One thing is true when you approach 40 years of age – you’re all about making life simple. For me, it started with my hair. So a few years ago, I made the decision to cut my hair short and let it grow natural. Let me emphasize, really short. And let me further emphasize that for any woman, this is a major step. Recession or no, Ms. Clairol and Dark and Lovely will never go broke.
I’d like to add that short, natural hair probably wouldn’t be a big deal in major cities like Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago. However, it posed a slight problem living here in the South and the Bible Belt where hair is considered a woman’s glory. I kept thinking, what would people say? What would be their reactions? I had to prepare my heart. I had to get ready mentally for how people were going react. But how? How would I cope? Then it came to me – find the funny. That’s how I would cope.
After a year of going back and forth, the day came for me to get my hair cut. I made an early hair appointment before work. It was a Friday. I had previously informed my beautician of the style I wanted. I remember how she laughed and said that I would chicken out. But there I was, sitting in her chair. She had cut the sides and back down to the appropriate length and was now holding a long tuft of hair at the top of my head. She reminded me that she could still “save” my hair by perming or straightening the rest because once she’d cut the last section that was it. Now, it was OK that she wanted to double-check, but why was she about to cry? And why did I become so choked up right after? Swallowing the lump in my throat, I quickly told her to cut it off.
I would like to say that I immediately felt free as a bird but that would not be the total truth. Yes, I felt an instant sense of freedom of sorts but confidence came with practice and humor. For instance, one Sunday while at my religious services I spied Ol’ Sister Ms. Thang and Sister Shut Yo’ Mouth tipping toward me. Before I could escape, I heard one of them exclaim, “Gurl, look at cho’ head!” Then before I could turn around, the other says, “Yeah chile, dats a shame!” Meanwhile, I noticed Sister Ms. Thang was wearing a bone-straight nylon wig and Sister Shut Yo’ Mouth’s got on two, count ‘em, two weaves – one in the front and one in the back! Now that was funny. And I did laugh too. Right in front of them – even though I don’t think they knew what my private joke really was. As I walked away, I was tickled with myself. How proud I was of my reaction and how silly I felt remembering my fear.
Some of my other female counterparts even intimated that very short hair is not attractive, which is really code for – you will never find a man with your short, nappy hur – dat’s right, hur. Okay, but isn’t it funny that even some of us who have long hair are still alone or have marital problems? Let’s even turn to fairy tales. For example, in Rapunzel, a maiden of the same name had hair so long she would throw it down and use it as a ladder to let people up. One day a handsome prince ascends up her hair into the room to where she is and they fall deeply in love. A short time after, a witch finds out about their love affair. She gives Rapunzel a beat down, cuts off her hair, and throws her out of her own house. When the Prince comes back, the witch gives him the what-for as well. She’s got him so shook that he jumps out of the window into the thorns below. Although blinded, he survives. He stumbles around until he finds Rapunzel, who is broke, busted and bald- headed. And this, of all times, when Rapunzel is hairless, is when the fable states those familiar words…“and they lived happily every after.” Yep, she was finally free. Now ain’t that funny.
When I made this attitude change it seemed to start a chain reaction to simplicity and peacefulness which permeated into my life in small and large ways. I began to rethink the way I did a lot of things. How can I get this done without the same stressful fight as before? Had to talk to my boss? Plan what to say and come armed with a solution. Instead of having that showdown with my family when they mooch my vacation time, schedule time with them beforehand so I can still have my me time.
And as far as aesthetics, I feel that I am still attractive. I remember I had to run an errand for my boss one day. It required me to go downtown. In our downtown area, we have a trolley system so I caught one to get to my destination. When I stepped off the train wearing my fitted jeans, my leather boots, crisp cotton shirt, and sweater coat, I got as many flirtatious looks and hellos as when I had longer hair. One man even said, “You look so nice, so natural.” Well, I said to myself, I guess length doesn’t matter.
So, in the end, I completely love my hair. And yes, I know that neither short nor long hair is better. That either way, hair only attracts. It does not please, maintain, or sustain any relationship. We are powerful and womanly in spite of it, because of it, and certainly loving it all the same. Hair is just one of our glories as a woman whether bottle-blond, bone-straight down our backs, or kinky to the scalp.
Ciao, my peoples…