that I smile inwardly because the answer
is so simple: I wanted to. It was my decision to make, and one of the
first ones I ever made without expecting approval from others. And no
matter what others say, how they look at me, or the way they treat me
that fact always leaves me feeling happy with my decision.