July marks my 4 year anniversary of the big chop! I can't believe that it's already been 4 years! When I put those scissors in my hand and decided to chop all my hair off, I had no idea that I would be embarking on such a special journey with myself. I've learned so much and connected with people that I probably wouldn't ordinarily talk to. It isn't just about hair, it's a whole lifestyle change. I've embraced it and have fell in love with the new me as a result of it. Along the way, I've learned so many things. I thought that I'd share them with you. Some natural Fabs can probably relate and some relaxed Fabs who may be thinking about going natural can get some insight on what they could expect when going natural. Here it goes...
I remember the first month of me doing the big chop and flaunting my TWA (teeny weeny afro). Every time that I saw someone for the first time since the chop, it was always a little weird with seeing the reaction on their face. Some people loved it, some people pretended to love it (yes, we can tell) and some people would act like they didn't notice that anything changed at all. In my experience, no one ever told me that they didn't like it which made it much easier on my ego. The most awkward moments were experienced at work. Being professional and looking great at work has always been something that I hold to a high standard. I've always taken pride into how I look and dress. Going from wearing extensions/wigs to barely no hair at all was a huge adjustment for me. "How will I be viewed?" "Will they think that I'm being a rebel?" "Will they feel differently about me representing the organization?," I thought. No one ever really made me feel like I would be treated differently but those were just the thoughts that were in my head. But you know what??...Everyone embraced it, loved it, complimented me and I even got a promotion! (Not as a result of my hair but it made it realize that my hair didn't matter). "I am NOT my hair." Those words truly spoke to my heart at the very beginning of my journey.
I'm ashamed to say that one of the very main reasons why I did not want to go natural was because I was so worried that men wouldn't find me attractive anymore. I thought, "How could I compete with all these other women with hair flowing down their backs, while I'm sitting over here bald?" The first day after I decided to trash my wig and show my cut, the guy that I was dating at the time came over my apartment. I didn't say anything about my cut and EVEN HID BEHIND THE DOOR WHEN HE WALKED IN!! Lol. When the door closed, I just stood there looking like a deer in headlights waiting to see his honest reaction. He looked at me and just non-chalantly said "Oh, you cut your hair." I instantly felt silly for making such a big deal about it. He treated me the same as before and I was pleasantly surprised. Beyond that interaction, it still took me some time to "own my look" when I would see men looking at me in public. As a few weeks went by, I began to form the mind-set of "If he doesn't like my natural hair-cut and find me beautiful, then he just isn't meant for me." That's helped me with not only embracing my hair but also my complexion, body type, having a child, etc. What I've found with the dating scene and being natural is that the men will always be there girl! Ain't no need to worry about that! Fabs, it's important to always un-apologetically be who you are! Trust me, the people who love you and actually matter in your life will respect that. That's all the matters anyway.
Re-defining What's Beautiful
We are all born into a world that defines what's beautiful for us before we can even begin talking. The person that I saw in the mirror post big chop was not the typical form of beauty that I've been exposed to all my life. It's a harsh reality but its true. That's one of the reasons why women of African descent are so afraid to go natural. Our hair isn't typically referred to as beautiful especially by people of our own culture. I had to do a hard reset on my view of what's beautiful. I started following several natural hair Instagram accounts and watching YouTube channels. They frequently post pictures and videos of women who looked like me and they all looked so confident, strong and beautiful, like a queen. By looking at those pictures everyday, it made me feel more confident in myself. I was beautiful just like those women because I learned to embrace my own beauty and fall in love with how God made me.
Getting to Know My Hair
Having my hair relaxed for 20+ years, I had no idea what to do with this newly textured kinky, curly hair. Going from straight to kinky hair is a major adjustment. I had to do research, watch tons of natural hair tutorials and experiment with my hair. Even after 4 years, my hair still changes. A product that once was a staple and worked great for me, doesn't anymore. It's ever-changing. And don't EVEN let me get started on watching these natural hair tutorials. It's a miracle if your hair turns out looking half-way like what you watched on the video. That's because everyone's hair is different. Which is why it's important to not get frustrated with your hair because it doesn't look like the next girl's. Pay attention to your hair and take time to keep your hair healthy. I must admit that I've spent countless hours on my hair but the reward is feeling proud that you did your own hair and getting compliments on how beautiful YOUR hair looks, not the Brazilian bundles that grew out of someone else's scalp (no shade!).
I could really go on and on about the many different things that I've learned but this is a blog not a novel! Lol. There will be plenty more posts in the future that will discuss the topic of natural hair. I hope you enjoyed my honesty.