Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Short Hair, Don’t Care: My Big Chop Experience

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

So, this week my Editor-in Cheif wanted the writers to “try something new.” She encouraged us to write about a new topic, take a risk, and expand our creative horizons.  Now, as a writer, I generally like to stay in my box and write about the topics that make me comfortable. However, it’s not too often that I bring up new ongoings within my personal life. So I pondered what I could write about. How could I write about something new when I listen to the same five songs each day, eat the same food, go to bed at the same time, and repeat? I am the complete opposite of a risk-taker, so how dare I write about anything that falls into the category of such. Then it hit me; I recently have tried something new. I didn’t eat a new food or spend money on a risky amazon purchase, but I made a life-changing decision. The kind of life-changing decision that could either boost your confidence or stab you with a knife of regret each time you look in the mirror.  It could be the best thing you have ever done, or it could be the worst decision you’d make in your entire life. So, what was my big risk? Well, I got a nose job. No, I’m just kidding. 

About three weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk and looking in the mirror. My scalp had been itching, and I knew that I could no longer avoid wash day. For us black women, washing our hair can be a tedious task. For most people, what takes a few minutes in the shower can become an hour to even an all-day affair for sisters of color when you take shampooing, conditioning, detangling, blowdrying, product application, styling, etc. and any additional aspect into consideration. Therefore, I’m sure you could see why someone like me with hair that reached past their bra clasp wouldn’t be particularly giddy about the day.  Getting back to my story, I stared back at my head full of thick, long 3c hair with contempt. Then, I began to detangle the monstrosity of single strand knots and dryness. With each stroke of the comb and painful tug, a fallen strand of hair went and a piece of my fading patience. For months I had been unhappy with my hair.  One good look at my hair, and you’d probably wonder how I could ever dislike it so much. However, many people don’t understand the work that goes into maintaining long hair. It takes a lot of patience and time, and honestly, I had run out of both. 

For months, I had wanted to cut my hair out of the desperate desire for something fresh,  and the day had come. I was finally ready to part with my luscious mane. However, it took thirty minutes of inward battle. I knew that cutting off my hair was what I wanted, but I was worried that once it was all gone, I would like it back. I also knew that if I didn’t cut it, I would continue to be unhappy, and it would continue to go neglected because I could barely find time in my schedule to do so much as wash it. I had grown out of my hair, but I was still holding on to it; it was like keeping that one shirt or jeans you don’t wear but are afraid to give away in case you decide you want to wear them. 

After an hour of battling with my conscious,  I sucked it up and cut the first piece. Once, I looked at the clump that was suddenly detached from my head, the tears began to pour. The rest of the process was an emotional rollercoaster. I felt free and hopeful, but halfway through my anxiety was triggered. “Had I made a mistake?” I asked myself. “Maybe I should have waited.” “Elizabeth, why would you do this to yourself?” These we’re all the questions that toiled in my head. My hair and I had been through so much. Even when she got on my nerves and refused to cooperate,  she was always there for me and forgave me for the days I would go without giving her some TLC. When she fell victim to heat damage, she transitioned and came back as she had never left. She never failed to serve volume, definition, and hang time. From, the twist-outs, braid-outs, top-knot buns, half up-half downs, slick backs, pineapple ponytails, Bantu knots, mini twists, and ASAP Rocky braids – she always came through. I didn’t think that I would be able to go on without her, but somehow I managed to press on. Now, almost a month since I’ve become a member of the TWA (teeny weeny afro) community, each day I feel just as beautiful as I did when I had my long hair. 

In just these few weeks I learned so much about myself and short hair that I hadn’t known before or appreciated. The first of them is that although short hair is a great way to change up your look, it can be a true adjustment and a test of self-esteem and security that you will not see coming. Cutting my hair was no doubt what I wanted, subconsciously. A little after, it was all gone; I wasn’t as confident as I had hoped for. I uncovered that the reason why it was difficult for me to cut it off in the first place, was not because I was worried about how I would view myself, but because I was worried about how the outside world would look at me. I had entirely attached the source of my beauty to my hair. The stigma around short hair, especially for darker-toned Black women, is that it serves to masculinize us and subtracts from our physical attractiveness. Because of this, I worried that I would lose some degree of femininity and would have to work twice as hard for my beauty to be acknowledged by others. So, if this thinking is what is stopping you from cutting your hair or what is stopping you from finding Black women with short hair attractive, then don’ let it. I know that people say that “hair is a woman’s glory”; however, hair is only part of it. If you place all of your self-worth to be based on how long or how thick your hair is, then you are only setting yourself up for your confidence to be easily broken, comprehended, and risked at any time. Hair is beautiful at all lengths. Hair should be an additive to your beauty, not the determinant. True beauty starts inwardly and should radiate outward throughout your entire appearance- through your eyes, lips, mouth, nose, forehead, shape, and hair. 

