I started losing my hair in the 10th grade. It came out in chunks, and I tried just about everything to get it to stop. After some months passed, I decided to go get it cut by a natural hairstylist. I wanted it short. Like buzz cut short. I was so sick of having to deal with it. The nice lady who did it asked me a lot of questions: How was I doing in school? Did I have friends? Are you having a hard time?
Honestly, I was doing very well academically, getting straight A’s almost every semester. I didn’t have many real friends. And, yes, I was having a hard time. I was grieving my grandmother who had passed away two years prior, I was grieving friendships that were slowly dissipating, and I was tired of the burden my hair was.
“We can cut it from the hairs in the back or just a short cut. What would you like?” She asked me.
I made the mistake of looking to my mother for guidance because I already knew I wanted a low cut. My mother shook her head and told the women not to cut it too low, and the stylist had to follow her instructions because I was a minor.
Why is hair so important if it grows back? I reflect back on my mother’s rejection of the idea that I have a low cut. I look back on my past high school pictures, and my afro was so awkward and something I was constantly worried about 24/7. I started losing hair again my first year of college. I was struggling to figure out if I had picked the right college or if I should transfer. I was also struggling to make friends on such a big campus.
Eventually, I became proud of my afro. It became a testament to the struggles I endured.
But it was also a source of pain for me. It takes a lot to take care of hair like mine. It takes a lot of money to get braids, twists, wigs installed, what have you. The prices for these styles are constantly raising, what used to be $180 was now $250 and up. Some stylists even go as far as taunting those who can’t afford it. Something that used to be a service most black women could participate in, turned into a service for those with access to money to spare.
I felt like I was indoctrinated to believe that big or long hair was a part of my femininity despite me loving how others looked with short hair. I finally got to a place mentally two weeks ago where I was able to let go of these beauty standards. I went to the salon to set an appointment, and they had an opening.
She chopped the plaits out of my head and I immediately felt lighter. It was as though a lot of my tension stemmed from my hair, and it’s now gone. It was also one of the first major decisions I made about my body without running it across my mother. I felt when I made the decision, I stepped further into adulthood.
Who knows. Maybe I’ll get a tattoo next.
I want to impart some wisdom upon you collegiettes: Reflect on what will make you happy in life and do what makes you happy! This advice could apply to anything from your hair to the career you chose. Whatever you do, do it for your own happiness and peace of mind.