Category Archives: individuality

I cut my (our?) hair.

When I was younger, I had my hair hot combed until my first perm at the age of 13. I’d always wanted a perm, b/c I loved swimming and couldn’t take the tenderheaded pain of combing it out afterwards. I wanted hair and styles like my mom’s & sister’s. I took pride in my long hair and never thought of cutting it. I wanted to be like Sampson!

A day before my business trip to D.C., I went to my new favorite salon to have my hair hydrated, flat ironed, and chopped. By “chopped” I mean having several inches cut off. I decide to go from past shoulder length to just below chin length in a concave inverse bob.

I’ve been into bobs since TLC and the idea of having one only grew stronger when Rory on Gilmore Girls cut her hair upon her entrance to Yale. Even though the character is younger than me, I thought the hair cut looked so sophisticated and adult. Something I desperately wanted to be considering the fact that other adults where always mistaking me for a high school student even though I was a junior in University.

Recently, a friend of mine told me about her concave bob and how much she loved it. I did some googling and found this really dramatic picture that I feel in love with and decided on it immediately.

Now, this is not the first time I cut my hair. A few years ago, when I first tried a bob, my stylist cut it much shorter than I desired, but I liked it all the same. I warned friends and family that I planned to get it cut and many tried to dissuade me.

“Your hair is so long and healthy! I like it long. You shouldn’t cut it.”
Other folks that I hadn’t thought to tell where shocked. Some almost seemed angry that I had cut my hair. It was as if I had done something to them personally. Although most never said more than “But it looked so good long! How could you cut it? Do you know people are buying/trying to grow hair like yours? And then you go and cut it all off!”

The feeling, the meaning behind the words communicated to me that I was some sort of hair ambassador for black women. That my long hair proved to others (possibly white others) that black women could have long, healthy looking hair. That there’s some sort of community bonding or ownership over the state of my hair. People seemed invested in it. Maybe some saw it as aspirational? I don’t know. I don’t want to go that far into thinking people looked up to my hair.

Even in the salon people questioned me, “Do you really want to cut all that pretty hair off?” Unlike the first time I cut it, I had supporters who reminded everyone that it was “just hair” and that it would still look just as pretty short.
Has anyone else experienced this? I can understand the obsession with having long, straight hair. I know where that comes from (fake, racist ass beauty myth!). However, the idea that I should not cut my hair for the sake of others, including I may not even know personally, truly puzzles me.

Below, a funny anecdote.

After the chop, I went home and hung around for a little while. I got ready to leave again, but noticed my father hadn’t noticed my hair! He usually does and often says something like, “Wow, my hair looks beautiful!” (It’s always HIS hair!)
I asked him, “So, nothing to say to me?”
“My hair looks really nice.”
I put on a playfully exasperated tone, “Is that all?”
He turned on the lights and looked me up and down, but only looked confused.
“Sigh, I cut off six inches!”
His confusion melted into a look of sorrow.
“Oh, you didn’t even notice but now you want to be sad?”
I laughed and left.