It's Just Hair

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     In 2011, I big chopped my hair. I called myself weaving some hair in my own head. I was getting ready for our annual family trip to the Outer Banks, and I wanted hair that was cute and manageable. And y’all, I really thought that I could do my own hair. So I got all my products together and got in the mirror and proceeded to glue some tracks in. I started out okay, but by the end everything had gone off the rails. My tracks were all jacked and I had used an ignorant amount of weave glue. It was tragic. But I went on to the OBX with it and made it work.

When we got back, and I took that weave out, SO MUCH OF MY HAIR CAME OUT WITH IT. Y’all I stood in the mirror in disbelief. My head was tore up. I just burst into tears. I cried for a good 10 minutes. I mean, full on snot running down my nose and tears meeting under my chin type crying. Why? Because I knew I was going to have to cut my hair and start over. It was so patchy and bald in some spots. There was no way to salvage it. And as I stood there crying, with the scissors in my hand, all I could think was, “I’m not going to be feminine anymore.” That thought made me cry even harder. In my mind, I was going to look like a man with a big ole bald watermelon head. And I have a big face too so that was gonna be doubly bad. How was I going to look girly and attractive and feminine ever again?! I cried some more.

After about 20 minutes of hysterics I raised those scissors to my head and just hacked it all off. And then I went to the barbershop and had my husband’s barber shape it all up for me. (Shout out to Clevon Bradley of Kut Kreators in Rock Hill, SC). I remember walking in the barber shop with a hat on. Clevon looked at me and said, “Aw hell. What did you do?” I didn’t answer. I just plopped down in his chair and took the hat off. His next question was, “Has Jene (my husband) seen you?” I just said nope, and wiped more tears. He shook his head and fussed and threatened to whoop me and he proceeded to clean up my chop job. So that night when hubby saw me, he was not happy. He just stared at me and said, “Babe, what did you do?” That produced more tears. I managed to tell him how it was damaged and there was weave glue, and so forth. He hugged me and palmed my head. I cried some more. I felt so ugly and unattractive. How could I be feminine with a bald head?!!

Months went by and my hair started to grow. The peach fuzz turned into an actual TWA. And to my surprise it was actually cute. What shocked me even more is that I actually liked it. I would put on a skinny headband and slick down my baby hairs, throw on some makeup and some big ole hoop earrings and keep it moving. I would look in the mirror and be like, Yes girl! Come thru with the TWA! I actually felt more feminine with my little afro. I didn’t have any hair to hide behind anymore. I always covered my big forehead with a bang but not anymore. My big old face and big forehead and freckles were on full display for everyone to see.

Having to cut my hair forced me to address a lot of self-esteem issues, with the main one being, “You’re not a lady if you don’t have a lot of long, flowing hair on your head.” And I guess that’s a lesson I picked up in life. And for a long time I lived it, embraced it, wore it. I truly BELIEVED that I needed hair to FEEL like a woman. But damaging mine forced me to fall back on things of substance like my personality, my beliefs, how I treated people, how I handled stress, and so on. It forced me to see my inner self, and find that pretty girl in there, and find out who I really was. I was still a woman. I still made passionate love to my husband. My womb had carried two babies to term and pushed them both out and safely into the world. I had nursed them at my breast. I could still nurture them and my hubby. I was still a daughter and a sister. I was STILL a woman, short hair and all.

So now, 6 years later, I’m still natural. I don’t have a huge head of hair. I’ve cut it several more times in the past 6 years. I have a nice blonde afro though. And I’m okay with that. In the winter I wear protective styles and in the summer I wear my natural hair. I love how I can just throw it into a neat puff and go. Or clip the sides back and make a nice Mohawk. I like how my short hair shows off the tattoos on my collarbone and the one between my shoulders. I like how easy it is to wear scarves because I don’t have to move any hair out of the way. I don’t really need an umbrella when it rains. Water is a friend to my coils. I can throw a hat on and not worry about messing up my ‘do. I think my hair is pretty and fun and functional.

I really had to learn that I am not my hair. That may sound shallow and vain, but it’s my truth. Having to cut my hair shook me to my hair and it made me regroup and gather myself. I wouldn’t have learned that without a bad experience. So, shout out to weave glue for leading me into a life-changing moment. And shout out to the person I found on the other side. She ain’t too shabby. So ladies, if any of you are thinking about cutting off your hair, whether by force or by choice, I say go for it. It’ll grow back. You will still be a woman. You will still be lovely. You will still be fierce. Because after all, it’s just hair.

L. Thompson