Last May, I had to cut off all of my hair. I had heat damage. The entire front of my head was frazzled, seared, fried… whatever you want to call it. It was bad. I had gotten a sew-in in Florida before moving to Guam. I argued with the hairstylist for a while, because I didn’t want leave out. I told her Guam was way more humid than Florida and I didn’t want to flat iron my hair every day.
My hair shrinks up if there’s a whisper of water 200 miles away. The stylist talked me out of what I already knew, and did the leave out. Fast forward to removing the weave a month or so later… you have the picture above. Limp straight hair that was falling out by the bushel.
I tried everything. Protective styles. Deep conditioners. Mayonnaise. Eggs. Protein shakes. Hair vitamins. Olaplex. Prayer. A seance. Burning sage. Just kidding on the last three. But nothing worked. The hair couldn’t be saved.
I have to say, cutting off all my hair was a huge blow to my self-confidence. YUGE. I hated it. I hated everything about it.
I’m a girlie girl. I don’t know when I made the transition from tomboy to girlie girl, but it happened. I don’t ever want to go back. I think it started when I was a teenager, because all of a sudden all my friends started looking like women and I was just this goofy lanky kid. My friends were going on dates and in relationships. I was never considered “dateable”. I wanted to be perceived as womanly, not “one of the guys”. That’s a phrase I’ve tried to shake my entire life. Nothing makes a chick feel less confident than hearing, “No way, she’s like my brother.” Yep. I’ve been family-zoned many times. It sucked.
The days following my Big Chop, I felt so manly and was so upset about my appearance. I don’t have a super curvy body, and I’m packing some pretty broad shoulders, so I felt like I just looked like a dude wearing dresses. I wasn’t confident enough to carry myself proudly with my cut and I sulked through growing it out for months. I got depressed about it and never wanted to go anywhere. My fiancé did his best to say I looked great and pretty, but I wasn’t hearing it.
I avoided mirrors. I never took selfies. I didn’t want to take any pictures when we went traveling. I started making the face pictures below if I did take a picture, because I figured if I looked goofy, I wouldn’t feel as unattractive. It didn’t work. I just felt worse. I felt bad about myself for months. My low self-confidence bled into absolutely everything.
If I could talk to myself right after the cut, I’d tell myself to cheer up and embrace it. Try not to be so self-conscious. Try different things like head wraps and bandeaus. I would also say to stop comparing myself to the girls on Instagram and Pinterest. First of all they’re taking professional quality pictures, with makeup, great lighting, and filters or other photo manipulation. It’s unrealistic to expect to look like a supermodel when I’m just average everyday me.
My big chop was actually a blessing for my hair, although my self-confidence took a hit. This is the most healthy growth I have ever had, because my hair had the opportunity to start over! No split ends. No heat! Just happy healthy curls! I was amazed at how quickly the new growth seemed to shoot out of my head. In a year and some change, my scalp pushed out 7.5 healthy inches of hair. That would have been impossible if I held on to my damaged length.
In cutting off my hair, I had to learn to love my curls and separate my self-worth from my looks. Yeah, being beautiful is cool and all, but even that’s temporary. There are more important things; being a good partner, being a good friend, and setting goals and achieving them. Those are the things that should make us feel beautiful and worthy.
Another lesson learned?
Don’t let a hairstylist (or anyone!) talk you into doing anything you don’t want to do.