– by IeShia McDonald
I remember Skyping him and wishing that I could disappear. It was my freshman year in college and I had completely cut my permed ends off—a monumental moment that changed from exciting to crying to devastating by the time I went to bed.
It was February 26, 2011, the day I decided to finally do the big chop. Two weeks prior, I was sporting fuzzy box braids that were past their expiration date. So, I took them down only to reveal a matted unmanageable mess. It had been 10 months since my last relaxer so you can just imagine the two different textures I had to deal with. My hair was so bad that I broke my wide-tooth comb and I was subjected to wearing a beanie to hide my hair. I couldn’t take it anymore, my relaxed ends had to go.
To rewind a little bit, when I first embarked on my natural hair journey, my boyfriend at the time was all for it. He had some knowledge of my hair thinning from prom and graduation weaves and knew that I longed for a change before leaving for college. So I presented to him the idea of going natural. And he, a product of a household that consisted of locs and natural hair, supported me. It was important for me to know how he felt about it because we were getting serious; and I wanted to make sure he would remain attracted to me. I told him I would have to grow my hair out and in order to do this I would need to wear protective styles (braids, sew-ins) until my hair had grown out to a comfortable length. Through the course of my transitioning to natural, I sported a full-head sew-in with deep-wave curls, and curly box braids. Both styles he liked.
Fast forward to February 26, after the beautician completed snipping my relaxed ends, she slowly turned my chair to face the mirror. Silence. I was disgusted with my tight coils. I took my hand and caressed the back of my hair, realizing that I could no longer hide my hair in a ponytail, and then the tears came. My friends who accompanied me tried to reassure me that I looked beautiful, but their efforts only comforted me enough to get up from the chair, leave the salon and continue crying in their car. On my way back to my dorm room all I wanted to do was Skype my boyfriend. He’ll still think I’m beautiful, I thought. I texted him and told him that I wanted to reveal my haircut to him, to which he responded, “I didn’t know you had to cut your hair to go natural.” I nearly dropped my phone. Was this real life? All of the long discussions we had about this, me forcing him to watch natural hair videos on Youtube with me and he still didn’t get it. My stomach dropped. I knew that he wouldn’t like my hair.
When we got on Skype it took several minutes of him calming me down to actually turn on my camera. I pressed the button and waited for my face to pop up on screen. Silence.
“Do you like it?” I asked him. Silence.
“Babe, why would you cut your hair and not tell me before?” he asked.
I then re-explained to him the process of going natural. He then smiled and said, “it’ll be cute once it grows out, and it’ll grow on me too. I just wish you wouldn’t have cut your hair.”
At this point I knew that it would take some time for him to find my hair attractive. And time it did take. But within the first year of being completely natural I couldn’t help but be reminded of his first reaction: shock. It was like he was looking at a stranger, someone he had passed by on the sidewalk and not his girlfriend of almost a year. I personally became comfortable with my hair about two months into my journey. I thought that having a TWA framed my face well and I loved the way my curls popped.
I realized over time that I didn’t go natural, but rather returned to it; it was a style that I was born with. And once I accepted that, I was no longer ashamed of my hair. My hair was big, puffy and beautiful and I was grateful for the healthy hair God had blessed me with. Once you accept that your hair is an extension of you and not what defines you or your beauty, you’ll truly learn to accept yourself. I love my hair; it’s unique and versatile and makes me stand out.
Do you have any hair confessions? Share your stories in the comments below.