Today, we’re talking about our hair.
What is it about hair that makes us women feel confident? Does the amount of confidence we hold depend on the length of our hair? These are questions we’ve been asking ourselves a lot. Women in general are expected to have long hair, and to cut long hair off always seems to shock people. Historically, hair has been a factor in whether people are perceived as attractive, and is a sign of youth and health. However, times are changing, but we both admittedly still put a lot of our self-worth into our hair. However, what we haven’t really unpacked in a while is why that is. So, we feel it’s necessary to reflect on our hair journeys and what we felt during the process of growing out short hair.
My journey began in January of 2016. Months prior, I was contemplating just chopping off all of my hair because, despite it being long, I just didn’t feel myself. Long hair wasn’t the issue for me, it was having long, heat damaged hair. My mom, like any good mom, shielded me from a young age from learning about my own hair. She didn’t allow me to experiment with it because she feared that I would ruin it. In her defense, my older sisters did some damage to their hair during their teens while playing around and experimenting with their hair, so her fear was with good reason. After a while of experimenting, they both settled for weaves. Weaves allowed their natural hair to recover from the damage while also allowing them more time to live their life and less time worrying about their hair.
Now you can see why my mom tried a different approach with me. She emphasized long, healthy hair. When I was around 12 or 13, my mom felt I was old enough to start going to the hair stylist she went to. And for the next 8 years, I would repeat the cycle of going to get my hair professionally straightened until I didn’t even know what my natural hair looked like. Did it curl? What was it’s true texture? Having long, straightened hair made me feel confident and pretty for the majority of those 8 years. That’s a long story short.
Now back to January of 2016.
I didn’t feel pretty with long hair anymore. My hair was long but it was severely heat damaged. I was noticing that girls just like me were cutting their hair off and starting this journey to discover their natural hair and I wanted in. So I set an appointment and I cut off a good portion of my hair. By good portion, I mean from the middle of my back to about shoulder length. That was huge for me and actually, I felt free. I know, I didn’t just shave it all off like some women did, but at the time, I wasn’t ready for that. I just needed to take a step that was irreversible. Even though I cut my hair to shoulder length, I still wasn’t satisfied with the change. I felt like I needed to cut more off, so I made a second appointment and had more hair cut off.
This haircut felt different. I hated it.
I came home from the salon pissed at the world because it was too short. Maybe even in shock. I had never seen my hair that short before and didn’t feel pretty anymore. I thought I would be mistaken for a boy amongst other negative thoughts. As time passed, my hair grow and the way I felt about myself changed. My confidence started to come back, even with short hair. I liked how it felt to be starting something new and to finally see change within and on myself. Short hair or not, I felt this journey was necessary. Not only for healthy hair, but for my self growth. More time passed, my hair kept growing, and as it grew, I kept cutting off the damaged pieces. I was determined to get the results I set out to receive. I stopped worrying about the length of my hair but the health instead.
Now, it’s May of 2018 and my hair is healthier than ever. Back in 2016, this confidence is what I wanted to feel. But I had to go through my process in order to get to this point. I still want long curls, but who knows what my hair will turn out to be. Baby fro or not, I’ve learned to accept my hair for what it is.
So does my self-worth depend on my hair? As of now, yes. I don’t think I could shave my hair off. My womanhood feels dependent on having long hair. I’m not a traditionally feminine woman, so without my hair I feel stripped of that identity. Long hair makes me feel like myself, and since I’m still prioritizing health over length, I’m okay with that.
I made a choice in March of 2015 to cut off nearly 20 inches of my hair. I was a senior in high school, about to graduate, and I insisted to myself that I needed to lose the weight of my hair in order to progress into the next stage of my life. This decision was a long time coming. I had basically been tempted to chop off all my hair since I was twelve. Actually, I only stopped myself because of the pixie cut I got at age nine (I looked like a dandelion for like a year straight when it was growing out). But finally, after my middle and high school years of growing my hair out, I chopped it.
My mom enlisted the involvement of our hairstylist and family friend Chrissy (who is the only person other than myself who I trust with my hair) and bam! I had a bob. I donated my hair to Wigs for Kids, and was temporarily satisfied with my shoulder length cut. Of course, me being me, I had a DIY attack like three weeks later and cut it all the way up to my earlobes.
For the first six months or so, I really liked having short hair.
I was in a weird place during that time, and cutting my hair made me feel like I had control of my life. I chose to remove something that I felt was a weight. Now, I can see that the hair was a surrogate for another weight I needed to remove from my life, but we won’t get into that too much for this post. Although, I bet y’all can guess what (he) was.
When I got to college, several things changed in my life that made me realize that cutting my hair was a mistake. The first was that I realized that I liked girls. This led to the second thing, which was breaking up with my high school boyfriend (whoops, I said I wasn’t going to get into that, didn’t I?). Once I was honest with myself and freed myself from a relationship that really was not doing me any good, I basically realized: “shit, I want my hair back!” So then I started growing it back out.
Ariana has worked wonders for my hair.
She was the one who convinced me to go sulfate and paragon free, and also she has worked wonders for me flourishing as a person in general. I also credit living off campus. I swear, in the months since I moved out of my dorm room, my hair has grown faster and healthier than ever. But we’re here to talk about why I feel more confident and happier with long hair, and unpack why that is.
For me, cutting my hair was an expression of wanting change, but I was too afraid or dishonest to own up to the change I really needed. During the time I had short hair, I also felt very separate from myself. I was relearning who I was, and discovering that I really didn’t know myself that well in the first place. Growing my hair out coincided with growing as a person, so now I feel like my hair reflects that. I love my long hair because of what it represents: change over time, freedom, personal growth, and mental and physical health.
I feel like my self-worth is tied to my hair, and my confidence too. Although, I don’t think that’s a bad thing for me yet. If it gets to that point, then I guess y’all will see another crisis chop from me! But for now, I’m still in the process of growing my hair out, and I’m feeling more secure and confident with myself than I have since before I cut it all off to begin with.
Do you guys have long or short hair? what does your hair mean to you? leave us comments! we’d love to know.
Until next time,
Ariana & Hannah