I think we’ve all been there. After a period of trying to make a certain hairstyle work, we’re completely over it. For instance, after watching a permed haircut fail to grow past your shoulders year after year, you want to do the big chop. In the attempt to add some life to your straight, you go from your God-given brown hair to a bright red. And how about, after some deep thought and nothing to lose, you decide to try your hand at locs. Of course, when we make these huge hair changes, the immediate results after the fact aren’t always what we expect. I once went to get my hair colored light brown, but because of old rinses that hadn’t completely washed out of my head, the end result was something of a bright carrot orange after I asked the beautician to keep the color in longer. When I arrived home, an abode that belonged to my parents since I was fresh out of college at the time, I was already feeling very self-conscious about my new look. So much so that after I got about a block away from the salon, I threw a beanie on my head as fast as I could. So when I got home and had to show my mother the results, things went from bad to worse when I pulled the hat off:
“WHOA! What’s going on with that hair carrot top!?”
Everybody’s a comedian. And if that wasn’t enough, my father, who I thought was too occupied watching sports on TV, did a double take at my head and said in a sad tone, “It doesn’t look like you…” As if I wasn’t already feeling like I was going through a nightmare, my parents were there to make it worse. And it wasn’t the first time they made me want to hide in my room and never leave the house after one of my many hair transformations. After an attempt at a texturizer went straight to hell and left me with so little hair that you could actually see some of my scalp, my mother actually seemed disgusted by my haircut and shook her head at me every time I would go near her to say something for at least two days: “I just can’t believe they cut THAT much of your hair off.” It wasn’t until co-workers and strangers at the job I was working at told me they loved my hair cut and thought I was brave for it that I decided to finally suck it it up and own it. The support of people who cared and even from those who honestly didn’t know me from Adam helped to boost my confidence at a time when I thought I looked more like Victor than Victoria. And everybody needs that when they decide to take that big step out into the road and try something different and it doesn’t necessarily come out looking like something on the cover of Sophisticate’s Black Hair.
And that support is just what a friend of mine trying to find her way and living with her parents down South could use. In college, she was one of the few young women I had seen wear locs, and by the time we hit senior year, they were way down her back. But near the end of our college careers, she got bored and decided to single-handedly comb out her locs are on her own, a feat that took weeks and weeks and weeks. By graduation, she had a large fro and moved back to Texas to live post-grad life. In all the ups and downs of adulthood, she battled with her fro, even started wearing wigs, but recently she realized she missed her locs, so much so she decided to have them put in again. But this time around, not living amongst supportive college girlfriends but just her parents, things haven’t been easy. “My dad came up to me and started touching my hair and was like, ‘When are you going to do something with this head??’” she told me during a conversation a few weeks back. It was one of many comments her pops had made at her expense that he thought were funny, but she, like me when dealing with my own parents, actually found to be hurtful. She didn’t say anything to him about it either and is miserable at home because of it. The same support could have been used by another friend who was wearing a fro and had her boyfriend tell her, “Are you going to do something to your hair before you go outside?” when she went to run errands. Not too long after that incident and an ongoing lack of support, she put a perm back in her head.
I say all this to say, once again, that with any big change a person makes in their life, and yes, that includes hair, support is a must have. I think there have been times when we’ve looked at someone’s haircut and wondered what the hell they were thinking, but of course, not everything you think needs to be said out loud, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, some things need to be said in order to help people build up their confidence and feel comfortable in their skin. Or, better yet, feel comfortable in their hair. What people think and say is what keeps a lot of women from ever really feeling comfortable enough to try something new (“I’ve always wanted to cut my hair, I just never did…”), so even if you don’t like what you see, pretend that you do, because I’m pretty sure you would want someone to say the same little white lie for you.