A few weeks ago, the world was abuzz with the news that actress Sanaa Lathan shaved her head for her new role in the movie Nappily Ever After. She nonchanlantly showed off her transformation on Instagram by spinning and rubbing her shaved head (making it clear from the jump to the naysayers that it was for real). I think I watched her video five times in shock and pure adoration. And it got me thinking — every black girl should experience that liberating feeling of chopping off her hair at least once in her lifetime.
In my 30 years of life, I've experienced two big hair chops! Yes, TWO! And although neither were to go completely bald but rather very short, it was one of the best things I could have done for myself both times. And if you're a black girl, here are all the reasons you should consider taking the plunge one day, too.
I am not my hair
India Arie said it best. We are NOT our hair. But sometimes it's hard to know that when we're brainwashed by the media to think that having lots of it is the only true sign of beauty. I remembered always wanting my hair in braids as a kid (and pressed in my teen years) because it gave the appearance that my hair flowed thicker and longer.
And having such rhetoric ingrained in my beliefs at such a young age made it hard for me to separate my outer (and inner) beauty from the very physical crown on my head. And although it was indeed my glory, it wasn't until my first big chop around the age of 16 that I realized that other people heavily equated my outer beauty with my hair as well. So I cut my bra length hair into an ear-length bob (on a good day) and people almost took it personally. I definitely got some dirty looks from extended family.
But it was in these moments — and in the subsequent months to come as it grew back — that my esteem grew. Because I was STILL me, still confident and still beautiful, despite the length of my hair. And the haters eventually fell in line.
It's downright liberating
The second time I chopped my hair was shortly after my daughter was born. My hormones were all out of wack, and although I hadn't lost too much hair during pregnancy, I was putting so much heat on it during those months that my natural curl became so relaxed it was almost unrecognizable. This was when I decided to go natural. And I became committed to learning how to properly care for my hair. Thank you, Tamera Mowry-Housely for serving up so much big-chopspiration during that time via your Instagram. And the dead inches came off again in my mother-in-law's garage.
And I have to say, as a new mom, it was everything I needed to save time on myself in the mornings and it was liberating to not have to worry about styling it much. For a while, it was the true definition of wash & go! I was saving time and money during a time when I needed lots of both. And I could easily see how being team #ShortHairDontCare in college would have done the same.
It's scary as hell
I'm not going to lie — right, wrong or indifferent, it's a scary thing to chop off all the hair you've ever known. And the fact that most women would rather walk around with long dead hair than allow their stylist to clip their ends is proof that being without luscious long hair is a legit fear. But I'm here to tell you that sometimes doing scary or brave things in life is necessary. It wakes you up, recharges you and opens your eyes. And conquering this fear is no different than daring to get a tattoo, except you will one day go back to looking the same, if not better.
It's an opportunity to see who you REALLY are
Too many of us have no idea how our hair looks as it grows out of our heads because we can't remember a time it was untouched by heat, perms or color. And sometimes your crop just needs a real-life clean slate to settle into its natural curl pattern. Sure, clipping and trimming here and there will help it grow healthier on its own. But if you've done some real damage or just want a change, making the fearless decision to do a big chop and get rid of the dead weight once and for all tends to allow it to grow even faster. Not to mention, its the easiest way to see it growing in length from month-to-month.
No doubt, there might have been some awkward phases during my two big chop journeys. I have the pictures to prove it. But all-in-all, I'm so grateful I was crazy enough to want to know what life was like without long hair. It's brought me two incredibly big steps further toward knowing who I truly am and loving myself at every hair length.