My MC (mini-chop) Fears
I opted out of doing a BC, partly because I was worried that extremely short hair wouldn't suit me, and partly because, I just wasn't ready to let go of everything....
It sounds weird being that attached to something as trivial as hair. But for me it had become a marker, part of what people used to identify me, and my main 'selling-point'. Some friends introduced me to people and then add "That's her real hair by the way" as if this fact somehow validated me or added to the value of knowing me. After a while I started to believe that it did.
So many friends told me not to cut my hair. They all had different reasons:
- Some people thought it was ungrateful to get rid of such a 'blessing',
- others said it would quite literally reduce my 'bride-price',
- some said it was what made me special and without it I'd no longer stand out,
- while others implied that I'd somehow be less beautiful without my hair.
Such comments made me self-conscious. But I refused to believe that the length of my hair was the only thing that could define me. I didn't want to accept that without it, I'd have nothing more to offer the world, and although no one said this, this is how I was beginning to feel. I was filled with doubt. Maybe they were right. Maybe it was a bad idea to cut my hair. I decided to take some time to really think about it. When I was in Lagos last Christmas, I asked my god-sister to take a picture of a dress I wore. I wanted to send it to a friend. When I did send it he didn't say much about the dress. His first comments were about my hair, and how nice it looked...
This for me was probably what helped me make my decision. If people were going to notice my hair I wanted them to see it in its natural form. I wanted to be free of what was almost becoming a burden. I wanted to defy everyone who had told me cutting my hair was a bad idea. I wanted to prove that natural hair could be beautiful too. I've never thought of myself as being Afro-centric, but as I have gotten older, I do find myself embracing more of my culture, heritage, and race. I was born with a head of thick, soft, black curls, and there was nothing wrong with that. I was going to cut my hair.
I decided I would relax my hair one more time, for my 21st birthday. I wanted to keep my hair long for the last celebration of 2010, and then be rid of it. The stylist that day did more harm than good. The hair did not relax at all, the ends became dry and brittle, and began to split. Maybe it was divine intervention. But now I had no choice. The hair definitely had to go.
I wasn't even nervous as I sat in the Salon chair that day. I was excited. I could literally feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins. Which was weird. As I saw the hair fall to the ground, all I could think of were what I perceived to be negative memories associated with my hair. I remembered the Ex who used to grab large tufts of my dark locks and yank at them, if he wanted me to get up and do something as trivial as pass the remote, and I refused. I remembered that pain. I remembered him telling me I couldn't cut my hair because he wanted to be able to say that girlfriend had long hair. It was such a long time ago, and yet, it was where my mind went first. Was someone really using my hair a way of exercising control over me? I remembered the pressure from aunties and friends and boys who just couldn't understand why I wanted to be rid of this hair.
I remembered all of this and then, I thought of my mum and grandma. Both women have always had long, beautiful hair. Both women have made the transition from relaxed to natural, my mum did the big chop, my grandma transitioned gradually like me. My mum went completely natural, and when she got bored, decided to relax again. Both women looked beautiful to me, with or without their relaxed hair. Both women walked with a sense of confidence and pride no matter what length or style they carried, and I was determined to do the same.
As the last lock fell to the ground I exhaled and smiled. I'd only cut 5 or 6 inches off, but I felt better. I felt good. I felt happy, and in a weird way I felt free.
I felt grown up. By letting go of that hair I had let go of a lot of other things, and stopped being afraid. If it was length that had me worried before, I knew now that I'd be fine. Hair grows back and I would make sure that mine grew back healthy and natural.
I am now working at keeping all of my hair healthy while I transition. I didn't do the 'Big Chop' because I didn't think that would be best for me. I'm happy with the new hair length, and I've decided to keep it at this length while I transition. I'll cut away more of the relaxed hair every 8 weeks or so, and will track how fast the natural hair grows through. Cutting my hair was a liberating experience for me. I know a lot of girls are reluctant to do it, probably scared like me, but there's nothing to be afraid of. I can't wait for all of the relaxed hair to be gone. The thought of a full head of natural hair is what keeps me motivated any time I'm in doubt, or any time I'm tempted to crawl back to a salon for a retouch.
I think a lot of girls think they have to cut all of their hair off when they decide that they want to go natural. This simply isn't the case. If you're not ready for such a drastic change, cut it gradually like me. It's less of a shock to the system and gives you time to figure out treatments and products are going to work for you with your natural hair and those that will not. Another thing a lot of people seem to forget is that if you really do hate your hair in its natural state once you've tried it out, there is nothing stopping you from relaxing it again. Everyone is different, do what's right for you.