Want to Big Chop, but Too Afraid? Read This...
Before we begin, I want to be clear: I’ve been "bald-headed" before. Okay… maybe not in the traditional clean-shaven sense, but definitely in the sense that kids are cruel, filterless beings who will shred your confidence if your hair doesn’t flow down your back in braids, weaves, or natural curls. I vividly remember popping my collar to conceal my short, jagged hair long before Three 6 Mafia made it cool.
I wish there was such thing as YouTube and "Natural Hair Gurus" back in ’03 to help guide my mother through her frustration with the upkeep of my thick curls and tender-headedness because it was at that time my dysfunctional relationship with my hair would begin.
When it comes to hairstyles, I had it all: braids, kinky twist, relaxers, curls sets, cornrows, micro braids, afro, twists, and up until just recently, locs.
I started my loc journey back in 2009 on a whim; at the end of my freshman year of high school I became exasperated with my state of my relaxed hair and began to utilize the convenience of a banana clip (remember those?). Day after day I would slick my hair into a mid to high ponytail, completely unaware of the damage I was inflicting on my edges and surrounding areas. The banana clip was virtually EATING my hair alive! At the seemingly naïve age of 16, I was wise enough to know that my hair and I needed a change, so I advised my step-mother (at the time) that I wanted out and for her to cut my hair.
This would be my first big shop.
My locs grew with me. I will not front and act as if the moment I started my locs, my confidence and self-love heightened; if anything, it diminished. Boys weren’t checking for me in my "ugly stage" and I struggled to find a suiting style of my growing mane. To make matters more difficult, I had no internet access at home, so it took me months to discover my beloved YouTuber, Chescaleigh, who would rescue me from my bewilderment.
It wasn’t until I started college that my gradual glow-up began.
I imagine that if you spotted me on campus it was either because of my style or my locs. Still, I feel it’s important to point out that I never placed my identity in my locs. Let me explain: you know how people have Instagram names like @locstarrr1974 or @dreadheadmami_staypoppin, or how club-goers with locs would take pride in the moment Diamond’s part on “Knuck if You Buck” about "shaking her dreads" would come on? Well, that was never me (okay, maybe a little with “Knuck if you Buck”, but you get my point). In my eyes, I was just Aley who just so happened to have locs, but in the eyes of my peers, I always felt like I was "Aley with the Locs".
Don’t get me wrong, that’s cool and all; it sets you apart from the crowd, but in the same breath, it can limit you.
Locs aside, as a young woman with natural hair, there were times where I felt like I didn’t necessarily have ownership over my hair. Whenever I would bring up the possibility of me cutting my hair, I would always get a “No! Don’t cut your hair, I love your hair!” or a “Yeah, I hear you, but your not really going to do it, right? Your hair is your glory!” I can recall back when I stopped retwisting my hair, and an acquaintance of mine really pulled a “hey, sis… you good?” on me!
This concept of ownership played a larger part of why I postponed my decision to big chop again. In the 9 years of having locs, there were so many women and men, young and old who shared how my loc journey inspired them to start their own, and in this regard, I felt that me cutting my hair would let these individuals down. But, I had to make this decision for myself. Toward the end of 2016, I hated my hair. After a series of bad dye jobs and a change in my diet, I didn’t recognize the hair I had grown to love for nearly a decade. It was at that point, I knew it was time for a change; a fresh start.
And wouldn’t you know, I’m still alive and love my new cut! And what’s even more interesting is that in just a month since I’ve cut my hair, I’ve gotten a number of messages and DMs from young women who have shared how my big chop has inspired them to go through with theirs.
So, what’s my advice?
It's simple: I believe every desire that's been placed in our heart is for a reason. That said, don't dismiss it out of fear. If you feel in your chest that this is the move you want to make with your hair, just do it.
Photos by the amazingly talented, Taylor Jerry (IG: @t4y.10r)
Peace, peace, peace,