Shortly after having my son, I decided to cut my braids out rather than try to undo them. This was the second time I had done this. Clearly short natural hair was something I wanted to experience, now the autonomy of motherhood granted me the opportunity.
Motherhood was the first time my body felt completely my own. When I cut my hair off the first time, I did so without permission the summer before college started. It was decided that I would start college with braids. They were glorious butt length Senegalese twists, I adored them. I still remember walking into the shop in Connecticut and choosing the style. The frustration on the woman's face hours and bags later, when she was only half done. But braids don't last forever, so when it was time to take them down I felt naked, I missed the shelter of those braids. I honestly wasn't sure how this new world would react to this drastic change. I wished I had gotten the chance to present my most authentic self first.
How can we expect young girls to make big decisions when they don't feel affirmed and supported, or even included, in the decisions made about their hair? That included the freedom to imagine/learn about/explore new possibilities. After all, there is nothing permanent about hair, it really does grow back.
I decided to perm what little hair I had and my face broke out. Needless to say it was more than my freshman heart could handle. I clearly was not prepared to make any major decisions about my career path when I couldn't even boldly face the world with the hair I wanted. Half way into sophomore year I was pregnant, I let the wind push me around. I was a girl who did not make bold choices. I was going to have this baby. In this situation both choices are bold, brave, and difficult. I made the one that was right for me.
Push past nine months of turmoil, bravery, and resolve; and I found myself in a bathroom cutting my hair off, coming full circle to that TWA. Exploration outside the confines of what has been presented as acceptable is difficult but shame around my natural hair was unmanageable. For me, my natural hair is a physical manifestation of my intuition and a constant connection to the universe.
Now my hair holds stories, it is a gentle reminder of a battle I eventually won. Understanding that what my body produces is good.
The natural hair war was far from over at this point, but that is a story for another day.