Saturday it was about 55 degrees in Harlem; it was rainy, it was wet, and it was cold. I wanted to Netflix and Chill by my damn self, in bed, all day, and yet here I was walking into a shop to get my hair done. I didn’t want to be there, but I knew I needed to be.
I’d spent most of my morning in bed looking at @TheCutLife and pics under the #NaturalHair hashtag trying to find inspiration for what I wanted to walk out of the shop looking like. I got nothing. All I knew was I didn’t want to leave with one of those TWAs that screamed “I just went natural!” and that could only be tamed with an extra large headband (or a bra strap if you’re resourceful). I wasn’t necessarily scared of my hair being too short (although if you know me, you know me and my bun are one in the same), I just wanted to be sure I had a style that day and not one of those you-just-have-to-let-it-grow-out type of cuts.
I knew the probability of me walking out of the shop in tears was high when, after washing my hair, my stylist hesitantly told me I still had a lot of straight ends. “How much?” I asked, thinking damn, how long does it take to grow out a perm?! I’ve resisted for 16 months! That’s when I was given one of those index finger-thumb measurements demonstrating about 5-6 inches. DisTewMuch
I sat there for a good minute trying to decide what I should say before I turned into that Dave Chappelle crackhead meme and asked, “Y’all got anymore of that perm back there?” My beautician, in her natural hair salon, wasn’t going for it and began to lay out some options, like a silk out. But that didn’t make sense for my lifestyle which now includes working out every day. “Let’s just do a trim,” she suggested. I thought about it — for a long time. I didn’t come into the shop expecting a big chop or to free myself of the burden of perm oppression. In my mind I was just getting rid of a few loose ends. But it was those same straight loose ends coupled with my thick, wavy roots that I was tired of managing every single day. And so I said “OK.” And the chopping began.
Fun fact: I’m the type of person who, when in a stressful situation I’m not happy with, shuts down. Immediately, I stopped talking and contemplated what in God’s name I was going to look like when all was said and done. I also thought about the bar I went to the night before, the fake date who cancelled on me, and the lack of dating prospects and how things really weren’t going to work out for me if I walked out of here looking more like Brandon than Brande. I needed to think and not cry — at least not until I got home. The customer before me who’d just gotten a big chop and was left with a curly Cesar wasn’t going to let that happen.
“What’s wrong? You about to cut your hair off too? It’s OK. It’s just hair. I just cut mine all off and I am the weave queen, honey! You’re still going to have some hair. It’ll grow back. You’re a pretty girl, it’ll be fine. You still have a lot of hair. I’m about to go home and shower and I won’t even have to wear a shower cap. Don’t that sound good? Do you wear makeup? Put on some makeup and some big earrings, girl you’ll be good to go.”
The more this woman talked the more I wanted to jump out of the beautician’s chair. I live for makeup, but the idea that I’d have to walk out the house in it every day to mask a hideous haircut was not comforting. Tears were welling up for no damn reason other than the fact that mother nature sprung up on me a little early that morning making everything from having to put on pants to not being able to find my keys feel like something to cry about.
On top of that, my stylist was having a Fix My Life moment with me, saying a haircut is all about confidence and it was time for change. “You already lost 90 pounds, it’s time for a full new look.”
Umm. One physical transformation at a time please. I’m still trying to tackle belly fat and loose skin and lose more pounds. The last thing I need is to feel self-conscious about how I look from the neck-up too. Then came the other stylist who swept up my hair while I tried to peep over my cape and see just how much was gone. “You want me to put it in a bag for you?,” she asked in a tone I didn’t realize was facetious.
I was on some white girl ish.
“Have you ever seen yourself with a ‘fro?”
The way my stylist asked that question when she was done snipping told me ish wasn’t pretty. She even said she wasn’t going to let me see myself before the end result, but I demanded a look in the mirror because I knew there was a good chance I was going to walk out of that chair and either head to the Africans on 125th for some crochet braids or the Dominicans across the street for a blowout.
When I saw myself, I looked exactly how I didn’t want to look. I had that inverted triangle ‘fro that screams, “I cut all my hair off today because people think you don’t love yourself if you still get a perm.” I was not happy and the dead look in my eyes told everyone else in the shop as much.
My stylist suggested either a twist out or a roller set as a style but I couldn’t fathom sitting through that process for another couple of hours to still be mad at the end result. All I knew was I didn’t even have enough hair to put in a ponytail so I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do at the gym, much less when I had to face people at work on Monday.
The wash n’ go attempt we settled on at the shop Saturday was a no-go so I left the salon with my hood over me head and went to get provisions.
You thought I was going to say hair products didn’t you? Nope. I call this my I-just-did-a-big-chop-on-the-first-day-of-my-period starter kit. I showered, re-washed my hair, ate, and laid down thinking we gone try this again tomorrow. (I did pick up a little Kinky Curly too though, just for good measure.)
The first thing I knew I had to do was dye my hair jet black. I hate when my hair is black-brown and making it darker always adds much-needed sheen. I also knew the water spray bottle method employed the day before wasn’t going to work for me. In order for my waves/curls to take any type of shape my hair has to be soaking wet. I also have to apply a combination of a conditioner of some sort and a gel-like curly pudding. So, I applied both and let sit. Praise be to Jesus, I started to see the light.
By Monday (the pic above) I started to think my cut was cute. By Tuesday I’d already found an alternative style to which my co-worker said, “You’re already learning how to navigate your natural hair I see.” A black woman at the gym also told me she loved my curls which was the first compliment I’d gotten on my own hair in a while and I thought, OK, I guess I can do this. My period was also winding down so I wasn’t feeling so much like a psycho maniac who never wanted to leave her house again anymore either.
I have faith in this cliche journey I’ve embarked on 10 years after every other Black woman on earth gave up perms. I’ve long known I’ve needed to chill on the tight ponytails and I could tell it was only a matter of time before my edges permanently went running for the hills. I needed to give my whole head a break and I needed to finally take a chance and do something different instead of wondering “what if?” when I see other womens’ natural hair progression. So, for all the emotionally draining hoopla of the weekend, I’m glad I got the cut. I just would’ve picked a different day to do it and saved myself some tears and calories.