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I finally did it. I shaved my head…well, just the sides, but I think that still counts. Many years ago, when I had decided to stop using chemical relaxers to straighten my hair, I transitioned into that process by growing out my relaxed ends. I always felt like I had cheated myself out of the ‘Big Chop’ experience, by not taking the plunge of just shaving off my hair and starting from scratch. I had only begun to feel this way just over a year ago. Wearing your hair short in a TWA (Teenie Weenie Afro), had become more than a trend, it had become how many Black women decided to wear their hair and not only were they making a statement, intentionally or not, they looked confident and beautiful in their own skin. I felt confident and beautiful as well, but something had always held me back from shaving my hair. I had to take the time to think about why.
Although, I had been talking about taking the plunge, I kept talking myself out of it. Finally, I had figured it out. I was in love with something and that something was holding me back. I loved my trademark look. I wear a mohawk with Bantu Knots on the sides, and a Bantu Knot-out down the center. That look was made into what is now my logo. Although, I do different things with my hair, I always go back to that style. We always go back to what makes us feel good, and that style made me feel like a million bucks. I loved it because its roots came from Africa and I remember my mom placing my hair in Bantu Knots, as a child, which I hated at the time, but grew to love them as I got older. It also went with my personal style and lifestyle. There were too many things to love about it, but I needed a change and I was afraid to make one. I was speaking to a close friend of mine about my dilemma of wanting to shave my sides, but thought it would affect my branding because everyone had gotten used to the logo being me, my look. All my friend said was, “your logo isn’t a prison.” He is a man of many words, but this was all he offered me and we began speaking about another topic, but that was all I needed to hear. For someone like me, who protests not to care about what others thinks of me, I felt quite silly for overthinking my change.
The day came for the cut. I woke up and almost chickened out. I grabbed a chair, placed it in front of the bathroom mirror, then I grabbed a standing mirror and placed it on the chair, carved out what I wanted shaved, and began the cut with my clippers. Yes, I cut it myself. I have to say the feeling of having the clippers on my scalp excited me and I found the experience exhilarating. I knew something had changed. I had changed in that moment. Although, I had always manipulated my hair so that it looked much shorter, there was a huge difference between that and having short hair. I could see the real shape of my head, I could see my face more, I could see me. Although, confident before, I have a new confidence now and I like it. I’m still the woman in the logo. The identity crisis was over, and I could breathe and relax.
Whether people want to admit it or not, our hair is a big part of our identity. It is what people see when they first see you, meet you, and it is part of how you are essentially perceived within seconds. Unfair, but true. For Black women, how we wear our hair is political whether we base our hair styling on our political beliefs or not. Society judges Black women on everything we do, right down to how we wear our hair. Having straight hair has always been linked to Eurocentric beauty standards and so unfortunately some people think if we wear our hair straight it means, we don’t have an appreciation for our Blackness. You can love being Black and wear your hair straight too. Everyone has their own opinion on that. Key word, ‘opinion’. Hair is an accessory and you should be able to wear it how you wish. I wear my hair in blowouts and flat iron on occasion too just to switch it up a little bit. My only issue with wearing straighter looks is if you have kinky hair and you choose to wear your hair straight every single day of the year and never embrace your kinks. I take issue with that for a few reasons. It isn’t a true representation of who we are as Black people. I also think it confuses little Black girls growing up, who are told they need to appreciate their natural hair and the women around them aren’t showcasing how beautiful their natural hair is. It is easier for children to believe what adults say if they are living it too. Lastly, relaxers aren’t good for us and can have severe damaging long-term effects on us. I don’t have an issue with using heat on the hair if done correctly, but if the heat is abused it can also have damaging effects. Okay, I’m done lecturing for now.
If nothing else, I hope you got from this piece that it’s more than alright to take risks, and not care about what others will think as you may just surprise yourself. Listen to your friends, especially if they always offer great advice, and don’t let anyone police how you wear your hair, including me. Life is short, so shave your head, eat that piece of cake, take that solo trip you’ve always dreamed of, and don’t forget to wink at yourself in the mirror on occasion. It’s good for you.