“I Felt Like I Was Holding Onto A Piece Of Femininity…” Lena Waithe Explains Why She Cut Her Locs Off
Writer, show-creator and producer Lena Waithe recently cut off her her locs. What might have read as a spontaneous or even trivial decision to some, immediately signified something deeper to Black women and other folks who know that when a woman cuts her hair, she’s about the change her life.
We can’t speak too any changes Waithe is going to make but the decision certainly speaks to a shift in perspective. During a red carpet interview with Variety at an Hollywood Foreign Press Association banquet, Waithe said she realized she was holding on to her locs for the sake of other people.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and if I could get deep with you, I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am. And I think I thought for a long time, ‘Oh, if I cut my hair, I’ll be a stud, I’ll be — in the gay world, there’s a lot of categories — I’ll be a stud or I’ll be a butch,’ and I always thought, ‘Well, no, I’m not that, I’m still soft,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I gotta put that down ’cause that’s something that is outside of me.’ And I just said, ‘I’m going to do it and I cut it and I felt so free, so happy and so joyful and I really stepped into myself. And if people call me a butch or say ‘She’s stud.’ or call me sir out in the world, so what? So be it. I’m here with a Prada suit on, not a snitch of makeup and a haircut. I feel like, why can’t I exist in the world in that way?”
This is a story I know all too well. I didn’t know this at the time but before my freshman year of college, I did a Big Chop. After we’d been friends for months, one of my newfound homegirls told me that she assumed I was a lesbian when she first met me because of my haircut. It’s a thing. But even if you’ve never wondered if people would make assumptions about your sexuality or personality based on a hairstyle, most Black women can speak to the weight that’s been placed on our hair.
Like Waithe said, the catalyst may start as an external pressure. But it becomes dangerous and unhealthy when the importance we place on the opinions of others start to influence our behavior in ways that are in opposition to the people we’d really like to be in the world.
You can watch this red carpet moment in the video below.