I will never forget my big chop. It was impulsive; I couldn’t wait to get to the nearest mall to have my permed hair removed forever.
The short kinks that graced my head were nothing like I naively imagined they would be.
I will never forget my big chop. It was impulsive; I couldn’t wait to get to the nearest mall to have my permed hair removed forever. I imagined the wavy curls and locks that would serve as my crown from that point on. But all the excitement quickly dissolved once the stylist handed me the mirror, mortification took its place. It was in that moment that I realized just how well society had done its job, socialized so deeply that even my body felt the “wrongness” of my decision.
I think that my willingness to go natural was supported by the fact that my mother sports a long wavy mane without the help of chemicals. Though I walked around stating that I was ready to embrace my true identity, to embrace the true me, I think I had hoped for a me that still fell into one of society’s still acceptable categories. Holding that mirror I was introduced to myself, my insecure, superficial self. It showed me just how much my self- esteem was predicated on acceptance. How something so superficial weighed so much. That mirror showed me where I was and where I needed to be.
My first hair lesson was: compensate, compensate, compensate. Earrings, headbands, makeup. But after a while I let it go, I let my hair be. It gave me the strength to not care what others, those others who don’t care about me otherwise, thought of me. If it wasn’t for built in stubbornness, a drive to do what others said I couldn’t, I don’t think I would have made it.
I am so glad I didn’t cave in. Not only have I learned to base self esteem on something real, like my personality, my faith in God, my true talents, etc. but I have also learned to love my hair, unaltered in any way.
My hair has taught me how hard autonomy is to come by in a world that gives you its values so subtly and secretly, and that once you achieve autonomy, you should value it. It showed me how the world responds when you chose a path that’s resisted. It taught me to fall in love with myself, my true self, and not the “me” that society describes me as or marks as acceptable.