Two weeks before the “Big Chop”, I removed braids that had been in my hair for weeks prior. My hair had been braided several times since October. My intention with the braids was to minimize having to comb my hair, making my daily routines a little easier. As I reflect, I have never been obsessed with my hair, but it added to my outward beauty and complimented my outward appearance.
When I removed the braids, I went to the hairdresser and got my usual wash, press, trim, and style, and I was very dissatisfied with the outcome. I told myself “This is not it”. I wanted something different- instantly. It appeared that the braids had broken off my hair, it was shorter than usual and seemed so mundane and way too familiar. I then made up my mind that I wanted to cut my hair off and try something new. I have never cut my entire hair off before- NEVER! I was too scared, too worried about what people would say, wondered if I would like myself that way, and most importantly, was very concerned if I would be “accepted” with short hair.
This time was different, my mind was made up and I knew what I wanted. I spoke with my husband and told him my intentions, he surmised that I may be experiencing a “mid-life crisis” and supported my decision. Even though he supported it, he had his perception of what he was expecting from this “big chop”. He wanted curls and a well-tapered “do”. I learned this after the experience.
I called my hairdresser and told her of my intent, she was shocked and played it off. Primarily because she has been styling and caring for my hair for over 20 years and knew my lack of spontaneous gesture regarding my hair. I have been very predictable with my hair care, and she was not convinced that I wanted this or was even serious. So, I started sending her images of what I wanted, and she started sending me videos of the pros and cons of the “big chop”. I thanked her for the videos, reviewed them, weighed my options, but was still committed to this endeavor.
On the day that was scheduled for the “big chop”, I was extremely excited, only a small hint of uncertainty was there, but I was eager to see what this experience had to bring. My hairdresser asked again if this is what I wanted, my answer remained “yes”. I wanted my cut and wanted a copper color to make it pop. As she cut, I watched, and I immediately fell in love with my hair and myself all over again. It was amazing. I loved my hair. I smiled from ear to ear. It was exactly how I thought it would be AMAZING.
My biggest concern, nonetheless, was what my husband would have to say. I valued his acceptance of me the most. I know that other people’s opinions of my hair I could survive, but his opinion of me is still the most crucial one. I loved my hair, I did, but if he didn’t like it, would it change my view of myself?
When I made it home, my sisters complimented me, so did my father. However, my husband was stunned, shocked, and speechless. I could tell immediately that he did not like my hair. A part of me immediately questioned, is it my hair that he did not like, or was it me? This is not what he was expecting- AT ALL. I took a deep breath, tried to ignore his reaction, and attempted to convince him that my hair was fine, I was still his wife and am beautiful, nonetheless. He was still in shock.
I spent the next two hours “inside my head”, utilizing affirmations, positive self-talk, and staying calm to remind myself of my choice. The key here is “MY CHOICE”. I did nothing wrong, hurt no one, am not a bad person, I love my decision and the outcome, if no one celebrated this big step of mine, I am going to do it. These two hours were the most important of my life so far, because, for the first time in my 43 years, I completed accepted myself, and instantly my perception of myself changed. I told myself boldly that I am okay, I am beautiful, I am free to make choices for my life that do not hurt anyone else. Up until this moment, I have spent so many years working on this area of my life, because while I have improved the way I value myself, nurtured myself, improved kindness towards myself, I never truly accepted who I was. I was somehow always able to perseverate on my flaws, minimize my strengths and efforts. This lack of self-acceptance was rooted in years of fear, rejection, mixed with adulthood trauma and my long-term healing that is still taking place. This haircut made the difference.
My vibrance returned and while my husband struggled to accept the change, I was confident of my decision and have no regrets. Later that day I sent a picture of my haircut to all my girlfriends via SMS messaging so that they could be aware of the changes- they all had varied reactions, some approving, some questioning, but none of their reactions mattered. I still loved it – for me.
Exposure to traumatic events impacts how we view ourselves. The message that we have been told about ourselves throughout our lifetime, impacts how we see ourselves, the world’s viewpoint of how we should or should not be impact our view of ourselves. If we don’t meet the standards of these messages, it can truly affect how we fully accept ourselves.
This is my story. Your journey to complete self-acceptance may be different, but I encourage you to look deep within and realize how valuable you are, regardless of how those around you may feel about you. Take the time to nurture yourself, take the time to heal the pain of the past, rewrite the negative messages you have been told about yourself, change the negative view of yourself, practice doing this; PLAN TO HEAL. Healing from life’s trauma is possible, but you must be intentional about it. When all is said and done, all it will take is a “haircut” to get you to the place of complete self-acceptance.
Stacey M. Williams LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
Owner- The Restoration Village: Therapeutic and Holistic Services