This week I started volunteering at the Violet O. Jeffers Nicholls primary school. I spent time shadowing grades 3-6 and went on a field trip for the grade 5 social studies lesson, where the children learned about the different types of mangrove trees on the islands and we even planted a few.A member of staff complimented me on how my short hair suited me and told me that her daughter wanted to cut her hair short like mine.? Someone said she was too young to make the decision to cut her hair. This got me thinking about my own hair journey.
My mom relaxed my hair when I was nine and I didn?t know how to look after it. It wasn?t long before it started breaking. It would grow to a certain length and break. There wasn?t the access to resources such as YouTube back in the 1990s. I used to gel down the sides with that nice brown gel that would lift off my face after it had dried.
The last time I relaxed my hair; it fell out in clumps when washing out the creamy crack. So I decided to stop perming my in 2011 as it was badly damaged due to stress. I didn?t see the point in relaxing my damaged hair.
I wore braids for a while and then decided that I didn?t want to spend three days braiding my hair with aching biceps. So I made the effort to relearn my hair. ?With a lot of support from my cousin, when I was transitioning, I tried a twist out and I looked like Angelica?s doll from the Rugrats. My cousins hair texture is different to mine, her curls are looser and she had already cut off her permed ends.
As a black woman, ?going natural? was about relearning my natural curls and embracing my melanin feminity. I had a lot of bad hair days where I questioned why I actually wore my hair the way I did but there were also a lot days were my curls were popping.
First hair cut
Natural hair to me is about embracing my mane with the hair that God gave me. My natural hair allows me to be versatile with styles, colours and accessories. I went five years of learning my hair, cutting it, colouring it, twisting, straightening. You name it, I tried it.
When I did the big chop in October last year ? it was not a Brittany Spears moment but it was very impulsive. I went to my hairdressers to get my hair straightened, coloured and trimmed. Whilst I was waiting I saw a stylist with a short natural mohawk and a customer who had just had the big chop.
When I sat in the chair, I told my hairdresser how much I admired the hair styles and she said ?cut it?, I thought about it and said ?okay?. She got excited and then said I?m going to give you five minutes to think about it, if you?re going to cry then I’m not cutting it. I looked in the mirror and touched my slightly damaged, dry hair and said lets do it. Its just hair, it will grow back.
My short hair doesn?t define me as a woman. I didn?t feel the need to wear more make up than I do (which isn?t much) or wear big earrings more than normal. I wanted to let my face get used to the new adjustment but short hair doesn?t make me look like a boy. My face was a lot rounder, so it did feel exposed. However, after a few days I loved it. Every time I went back to the hairdressers I cut it shorter because it suited my face and was even lower maintenance.
Before I cut it, my hair had not been as long as it was since I was nine years old. So I know that black hair grows. It does take looking after but so does relaxed hair. When I am ready (if that day ever comes), I know that my hair will grow back to the long, thick, curly locks.