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Commentary: The Five Emotional States of the "Big Chop"

Natural Short Hair Model

So you’re really going to do the “Big Chop.” Go natural. Embrace your inner afro. Marvelous! But before you meet your real hair texture for the first time, prepare yourself for the wave of emotions you’ll surely experience.

If you’re one of the fortunate few who immediately found fab hairstyles and a routine, that’s great. But you’re in the minority. This post is for everyone else.

Before you go natural, consider these five steps:

  1. Throw away all preconceived notions! First, let go of whatever you think your hair’s going to look like once it grows out. If you expect your hair to grow out looking like Solange Knowles’ fro or Tracee Ellis Ross’s ringlets, divorce yourself of this notion now. No two heads of natural hair are ever alike. You may even have more than one curl pattern in your head. Or your roots may curl up differently from your ends. Embrace the surprise.
  2. Accept your texture. Don’t feel bad if you have Natural Hair Shock Syndrome. You might start to wonder why you abandoned relaxers, but you’ll feel alone in your shame because to complain out loud could cause folks to say you’re a self-loathing, straight hair fetishist. Ignore them -- almost everyone experiences this initial shock. It’s just not popular to say, “I had to learn how to love my hair.”
  3. Experiment! Your new hair is an adventure! Now is the time to try different techniques, hairstyles, products and methods to find what works best for you – like rocking a short cut, growing it out, molding loose curls with styling gel, using conditioners to make it curl up, or trying locs, braids, two-stranded twists, twist-outs, blow-outs and up-dos.
  4. Be confident. As you go natural, some people will make rude comments like, “You need a perm,” or “you don’t have ‘good’ hair like Cousin So-and-So,” or “you’ll never get a man with those naps.” It’s best to ignore them, but you should keep a few comebacks in your arsenal. If you’re God-fearing, I suggest saying, “I’m embracing the hair the Lord gave me rather than trying to perfect His perfection.” If not that, try one of these: “It’s a recession,” “it’s just hair,” or “forget $100 perms – that’s my new shoes money.”
  5. Be a Hair Ambassador, Not a Hair Bully. Now that you’re master of your curl domain, don’t let your love turn into judgment. Don’t try to convert other women using the same judgmental tactics people used on you to bully you into getting a perm. Never accusing women with perms, wigs or weaves of “hating themselves.” Remember the nervousness, frustration and possible disappointment you felt early in your hair journey? Forget petty debates over what’s better or easier – instead, help out those who are curious about going natural. Now go out and have a grand ol’ natural time.
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