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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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I mean really, who wouldn’t want to hate us. We’re bold, beautiful and walk around with an “S” on our chest. But has our confident language and lioness manes produced an unwritten, yet very visible “No Trespassing” sign outside our lavish community gates?
Many times when you are in the “in” crowd you can’t see any harm in what you’re doing.
You go through the day hanging out with your friends and label the motives of those against you with one word “HATERS.” We figure “you hate me cause you ain’t me.” The question is: Is the natural hair community any different?
We are the current “cool” kids in the Black online community. Us along with the celebrity gossip/fashion sites. The difference being our community is soley built on top of a foundation of love — the love of natural hair, the love of spreading knowledge and for many of us the newly found self-love. Yet, in this on and off-line community of organic love some people don’t feel welcome and you know who I’m talking about. The relaxed sista. She just can’t seem to feel relaxed in some of our presence. She feels that we have created a community that speaks down to the personal choice they have made to wear their hair straight.
I remember being in middle school and writing a poem about black love. All the white kids started calling me racist and I couldn’t understand why. Because I believed back then as I believe today that preaching black love is not simultaneous to preaching white hate. And I believe this principle can be carried over into the natural black hair community. Preaching natural hair love is not preaching relaxed hair hate.
But how do we explain this to our relaxed hair sista, because its imperative that she be informed.
For years we have read in magazines and people have published numerous books about the hating community of Black women. They claimed we beat each other up with our insensitive words and “what the hell she starring at” eye language. But here in 2010 the natural hair community stands as a force rivaling these beliefs. On and offline we are calling each other beautiful. We are embracing our “natural hair.” We are building a community so strong and large that Big Brother himself has to take a gander at his reflection before trying to barge in and market us his products.
We have a good thing going here and we should let our relaxed sisters in on it. We can’t let them think we are putting them down for being in the same situation we were in a couple of years, months or days ago. So how do we do it? How do we allow all of our sistas to feel welcomed into this community of love? How do we invite them to partake in our conversations about the power of hair, because they have a voice too?
Do you think we should even care? Or just carry on as we were because we didn’t mean any harm?
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Everyone wants hair that looks as good as a celebrity’s. So we went to Pantene celebrity stylist Chuck Amos, whose clients have included Mya, Brandy and Vanessa Williams , and we talked to Bridget Hill, a Peter Coppola colorist recently named by Allure magazine as one of New York’s best, to dish about what styles the hottest stars are rockin’ and how you can get them. What’s Hot Now?
“Hair is hot right now,” says Amos. “And lots of it!” Amos suggests wearing hair big this season. Take notes from Beyoncé, who is doing things big these days – especially with her hair. From award show appearances to her sexy “Deja Vu” video, the Grammy Award-nominated songstress is donning big, wavy, beautiful curls. To create the look, try pumping up your hair (or extensions) with large hot rollers or a large barrel curling iron just before you wash your hair. “Dirty” hair is your best friend when going for the wild look, experts say. After curling hair, flip your head upside down and scrunch the roots of your hair with a dab of volumizing gel. Then apply a small amount of pomade to your ends so your hair won’t look dull or dry. Spritz with a small amount of holding spray and then go rock the party. Oh, but be sure to wash everything out the following morning or you’ll have a matted mess to deal with.