If we're being honest, I thought I was going to cry when I shaved all my hair off. I remember, a couple of nights before the deed was done, I texted my stylist asking if he could fit me in sooner before I chickened out. I knew it was time. I had gotten tired of fighting and fussing with it every day and battling the Florida humidity.
However, it wasn’t just about this daily struggle. It was also about an image I was trying to maintain. I wanted to be appealing to the male gaze. So, before moving on I’m just going to address what we’re all thinking. I like women, so why should I care? Well here’s the thing, beauty standards are aggressively influenced by, get this, cis hetero men. Women aren’t exempt from falling into wanting what these men have prescribed as beautiful.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to where I was going with this. I knew that I would be battling a shallow stigma against short hair, but I needed to do this. I can’t fully explain it but to quote Hayley Williams in her recent piece about her own hair transformation, “There’s got to be a way to get to know the person I am now.”
My longer processed hair didn’t suit me anymore. For as long as I can remember I had been straightening my hair to fit a beauty standard that is unkind to black women. I wanted to break away from that. The person I am now doesn’t have time to exist for the pleasure of others.
The big chop was liberating. I feel like I fit into my own skin. I think we underestimate how important hair can be when it comes to self-expression. You can tell so much about a person from the way they choose to wear their hair. Are they conservative? Are they wild? I hope that when people look at me, I hope they see me as “free”.
(If you have a moment, please do read the pieces I've linked to in this essay.)