My big chop went down on February 22, 2012 in the dorm room of one of my best friends. I knew very early on that my hair was tightly coiled, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I have some INTENSE shrinkage. Like…a lot.
As my hair grew longer, my fro did grow in volume, but I had felt that for the past few months, I had reached a plateau. My fro, Nala as I have affectionately named her, seemed to be growing thicker and thicker, rather than longer. I couldn’t figure out what it was so I figured it was my hair trying to get used to this new dirty and humid New York environment. Although my hair did have to readjust to the water and humidity of a new city, there was something more. Why is my hair so lack luster, why am I hating my once beloved fro?
Many natural haired girls get caught up in the beautiful bouncy 3b/c fro’s that flood Instagram and YouTube, and long for the day in which their hair will reach that point. But understanding your hair type and setting realistic goals for yourself is one of the most important aspects of your natural hair journey.
Of course I love big voluminous hair, but it was important for me to not feel ugly because of my shrinkage. My wash days were planned specifically so that I could wash my hair and not have to leave my house the next day. That was a problem for me.
As a black woman, I feel it’s instilled in us to take pride in our mane. For me to have gone through such a long natural hair journey, and over 4 years later still feeling “ugly” opened my eyes to a much deeper psychologically embedded issue. Why does long hair = beautiful hair? Why do looser curls correlate with more beautiful curls? Why do I care if my hair doesn’t appear to be “long”?
This past weekend was the first time I went out confidently with my hair freshly washed and not manipulated. The experience was…liberating to day the least.
After washing, deep conditioning, trimming and moisturizing Nala, I stood in the mirror and took some time to truly examine her. Each corkscrew curl and coil. What did I notice?
- Each strand was healthy, shiny, and moisturized
- As I examined, I watched her begin to shrink in a matter of minutes.
I managed to get in a cute Snapchat, tossing my fro back and forth, but that quickly came to an end when coils retreated tightly towards my head. But for once, I wasn’t upset. My hair was healthy and that’s all I really wanted right?
(Don’t mind the extraness, I was jamin’ out to Me Too by Meghan Trainor)
Then I decided to do a length check, something I rarely do and noticed my hair had grown significantly since the last time I did one. That’s when I realized, my hair hasn’t plateaued, it has just begin to shrink more.
At that moment I began to look at shrinkage as a part of loving my hair. There are many reasons I went natural, but the goal was to love myself and feel beautiful in whole without any need to manipulate my appearance. I wanted to be able to feel confident, beautiful, and sexy as I am naturally. This past weekend, I realized that a decision, not a hair length, is the only thing that could make that happen.
So whether I look like I’ve big chopped last near, or nearly 5 years ago, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the health of my hair, and rocking it with full confidence.