Aside from the fact that how much hair you have does not lessen your attractiveness,  I had a rude awakening when I discovered that short hair is no less of a maintenance task than long hair. Yes, it is true that you won’t spend hours braiding or twisting long strands of hair and that it won’t’ take as long to wash. However, short hair does not mean less care. The case is actually that new length comes with new care and a different set of patience. Styling a TWA can come with a small set of challenges being that it is more difficult to see the strand of hair that you are attempting to detangle or moisturize. Also, it’s a bit harder to section a shorter TWA off when trying to oil your scalp because of the almost impossible ability to grip the hair into a hair tie, lead alone keep it intact with a bobby pin. Having a TWA means less hair to work with and less time spent on doing natural styles, but it also means adjustment, flexibility, and an openness to learning what works best for your hair in a short state. As with any length of hair, it is vital to not take your frustration out on your hair. Hair is like a seed that needs, water, sunlight, a good soil foundation, and a good owner to grow into a beautiful flower. Therefore, if you want your hair to grow, know that it will not grow overnight. Also, what works for everyone else’s TWA may not work for you. Hair is not cookie cutter. After I cut my hair I realized my hair was two different textures; it is 3c around the sides and back, while its 3b at the top and at the middle, so I had to figure out what works for my two-typed, short hair. Lastly, you don’t have to try every home remedy or every trendy product for your hair to grow. Rember that your hair grew organically as a child, so it’ll be able to do the same thing a second time. Perhaps in another article, I will go over some long, natural hair truths, but for short hair, these principles also apply. 

Lastly, I have to end this detailing of my experience by saying that it is a myth that short hair is not versatile. Short hair can be dyed, cut, shaped, tapered, bleached, curled, coiled, slicked, and waved in any form or fashion that you wish. The different stages of short hair each have their own special something to offer.  If blown out, short hair can work cornrows, knotless braids, twists, sew-ins, or even faux locs. Additionally, short hair makes the wig process a whole lot easier because all you have to do is brush and gel it down, slap on a wig cap, lay your wig, and boom- you’re a whole different person with suddenly long hair. Also, if braids or wigs aren’t your things and you just prefer to be all-natural, then that’s a great option too. I’m not one to always get braids, and I don’t wear wigs. Just like with long hair, society and even fellow Black women try to place short hair into a box. I remember when I decided to cut my hair it was said to me “oh so you are going to wear wigs now?”. I looked at them like they were crazy, and said, “uh, no.” I love a well-laid wig, but what I do with my natural hair is my prerogative, so if I want to wear it natural, I shall. There’s no set requirement for how hair should be worn when it’s short. If you want to wear your TWA Lupita Nyongo style, go ahead. If you want to pull a Jada Pinkett Smith, grab that razor. If you want to go classic 90s Eve or Nia Long, don’ hesitate! If you feel like wearing box braids until your hair grows out, you should. Short hair affords you as much versatility and as many options. Don’t feel like you have to stick to one certain thing because of what others say or do. Also, don’t feel that as soon as you cut your hair, you have to grow it out. You can cut it as many times as you desire. Your hair is your oyster. 

Hair is beautiful. Long, short, straight, kinky, curly, and coily hair are all equally acceptable. Do as you please with your hair, but also be sure not to restrict others or yourself within socially constructed ideas of beauty. Short hair should not be treated as taboo. Long hair, short hair, I don’t care, so why should you?

Lizzy Veal

Hampton U '24

Elizabeth Veal is a sophomore, Sociology major and Criminal Justice minor at Hampton University. She is from Baltimore, Maryland (shout out to the 410) , and recently joined HerCampus in September 2021. She is excited to make new memories with her fellow members, improve her writing skills, and become involved in all that HerCampus and Hampton University has to offer. In her spare time, she enjoys watching classic Black films, listening to R&B and old school rap. Her favorite artists are Jhene Aiko, Giveon, J Cole, and Tupac.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️