For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to have long, luxurious hair. And not just braids or weave, I wanted my hair to grow from my scalp to my behind, and beyond. My style idols were Aaliyah, Sailor Moon, and foreign women whose hair reached their ankles.
Half of the journey was getting my hair straight. My hair has been blow-dried since I was a toddler – this was pre-embracing your natural hair texture – and I got a relaxer just so I could avoid the hot comb. Apart from that inch that grows out every couple months, I have no idea what my natural curl pattern looks like.
But the other half of my journey was length! I spent years arguing with my hairdresser. “Look at all that hair you cut off!” “That hair wasn’t any good to you. Keep it trimmed and it’ll stay healthy. Come back in 8 weeks.” I only got my hair trimmed 2-3 times a year in actuality, but it still took me until my senior year of high school to see my hair comfortably pass my shoulders.
Then I went to college, and either I was totally reckless or the water was too harsh, but my length was stunted. And then 2010 happened. I had two vacations scheduled, both near water, so I followed the handbook that was given to me. Rule #56: Black women don’t mess with water, but if they want to attempt it, they will wear braids. I mean, how else was I going to swim every day, stay cute, and avoid damaging my hair from washing it 7x my normal rate?
I wanted “micros.” I wanted my hair to hang and flip. I sat in agony for hours, but it was done, and I was ready for my first vacation to Hilton Head. Fast forward maybe two weeks, and I was tired of having my hair tied up and not being able to rub my scalp. I wanted out, so I had my micros cut and unbraided. But my hair wasn’t sitting there waiting for me. My hair had prepared for battle, fought meekly, and lost. Half of it was missing!
I didn’t really have much of a choice, I had to cut it all down. I went from hair past my shoulders to a cropped cut with my hair just creeping over my ears. Then, I went on my second vacation with a pixie cut.
Against everything I’d known, I loved my hair short. I didn’t try to immediately grow it back. I kept cutting it. Sometimes I had long bangs and short sides. Sometimes one side was shaved. When I got tired of that, I cut it to an inch long. Then, I grew it out into a normal pixie. And I did this on and off for years.
It took about four years for me to crave a change and slow down on the trips to Best Cuts. Enter the awkward phase, where I thought I could grow my hair into a bob, but the hair on my neck kept growing faster than the hair on the top of my head. And re-enter, the old me that became obsessed with the length of my hair.
Whew. This was indeed a journey. But we had to go through this so you could see how much energy I’ve given my hair and how little any of it mattered.
Today, my hair is regularly getting trimmed before it can reach my next goal of “boob length.” People regularly tell me “Oh, wow, your hair is getting long,” and I get excited because it’s true. As short as my hair is compared to my white counterparts’, it’s never been this long for me. I love flipping it, pulling it in a clip, parting it different ways, feeling its weight. But I’m also in mourning.
I miss my edge. I miss not knowing where my blow drier is because my hair always dried overnight. I miss the freedom of not having to style it. I miss not having split ends and frizz because my ends were trimmed every two weeks. And I also miss the God-given hair I never truly got to meet.
What would it look like if I started over? How fun would it be to flip the script THAT hard, chop off my hair and stop relaxing it? What new possibilities would be on the other side of that?
I gotta admit, I’m also having another Britney phase. Between Kanye West, Tamar Braxton, Nick Cannon, Donald Trump, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Keshia Lance Bottoms, Breonna Taylor, Corona, racism, and my personal life, I want to just grab the handles on something and drive what happens next. I have this strong intuition that it would feel amazing.
But to be honest with you, man, I’m still scareder than a mofo. What if my forehead is too big? What if it looks ugly? What about the next awkward phase I’d have to go through? What if natural hair is more than I have the patience for? What if my husband likes it long?
Do I care? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see what happens next.