~Originally written for Au'Naturally You LLC~
It’s two o’ clock in the morning on a weeknight and here you are in your bathroom, pitifully yet relentlessly trying to style your hair with your flat iron and/or curling iron. Your arms hurt and you are ready to go to bed, but you just can’t go out looking like that tomorrow. After many failed attempts to find a style that looks presentable, you resolve that hair just isn’t for you at this point in life. You decide that you don’t need hair and you’ll cut it off. You take those old craft scissors to your head and clip away; you are left with a mess.
At least this is how it happened for me. It was February of 2009 and I was fifteen years old; I would have never known that this emotionally charged hair cut would make the next six years of my life one of the hardest journeys I have ever endured.
Why Big Chop?
Many naturalistas big chop because the agony of having to style (at least) two different textures of hair every day for a long period of time is far more emotionally taxing than the occasional fluctuations in confidence caused by a big chop. Once we get that whiff of confidence, we are ready to go full force back to our roots; it is a huge leap of faith but it is liberation like you've never felt before. Coco Chanel said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life”, and I would say that this statement is irrefutably true. 6 years and two big chops later, I can tell you that each time has been solidification of a new dimension in my life. Big chopping is like going cold turkey; just commit to it and do it and you can never go back again (well of course you could, but the point is not to). To big chop is to start fresh; cutting off all dead and damaged hair and moving forward with fresh hair that you get to tend and nurture with a new-found desire. How wonderful that sounds; something that was damaged and dying, I get the opportunity to start fresh and make it better? Why not big chop?
I’ll tell you why.
"My significant other won’t like it." Absolutely true! My significant other, my mother, my church family, my friends, my sister, no one liked it at first and I got teased at school. “Girls don’t cut their hair, boys do” says society; so when I cut my hair, I faced a lot of heat. Be prepared for the naysayers, stay strong, and remember why you did it in the first place. People will ask why you did it, people will say they don’t like it, people will ask you to grow it back; those people aren’t staring back at you in the mirror so their opinion doesn't count. Another reason people don’t big chop is because “I will look ugly with short hair”, honestly, I think any hairstyle can grow on you if you give it time. But, big chop and get braids if need be, the point is to cut off damaged hair. You don’t have to rock your Teeny Weeny Afro (henceforth referred to as twa) if that isn’t something you are interested in. People love talking though, and they will tell you that those extensions or that weave negates that your hair is natural. It does no such thing; your hair, the hair growing from your scalp, is chemical free, and that is what we are going for. The last reason not to big chop, which only comes with having big chopped before, would be emotional turmoil. Some days you will be on top of the world and you and your TWA will be best friends; on other days you will regret the very moment that the idea to big chop entered your head.
I went through it, and I decided to Big Chop again 5 years later when I felt like I needed to, because honestly it is one of the best feelings in this life. Being able to refute the standards of beauty that society has fed me, and do something different, that gave me freedom. Big chopping builds your confidence; even if you decide to not rock your twa, there is at least a day or two where you don’t have hair to hide behind, and you have to fall in love with what you have, and not what you bought from Hair, Beauty and Bundles down the road. You may rock those extensions with the best of them, but you know that under that lies a mane just waiting for you to love it. Big chopping is whatever you make it. It can be the best or worst experience of your life; whatever you feed will grow. If you feed yourself that short hair has made you ugly, prepare to feel ugly. If you feed yourself that short hair has brought more emphasis to your beautiful face, prepare to feel like America’s Next Top Model. Hair does not make or break you unless you let it; believe that. I have Big Chopped twice in the last six years and you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll do it again before I die.
Grace and Peace,
*: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the natural hair community at large.