All Mine: The Big Chop

I chopped my hair off last Monday night and this is what it looks like:

This Wednesday will mark 10 months since my last relaxer, and it would be an understatement to say transitioning has been interesting. For the longest I planned to finally big chop on my one year anniversary or perhaps a couple months later, but the straggling straight ends have consistently been irritating me with each passing day, tangling, barely hanging on and impeding the view of my natural locks. The more I read and talked to other people it was more evident that my last relaxed ends were only stunting my growth. And finally, when I washed my hair last week I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s gonna grow back, I told myself. Better now than later. Besides, my natural curl pattern is one with a lot of shrinkage, so I better get used to my hair looking shorter than it is. Out came the scissors, down went the damaged hair.

It was the most excited I’ve ever been. I didn’t feel like a new person, I just felt really happy, and I felt like myself, like a side of myself I hadn’t really known. I felt my hair and wanted to squeal with joy. Then I felt weird. For the first time in as long as I could ever remember I couldn’t pull my hair back. I couldn’t do a lot of things with it. It was perplexing to say the least. It’s amazing how much of our appearance is tied to our hair, and how much of ourselves we tie to our appearance, all of which are sad realities when you think about it. Some people didn’t even notice the difference, and those who did all had positive things to say, which naturally was encouraging. But I didn’t do this for anyone else, or a shock factor, I did it for me. I did it for the daughter (or daughterS) I hope to have one day.

What did I learn from this experience? Patience is a virtue, but diligence pays off. If you want something, don’t let anyone stop you, don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t make a change for the better. And don’t be imprisoned by expectations. Often we get let down if we have them, and quite honestly, we have so many unwarranted expectations that don’t mean anything. I expected to get relaxers all the time for every “important” moment of my life because that’s what it took for me to look “pretty.” I expected that having hair that was longer than the day, or month or year before was some benchmark of success. And if you get caught in those ideas you’ll think you failed or did something wrong when they don’t happen. But really, are you taking care of yourself and who you are? Are you becoming a better version of you? Better isn’t always what other people think, and it’s not always what you think. And most importantly, it has everything to do with who you’ve become in your heart.

A year ago I looked like this:

Selfie!!

Selfie!!

But I’ll take this any day.

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“Black women view their hair as a problem. To enjoy black hair, such negative thinking has to be unlearned.” – Bell Hooks