My Big Chop Story
After years of seriously neglecting my relaxed hair, I finally took the plunge and did the big chop back in August. I was originally going to try and transition, however dealing with two competing hair textures was just too much work. So, after yet another stressful wash day, I whipped out my scissors and cut all my relaxed hair off. Despite standing in front of my mirror and being nearly bald, I felt oddly empowered and free.
Hair is a major issue that black women face. What to do with it is always a cause of debate. Many black women have recently joined the natural train and are ditching the creamy crack for a healthier and back-to-our-roots option. The decision to go natural is one that is met with a lot of chagrin from men. Men are, for some reason, fascinated with and drawn to long hair; not that hair can provide them with anything other than aesthetic satisfaction. But the process of going natural can be difficult. When growing your hair natural, sometimes the best options is to do a big chop to get rid of all the relaxed or chemically processed hair. This can be a harrowing experience especially because we as black women are so attached to our hair. Our hair is part of who we are. Or is it? Hair is what you make it. India Arie told us that she is not her hair. When will we learn start believing that we are more than just our hair?
We have been brain washed into believing that anything closer to Caucasian is more appealing. The black women that are the most prevalent in the media are those with straightened and/or chemically treated locks and thousand dollar weaves. Changing the world’s perceptions of beauty and even our own perceptions is not an easy feat. But with time it can and will be done. So many women are rejecting the idea that they cannot wear their hair in its natural state, however kinky or Afro-centric it may be. But some women go so far as to claim that black women who do not wear their hair in its natural state are rejecting their heritage and accepting society’s expectations of beauty. Many of us already know the damaging effects of relaxers on our hair. Once I watched Chris Rock’s movie/documentary Good Hair, I was convinced that I was no longer going to relax my hair. I do have other chemicals in my hair and the main reason is because I cannot bear to part ways with my hair. Going natural would eventually require me to cut all my hair off and start over, which is hard. I may wear a weave or a wig occasionally but not because I am rejecting my black roots; personally fake hair is in a lot of ways easier to maintain than my own hair. When you’re on the go, the quickest styles are the most convenient.
At the end of the day it’s just hair and it’ll grow back. Whether we have the patience to chop it all off and start the natural journey or endure the chemicals to achieve our desired look, we all must accept the fact that we are more than just our hair. Hair is such a trivial thing that does not define us or who we are. Some say it may enhance beauty but beauty to me is something that radiates from within. If you are a good person and have inner beauty, whether you have a long ‘do or an Amber Rose buzz cut, you will exude beauty no matter what.
Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is email@example.com
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