The Big Chop
On a random day in October, my best friend and I, in her dining room, chopped all my hair off. Like, all. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I remember looking at myself in the mirror post big chop and feeling a sense of identity. Looking at my reflection like “Suzanna, there you are.” It was a beautiful feeling of self-acceptance and confidence. It’s totally cliche, but the sense of liberation after a big chop is so real. I love my natural, afro hair and I’ve received so much validation from friends, family, and random strangers, all complimenting my hair. My wild, spiraling, thick, glorious, natural, African hair.
One of my first childhood memories is that of my grandmother (who was of East Indian descent, with extremely long, Asian hair) commenting on the coarseness of my hair. When I was around 6 years old, my parents made the decision to start chemically processing my hair. This meant putting a creamy white substance on my hair to keep the kinks away. Keeping the kinks away made the weekly blow drying and flat ironing sessions bearable, as my caregivers tried their best to make my hair manageable. According to my mom, as a child, I flaunted my relaxed hair boastfully, loving that my once kinky curls were no longer a warrant for complaint from those who had to tame it. My story is not uncommon. I enjoyed my relaxed hair, until the day I didn’t.
Relaxed to Natural
I rejected my natural hair because of convenience, comfort, social norms and because that’s all I knew. Then my curiosity about my curls outweighed all the reasons I claimed for destroying them. I wanted to know what my natural hair was really like. I stopped relaxing my hair, and as my roots grew I decided to embrace them. I transitioned (grew my natural hair, holding on to relaxed ends) for 10 months before cutting all my relaxed hair, leaving only my natural hair; a teeny weeny afro #TWA.
My TWA represents more than a hairstyle because to me it’s not just a hairstyle. It’s a reflection of my African roots, the way I was created to be. Cutting the relaxed ends was symbolic, a gesture that represents self-acceptance and the decision to embrace a part of me that I formally rejected. As I cut off the old, to embrace the new, a part of me was re-birthed, that for many years had been stifled.
What do I use in my hair?
I get this question often. I think the key to maintaining curly hair is locking in moisture. This means regular deep conditioning and hot oil treatments. I typically do one or the other, once per week. I tend to mix my own homemade deep conditioner, throwing together natural ingredients I find in my kitchen and bathroom (essential oils like lavender and vanilla, conditioning oils like coconut, grapeseed and castor, edible goodness like avocado, and butters such as shea and cocoa).
Outside of deep conditioning and hot oils once a week, I follow the LOC method for sealing in moisture when styling. The LOC Method = leave in conditioner + Oil + Cream (in this order, immediately after washing, on wet hair). Finding the right product for your hair type takes trial and error. In my next hair article, I will share some of my favs from each category (leave in, oil and creams). Stay tuned!
If you have specific questions about my natural hair journey or products please ask in the comments section.