Cutting Off My Hair

Cutting Off My Hair

For those who may confused about what exactly a “big chop” is, it is a popular term in the African-American natural hair community that refers to cutting all the relaxed ends off from your hair which may mean cutting a significant amount of hair off. As you can imagine, this can be a traumatic experience especially for African-American women who are extremely attached to their hair. Psychologically, it is a process that can take months or even years to prepare for. Some women opt to transition, or slowly grow out their roots and gradually trim the relaxed ends off so that they do not have to drastically lose a large amount of hair.

I have never been one to be afraid to cut off my hair. My first huge cut was in the 8th grade when I went from above shoulder-length hair to a super short bob with layers and a shaved kitchen. Think a mid-90’s Rihanna. Then in the 12th grade I cut my shoulder-length hair again to a cute bob that fell to mid-ear. From then until 2007 I never hesitated to go to the salon and get liberal trims. I was never attached to length because my hair grows relatively fast and knew it would grow back. The last major cut before my big chop was in 2007 when I dyed my shoulder-length hair (it never grew to longer than that probably due to damage from relaxers) blonde and cut it to just below my ear.

So when I became so frustrated with my hair right before I was supposed to leave for Minnesota for an internship, I really wasn’t too nervous about going to do my big chop. My hair story is here. I only grew out three months worth of roots which was not that much so I already knew that this would be a drastic move. Like I would literally have NO hair, maybe half an inch’s worth. I had no reservations, not even about what my long-time boyfriend who had never seen me with unrelaxed super short hair would think. Or what my graduate school professors and classmates would think, or my supervisors and co-workers at my graduate assistantship would think. Going natural was something that I had been thinking about for a while and I was doing this for me and no one else. Here’s how drastic of a cut it was:

My length after the "double coloring" a few months before the big chop.
The day I cut it all off.

So I did it. And I LOVED it. I’d never done something so liberating, so free in my entire life. Something changed in me that day. If I could cut off all my hair and walk the streets of Philadelphia like I WAS that bitch, I could do anything. When women are contemplating going natural I advocate for the big chop. I like to think of it like ripping off a band-aid or jumping in a cold pool. Just get it over with.

I had mixed reactions to my hair. My grandparents did not like it at all and made it known. I had an inkling my brother didn’t like it but it seemed like he was gradually coming around to it. My boyfriend loved it and so did my co-workers. When I returned to school in September I would be debuting my short hair to my professors and classmates for the first time and I had the fleeting idea that they would think I had gone crazy. But that wasn’t the case at all and they loved it as well.

I will probably big chop again someday but for the foreseeable future I would like to grow out my hair. I am very impressed with my growth thus far and would like to see how long it can get.

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