I Am Not My Hair



                                                Photo courtesy of the author 


For as long as I can remember, my hair has been one of my biggest insecurities. Growing up as an African American girl in a predominantly white area, I saw my hair as a burden. It was difficult having hair that was different from the girls around me. Relaxers were my best friend, and for 10 years, that’s how it stayed. Until one day, I woke up and decided enough was enough. I decided to make the transition to natural hair, but little did I know, not only was it going to be a physical change, but a mental one as well.


I went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to go through with cutting all of my hair off (the big chop), or just let my hair transition on its own by growing out the chemicals. My entire life I was told that “hair is your beauty” so the thought of having it almost completely shaved off scared me. When you have long hair, it’s easy to hide behind it when you’re not feeling pretty. However, with shorter hair, everything is exposed, suddenly, there is nothing to hide behind. My confidence level wasn’t strong enough to face that reality, so I decided to only cut a minimal amount of my hair off.


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As I booked my hair appointment with my usual stylist, I was apprehensive. She didn’t specialize in natural hair and 9/10 times I leave the appointment disappointed in my hair because it’s not what I originally envisioned. After sitting in the salon for three hours, I left hating my hair. I didn’t feel confident, and it was discouraging. However, because I still had most of my hair left, I could hide behind a protective style and move on. But that did not change how I felt about myself, and I was still frustrated that I was unable to feel comfortable with my own hair.                    Photos courtesy of the author 


 A week later I made the decision to cut my hair even more than I did the first time. However, instead of going to a stylist, I decided to have a friend do it. I trust her with my life, so my hair was no different. It was extremely shorter than it was before, and I liked it a little bit better. However, I still didn’t love it. I tried to embrace it at the gym the next morning, but still I felt uncomfortable, and the style wasn’t for me. 



                                                     Photo courtesy of the author   

As I voiced my frustration to my friend, she looked at me and said, “why don’t you just shave it?” That got me thinking, if I was going to commit to completely getting all of the chemicals out of my hair, shaving it at this point was the best option. Was I still scared? Of course, but at that point, I was so defeated, I decided to go through with it and made an appointment at a local barbershop. As I’m sitting in the chair, waiting to get my hair cut for the third time, I felt nervous, but I was also content. I was ready to let go of the little bit of my hair and start completely fresh. When I left the barbershop with most of my hair shaved off, I felt more empowered than I’ve ever felt in my life. It was a magical moment. Yes, I had nothing to hide behind anymore, but that’s what I loved about my new haircut. I could see my face, and all of the other non-physical attributes about myself, that made me beautiful. Suddenly, I came to the realization that my hair was not what made me beautiful. It was what was stored away within me, that radiated beauty.



                                           Photo Courtesy of the author

At first, I was exasperated at the total amount of money I spent on my hair within those past three weeks. However, I was glad I cut it in stages, that’s exactly how it was supposed to happen. Throughout my journey, I slowly learned how important self-love was outside of my physical features. There were lots of people around me who were not supportive of my decision to go through with the “big chop”. At first, it hurt and discouraged me, until I realized that those people were not living in my body. They didn’t understand how insecure my hair made me. I knew I needed to go through with cutting off all of my hair in order to grow. I needed to come to the realization that I am not my hair and my hair is not me.


                                                     Photo courtesy of the author 

To all of the ladies out there who are struggling with looking past their physical attributes, start looking within. Your beauty, confidence, and power does not come from what you look like on the outside! Don’t let society or those around you dictate how you feel about yourself. If there is any time to make bold choices and embrace who we are and who we’re becoming, it is in college. You are not your hair, and your hair is not you!




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