There’s a classic saying by CoCo Chanel, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” And despite it’s overuse, it remains accurate. Most recently we watched Tiffany Haddish cut her hair right off in a move that had fans questioning if the Girl’s Trip actress was suffering a mental breakdown a la Britney Spears in 2007.
Haddish denied anything was wrong with her mental health and posed this question:
“Why when a woman decides, ‘Hey I wanna cut this hair off because I want to see my scalp,’ she gotta have a mental problem?”
Haddish went on to reassure fans nothing was wrong. “I’m not suffering from no emotional sh*t, nothing. I’ve literally been talking about this for years: how I wanna see my scalp. I know every single part of my body; I know where every single mole is…anyone who knows me knows me knows I’ve been talking about this for a long time, OK?” she said during an Instagram Live broadcast.
There’s plenty of Black women who can attest to Tiffany’s desire to get to know herself in a better capacity and the daily struggle of hair maintenance.
“As a black woman, that’s a good hour to three hours of your f—king day. Even if your hair is braided, you gotta grease your scalp, you gotta tie ’em up at night, you gotta make sure they look neat, it’s a lot of work. So, I’m taking time off!” she added.
And she’s right. The pressure to fit into society’s standard of beauty leaves many women holding on to damaged hair simply for the length or bound to the comfort of their weaves.
We caught up with four beautiful Black women who recently made the big chop and got to the bottom of what influenced their decision to change their do. Here’s what they had to say:
I remember growing up and always loving long hair, so throughout the years I accepted that as beauty and I wore weaves on and off for about 6 years. But then that quarantine life set in and you’re so bored you start wondering what the possibilities are! Me and my girls were literally becoming new people during COVID19 — we became about that Black girl magic, self care life. I knew after wearing weaves and wigs while growing my natural hair, it definitely needed a break. So track by track, braid by braid I dismantled this little long hair crown to just live free for a little bit. Oh girl, once I took out my weave my hair had grown but it wasn’t as thick as I wanted it to be, so I had to decide to work with it OR just give my hair and myself a fresh little start, (obviously I chose a fresh start).
I went from wearing 30 inch long weaves to picking up a pair of scissors to cut and shape my new fro and it felt so damn good! Having short hair feels so good! I feel free, light, beautiful. Short hair forces people, and yourself, to look at your face, to appreciate those God given features. Now don’t get me wrong, that doubt of myself and my beauty without long hair does creep in, but I have to remember it’s only hairs for that’ll grow back! I read an article in Essence mag about 17 years ago on a Black woman who went through so many hair changes, as a little girl I knew I could never be confident enough to do what that Black woman was doing. Now I am that Black women. She inspired a little black girl and I hope I can do the same. Inspire without noticing. I don’t even know her name, but I do want to thank her.
With such a difficult year, I struggled finding a place to reset. So many things have been out of my control, but my hair was something I had to take back for myself! During pregnancy and even after I gave birth to my complex baby, I struggled to find myself. I felt buried under my life. Cutting my hair was like removing a layer of myself so I could truly reset.
I moved to Ohio last summer, so I had to find a good barber. I went to King Culture barbershop in Columbus. I booked a hair cut with a barber named Ray. Getting the right barber was important to me because my first chop (back in undergrad) I couldn’t afford a barber and cut my own hair (BAD IDEA). Ray felt I was nervous, but he and the staff made me comfortable and filled me with confidence as I walked to the chair.
As I sat there I cried inside, because I finally knew this was the first part of getting back to myself. I realized at the end of my haircut, it’s not about finding my old self, a journey about growing this new part of myself in a new way. This time I get to choose, I will not be weighed down by what I have been through. I am going to emerge through this experience growing into an even stronger version of myself.
Beyond finding myself, I needed a haircut that would allow me to focus on being the mom I wanted to be. This haircut makes it easier to care for my son and manage his schedule. A lot goes into his care, and I barley have time to even look at my hair!
The main reason I cut my hair was to feel empowered, save money and embark on a fresh start. I recently did a “big chop” in my bathroom (myself) chasing that “empowered” feeling. My hair ended up being four inches of brittleness. I had various curl patterns and it was so hard to retain moisture, especially living under the Texas sun. But I refused to put another relaxer in my hair, especially because it was right before the Black Lives Matter protests went made headlines. What other way to feel like an empowered black woman than having natural hair right?
I’ve never been one to be too attached to a particular style, color or length of hair. As long as it’s healthy and not falling out at the roots, I’m pretty much game for anything. How some are with shoes or clothes, I’m that way with my hair – whatever I’m feeling is how I’m going to project in my style of hair. This COVID-19 thing going on in the world combined with protesting and the killings of our brothers and sisters has been everything except for easy. Not to mention all of us dealing with personal growth, working from home adjustments and emotional and mental adaptations to the world around us – sometimes you feel like you have zero control over anything going on anymore. I’ve learned to really take the reins on the things I can control and shift my focus from those I can’t.
Throughout the past few months, I’ve been really open and honest with the world about my natural hair journey from products I’m trying to be comfortable with wearing my afro and styling it with clip-ins and wigs. For some reason, as my hair was growing and I was becoming more comfortable day-by-day with my physical appearance, I still felt off-balanced. No matter how much I was complimented on my hair or the cute styles I’ve been putting on the ‘gram, I didn’t like the way that stress was impacting my hair and making my edges fall out. My stress of work, friendships, family and negative body-image was now translating into my physical wellbeing and I just wasn’t having that.
When I returned to New York from my mom’s house in North Carolina, my hair was braided into straight backs so I could throw on a few wigs whenever the world needed to see me. I loved my wigs and the ability to switch it up whenever I wanted, but it didn’t feel like me. Last Wednesday night was a very emotionally taxing moment on my mental health for a number of reasons and I just realized that I couldn’t do it anymore. I took my braids out, made an appointment on StyleSeat for the following morning and realized that it had to go. I wanted a do-over and I wanted my hair to reflect who I was personally and aesthetically. I’m someone who likes structure, but also able to go with the flow. I love sneakers, but you can also catch me in a cute heel or bootie. I needed a style that reflected my growth as a person, my new outlook on life and taking control of the love I have for myself and my mental health.