The big chop was about more than just hair...
As soon as I hit middle school I decided that curly hair was bad and straight hair was good. I was so embarrassed to go in the pool with my friends because of the fear of them seeing my hair poof up to it’s natural state. I had already blossomed in other areas way before all my friends did, I didn’t need them to notice my hair too. It’s funny how when you’re young the last thing you want to do is stand out or be unique. You almost want to be invisible. Or at least I did. I grew up going to a private school where most of the time I was the only black person in my class. I wasn’t proud of it or mad about it. Mostly, embarrassed by it. I would sit there and pray that no one noticed. Or no one asked me if I noticed. You know, when other kids remind you what color you are like you don’t know. That was the worst.
So my hair was the only “different” thing I could really control. I got my mom to let me get a relaxer (a less harsh perm) when I turned twelve and I kid you not, I spent HOURS looking at myself in the mirror. All of a sudden having hair that moved in the wind made me feel like I won the Tony. I felt beautiful. I think that was the first time I could call myself that in confidence. Somehow it had gotten trapped in my mind that there was only one form of beauty and this was IT. So I spent the rest of my teenage years dreading pool parties, afraid to crinkle my perfectly straight hair, and length checking myself in the mirror every five seconds. It was a lot of hard work and extremely stressful. Looking back its almost like I lived a double life. At home I’d have my poof out when I was having a wash day or I’d wrap my hair in a silk scarf before going to bed. And then sleepovers would happen and I’d risk ruining my perfectly straight hair just so that my friends could never see me in a silk scarf. Instead of just educating them and getting them to understand, I hid myself thinking that it would make them more comfortable.
Now if you look back at pictures of African American women in the 70’s you’ll see that natural hair is nothing “new”. But when the second wave of young black girls started chopping off their hair and wearing afros, it was like the revolution had started all over again. It was a true MOVEMENT! Around this time I had just been through high school where I started to come into myself. There were a lot more black kids in my grade and I found a bond with them that allowed me to discover a confidence in myself I never knew I had. I was still ironing my hair to the root but, baby steps. Fast forward to college and i’m figuring it out. Im loving being black and loving TALKING about being black! Which was a huge step forward for me! Three years into college and I’m turning into a more in depth version of who Ciara actually is! And then I decide...I’m gonna chop it all off.
My family was DEVASTATED. Black people will never say “it’s just hair...it’ll grow back.” Because deep down we’re really not sure it will. But I had been toying with the idea for some time. I was getting inspired by these beautiful random women I found online who just owned who they were and I couldn’t imagine what my life would feel like without worrying about the texture of my hair. That had never existed for me. So maybe it was the feeling or my really sweet hairdresser friend (who shall not be named) who promised me I would look good and that she would help me keep it up, but nevertheless, on November 25th, 2017 I had my own mother, against her will, chop it all off.
I had been dreaming about what it would look like for so long that the first time I looked in the mirror it looked exactly as I thought it would. And I felt absolutely beautiful. I felt confident. And most importantly I felt free. I was running on this high of doing this really crazy and wild thing and being proud of myself anyway that when my own family didn’t compliment me on Thanksgiving day I didn’t falter. I was still HAPPY AS HELL and I know this is dramatic but I felt like the ballsiest woman in the world. I had only told a handful of people I was gonna do it so I hit everybody with that instagram post and my heart exploded. It was well received!
Fast forward to about two weeks later I was showering and feeling my very light head and then I started to BALL! I COULDN’T STOP CRYING! Like that crazy heavy cry where you open your mouth and all you can manage is a sob every few seconds but its mostly silent and you can’t tell the difference between the shower and your tears. I COULDN’T BELIVE I CUT MY FUCKING HAIR OFF!!!! But I didn’t regret it. Not for a second. Instead, I realized something even bigger. I finally said goodbye to that old Ciara. The Ciara who really really REALLY thought about what people thought of her. The Ciara that didn’t want to be who she was. The Ciara that thought she couldn’t own the word beautiful. Like she didn’t deserve it. I spent so much of those years being held back by my own demons I didn’t realize how much it consumed me until that day. So now I can’t give myself any more excuses. I just proved that I could be a real badass. So why stop now? Imagine the plenty of other things I could do in my life if I stopped caring what other people thought of me. Who could I become? If you could pick the one thing in your life that holds you back the most what would it be?