Growing up as a Black girl, I placed a lot of value within my hair. My curls were a way for me to connect to my family, my culture, and my identity. As I’ve cut and dyed, styled and treated my hair over the years, the pattern changed and I knew it was time for a fresh start. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from cutting more than five inches of hair off at the start of the year.
First, I’ll offer some context to the “before” of this decision. My hair was about mid-back length and dark brown at the time that I cut it off. All summer (and quarantine, and the year before that) I had let it grow out without trims, but the curls were becoming weighted down. My 3A curls were dry and limp, and became more of a wavy 2c or 2b pattern with heat damage and split ends. I did enjoy the length of my hair, and that still truly makes me feel most like myself, but I wasn’t willing to compromise health and quality for it. In a spur of the moment decision at home, my mother and I decided to cut about 5 to 6 inches off of the lengths of my hair for a long bob cut above my shoulders.
My DIY skills were not the end all be all. I made an appointment to touch up the trim and add some shag layers to my hair, but before professional hands even touched it, my hair felt much lighter. Although wash days and maintenance lasted much longer, the curls gained their shine and definition almost immediately. I’ve already saved money on creams, gels, and mousse products and have scaled back my hair routine greatly. I have a new added confidence that I didn’t with my damaged hair, and I’m definitely grateful for that!
However, it hasn’t all been fantastic. Some days I find myself looking at old photos of my long hair, or seeing Insta posts of models with luxurious locks. I have to remind myself that cutting my hair was an investment, one that will take time to get a return on. In a year, or six months, or even a month, I will be able to see progress and new growth in my hair that wouldn’t have been possible before. In the time being, I can enjoy a fresh cut perfect for the springtime! I guess when it comes to hair, sometimes you have to lose some to win some.
By Leah Ollie, Senior, Whitney Young Magnet High School