Me, left, when I had long, relaxed hair.

I woke up and didn’t want my hair anymore. On that life-changing day, my relaxed hair fell about two inches below my shoulders. I had wrapped, oil-sheened and begrudgingly put on a scarf for it to keep one more day while I mulled over the trip to the barber to release myself of the drama. I’d had enough though. I didn’t realize at the time, but long hair wasn’t what I was meant to sport. I was meant to be able to wash and go, let my scalp breathe and show off my other sensuously feminine features.

Although I went for regular appointments every two weeks, luckily, I didn’t have a co-dependent relationship with any stylist. Debbie was all for doing my hair right and had gone natural herself. I got up, combed out the hair and looked at it. I tried to imagine what I’d look like again with a fade after growing the hair for three years. I just couldn’t remember. I showered (without covering my hair), got dressed, dropped the kids off at daycare and started my day.

I called Sandra to see if I could get a cut before I went to class. I wanted to feel the breeze on my head. I wanted to be released from the curlers, blow dryer, rollers and daily styling associated with keeping my locks from curling back up again. I was tired of devoting so much time to a regimen that only made me look slightly different from someone else. I wanted to sport those curls that I was born with. When I got to Sandra’s house, I told her to give me a buzz cut. I figured if I was going natural, I was going all the way natural. No in-between or just cutting out the relaxer. I’m was starting at scalp zero. Feeling the clippers glide across my hair, cutting off silky, processed strands made me want to cry. On that floor were three years of hairstyles I rocked to fit an image, hair that made me feel out of place and expectations that didn’t belong to me. Seeing all of that on the floor was an awakening that my life truly was a series of choices and I could choose to perpetrate or just be who I wanted to be at any given moment in time.

Sandra pulled me out of my emotional reverie when she reached fuzz level.

“Do you want the sides tapered, a fade or….”

“Bald fade.”

She didn’t hesitate and cut the last of those few strands of spiky hair off my head. Even in the middle of summer, I could feel the hot breeze massage my now-exposed scalp and neck. I could feel it move gently from one temple to the other and run quickly across the crown of my head. She handed me the mirror and I didn’t know what to say. I could see me and I looked the same, but without the hair, I really had an opportunity to look at my features. I noticed the shape of my head for the first time. My features seemed to stand out more than usual and I wasn’t sure if that scared or excited me. I never had my hair cut that short before and it took a minute to adjust to the new feelings washing over me. I couldn’t change my mind because there was NO way to attach any hair back on my scalp, but at the same time, being me, I really just wanted to know how people would react. I’d deal with my own issues, but something about people telling me I shouldn’t have done something gives me the strength to do it and live with the results. She finished me up and I was out the door.

I went to class that night to mixed reactions. Just about everyone did a double take or the stare. It made me a little self-conscious at first, but then I got past it. What I was really identifying were my own ideas of beauty and how I would measure up now that I didn’t have hair to boost my beauty points. I held my head up though while thinking about all these things. And bought massive sized earrings so no one would mistake me for a man.

The next day I woke up and had cutter’s remorse. I cried a little bit because I went from hair to bald and looked like a boy in my own eyes. I stared at my gleaming scalp and the shadow of hair on top and asked myself out loud ‘What did you do?’ All that freedom I felt the day before came crashing down like cheap glass at my feet. I just wanted to stay in the house until my hair grew out.

Next: Venturing out

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