"Eight months ago, I without regret cut off a length of relaxed hair that reached the bottom of my back. Had I done the act a year prior, I would have been devastated and emotionally torn. You see, only a year before, I was unhealthily obsessed and attached to the length of my hair, my mind always in a state of, “Grow, grow, grow, I can never let this go,” and so at the time, the thought of cutting any length off of my hair coincided with the disfigurement of my self-image. I longed to be as attractive as our Latin, Asian, and European counterparts, believing that long, loose flowing hair that you could straighten, curl, make wavy, and style endlessly, was simply the way to be if one wanted to be perceived as beautiful. This is why I relaxed in the first place. No one I knew wore cornrows and thick plaits as I did daily, and so I felt out of the norm, and hopelessly unappealing. The day I relaxed, I felt I had found the cure.
Fast forward to a time of being at the height of my love affair with long hair, I every so often questioned my authentic self. There were many days where I felt that my reflection in the mirror did not reflect who I was, or who I was meant to be. On and off I wondered what a head of my natural hair would look like on me. “It would look right,” I would think to myself. It would feel right, too. Still, my immediate response to the idea of going natural was, “Lose all of this hair? Hah! Never.” Confusingly, I yearned to be as me as I could be, yet I could not bring myself to go against the perceived standards of beauty, even when the active ingredient in relaxers sometimes left my scalp chemically burned to the severity of bleeding. “All in the name of beauty…,” I defended.
Unexpectedly, the chains of emotional attachment to my hair began to loosen as long hair became a nuisance to handle. I grew tired of the lifeless length, fussy hair days, and sick of the way it felt simply laying against my neck, shoulders, and back. During this time, I’d become obsessed with thoughts of going natural, and while I still could not bring myself to the idea of big chopping, I certainly was ready to at least chop of half the length of my hair. I resolved to a plan of long-term transitioning to ease the pain of change. This transition lasted a grand total of four months, yielding about an inch or two of natural hair growth.
The day suddenly came when I realized my fears held no ground, and I was simply too anxious and ready to rid myself of my relaxed hair and welcome my own. I cut it off, and something instantly within me became free. I feel a different kind of beauty, one deeper-rooted and defined by my own criteria, no one else’s. What is mine is mine now – to have, to hold, to love and to take care of.
Going natural has become a most rewarding experience, and I personally understand that just as you cannot tell a depressed person to cheer up, or an anxious person to calm down, you cannot push one to big chop, or help someone accept losing their hair by exclaiming, “It’s just hair!” There are always underlying and hindering fears, insecurities, emotions, and experiences to be acknowledged, analyzed, challenged, and peacefully resolved.
We are all born with the bravery and courage it takes to make change and face the things we fear; only it takes more time for some than others for that strength to be summoned. And believe me, sooner or later, that time always comes. If you want to big chop but do not feel that you are ready to, then don’t do it. If you feel like you need to read a few more blogs, hear a few more experiences, or watch a few more videos for encouragement and inspiration, then by all means do so. Give yourself the time you need and deserve to make your decision and take action, and all the while take comfort in knowing that everyone’s time comes, and if something is meant to be, it will be. By the same token, don’t run away from the idea and don’t fear or avoid making the decision, because it will always return and it will always press harder. What you truly want at heart is already yours, so be confident and do not fear – happiness is always yours in the end!" ~ Rachel