Let me preface this by saying that I believe that for many women, our hair is everything. Whether it’s short or long, braided or straight, weaved or natural, our hair defines who we are in a moment and time and helps other people determine who we are (or may be) and I’m no exception.
I’ve dyed my hair every color under the sun from red to blonde to brown and jet black and until the moment I shaved one side of it (in admittedly one of my few acts of rebellion), I never really thought much about why we do what we do to our hair or how it affects us.
Thinking back, I guess I changed up my hair styles for a lot of trivial reasons, but for people like my sister, changing her hairstyle was about more than being bored or wanting to be trendy.
When she approached me about dying her hair for the first time, I laughed because of her color choice, and yes, I know I’m an ass for laughing but I did.
“Blue? Why would you want to dye your hair blue? Don’t you think that’s a little extreme? What about your job?” I asked, not realizing how much I was lacking in support. She shrugged off my questions, purchased a bottle of bleach and dyed her hair none the less.
Months later, when she asked me if I could help cut her hair, I flat out told her no. “Why would you want to cut your hair? Don’t you think you’ll look too masculine? Don’t you think you’d be suited better with long hair?” Once again, she shrugged my questions off and she cut it herself in a mohawk that even she admitted wasn’t all too flattering. Once again, I failed to realize why she insisted on pulling crazy stunts with her hair and I chalked it up to teenage angst.
Then just a couple days ago, she asked if I could come and watch as she finally cut off the rest of it and surprisingly for both of us, I agreed.
After a couple minutes of watching her pick at her hair, trying to rack up the nerve to turn on the clippers, I decided to pick up the clippers and help. As my sister sat on the toilet in our bathroom and watched as I switched guards on the clippers and then abandoned them all together to do a freehand cut which left flurries of hair raining down on the floor, she looked apprehensive.
It wasn’t till later when she was grinning at her new hairdo in the mirror that she told me why.
She told me that she had been thinking about the year and how hard it has been for her and how much she’d been pushed to the limit in her faith, her education, and her sanity. “I just needed to cut it all off just to start new,” she said.
It’s then that I realized why we do what we do to our hair. To help us change, forget, heal, and start new, sometimes we all need that big chop.