“I see you’ve had your little Waiting to Exhale moment.” That was the comment my sorority sister made when she saw me with my haircut for the first time.
The thick, kinky-curly locks that went past my shoulders had been sheared off in favor of a much shorter tapered look. . I wondered if she really thought that my new ‘do was man-inspired. I didn’t blame her.
It’s common for a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend or husband to cut off nearly all her hair like Bernadette did in Waiting to Exhale. But me? I’d been single for quite some time. I just wanted the ‘fro gone because it was too much work! Or so I thought. It wasn’t until many months later I realized that deep down, I’d wanted a break from the past, too. And I got much more than that.
I didn’t expect to undergo the mental transformation that I did
After my haircut, I questioned myself in ways I hadn’t since high school. Am I beautiful without long hair? I wondered. Did the self-esteem I’d spent over 23 years building really shatter in an hour’s worth of hair cutting? Sure, I found pride in the numerous compliments my bold curls would garner, but I never saw myself as attached to my hair. Frankly, I’d hated my hair, not because I didn’t think it was beautiful, but because it took entirely too long to style.
I thought the freedom to wake up and go for once would cancel out any reservations I’d have about the new cut. Having an edgy cut would be more fun and unique; no longer would I blend in among the sea of afros. I knew I’d absolutely love it. However, it took me quite a while to get used to being “near bald-headed.” Sometimes I’d even wake up, look in the mirror, and go in shock over what I’d done.
I felt freer, lighter and not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense because I had more room to just focus on me, the real me, sans luscious locks, which brings me to my next point Men love long hair. That’s no secret. Here’s a secret: so do you. It’s not your fault. Society conditions men and women to go heart eyes over long, flowing hair. It’s the standard of beauty. Most of us won’t realize how deep-seated this love for long hair is. A lot of us will even deny this internalized European standard of beauty, claiming that we love ourselves regardless of if our hair is two or twenty-two inches long.
“I am not my hair,” we will say
And then we shear off our beloved hair and later that night, gawk in disbelief at our reflection as ridiculous worries seep out: Will my hair ever grow back? Am I still attractive to men? Is my curl-free, short, natural hair beautiful? Am I still beautiful? Questioning your beauty makes you question your inner self. Maybe you had a good grasp of who you were before, but now you must reconfigure yourself as someone who is able to find her beauty with or without long hair.
Cut off your hair and see. Because not only will you gain this clearer picture of yourself, but you’ll gain a newfound strength and confidence in your femininity. And that’s not even the best benefit. It’s a peculiar feeling to watch your hair float to the floor, and then study it as it decorates the tiling, while coming to the sobering realization that it’s no longer connected to your head. I am now a bald headed, you think.
We talk about cutting off people and things every New Year It’s easy to delete a phone number or throw away those brownies (mostly), but how easy is it to cut off the memory of the one you love telling you it’s over or the deep-rooted self-hatred that drove you into the image of a text message with words that disrupt your entire world or the echo of your family members’ voices saying you’ll never be any good? Now imagine it being as easy as a snip!
This Article Was First Published on xonecole.com