The Cut Life

Growing up, I always wanted long hair, waist length to be exact. Unfortunately, my hair never grew that long or that fast even. Before I went natural, my hair was about armpit length, and even after 4 years of being natural, my hair is barely armpit length. I never did the big chop when I decided to go natural, I transitioned because I wanted to retain some type of length so all I did was trim my hair between washes until all the damaged hair was gone. While on my natural hair journey I have come to love my hair, regardless of its length (or so I thought). I love my curls and the fullness of my hair. However, I have come to a point in my journey where I believe I need a change. I will honestly say that my hair growth has been stunted for the past year and a half almost.

I have always been afraid of cutting my hair because I’m not sure if the look will fit me. I’ve been proclaiming for over a year that I will cut my hair but I always convince myself not to do it, and everyone always tells me “You have good hair, don’t cut it,” but they don’t know my personal struggle.

Ironically it seems that everyone around me has just been chopping their hair off and enjoying life, and they make it look so easy. A couple months ago, I came across this page on Instagram called The Cut Life (@thecutlife) and I was instantly inspired. They also have a website (http://livethecutlife.com/) and what they’re all about as they have said is promoting “a lifestyle space for stunners with short hair”. I think that is really amazing and beautiful, encouraging females to embrace their short hair. I want to believe that there is a story behind every cut. Also, no cut is exactly the same as another, each cut is unique to the individual and that’s what really caught my attention.

I think I’m starting to fall out of love with my hair, I spend more time being dissatisfied with its length than admiring everything else about it, so I think it’s time to re-write this love story. Yes! I will soon be cutting ALL of my hair off, and hopefully falling in love with it all over again regardless of its length.

I want to thank The Cut Life for creating such a warm atmosphere for young women to love and embrace their short hair. I also want to specially thank two young ladies I personally know for inspiring me as well. Below are their stories, please read them. Maybe you’ve found yourself to be in a position similar to mine or maybe you just want to try something new, I hope they inspire you to go for it! The truth of the matter is, its hair! Long or short, it will grow back. It may take you longer than it takes the next person but no two stories are the same.

 

Meet Janai Kiristen (Instagram: @janaikristen  Youtube: JanaiKristen)

“Okay so first, I big chopped because my ends were so dead from dying my hair so much. Honestly, I never intended to go natural, but then I kept cutting my hair shorter and shorter because I’ve always wanted hair that was very short but I was always scared. Then I ended up cutting it because I got more confident as time went on and going shorter and shorter as opposed to cutting it all off was easier. Now I keep it short because it’s different and eye  catching and not many people can pull it off. Pretty much, short hair just makes me feel bold and it’s really a confidence booster once you stop caring about what people think of it/you when they see your hair.”

 

 

Meet Eunice Abimah (Instagram: @emefa_)

“April-June were the hardest months for me to get through this year. I went through a lot of stress and pain. I was lost in every way a person could possibly be lost. I felt alone, rejected, unloved, unnoticed, betrayed, and I was angry as hell. With nowhere else to turn to, I started this journey with God, and as the days went by, I grew closer and closer to him. I began to hear his voice literally and understand who he truly is. I began to experience his love by being put in situations where I would see it clearly. So, all the time that I felt alone and rejected, unloved and isolated, God was there with me. He was the only one who truly understood what I was going through, and he has shown me a love that is incomprehensible. When people I called my friends turned their backs on me, God hugged me, comforted me and showed me that everything I needed was in Him. Then one day, I decided I wanted to cut my hair… it really just came out of the blue and I became so pressed to cut it the next day. When I cut my hair, I became a new person. I feel more confident in myself and in the way I look now, more than ever. I know it sounds cliché but after all I’ve been through, cutting my hair made me feel like I cut off all the dead ends in my life, all the hurt and the old habits and here I am… a new creation! Glory be to my Father.”

 

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Is Natural Hair for Everyone?

I know some, or most of you, may look around and ask yourself, “What do you mean is natural hair for everyone? As black women, then it’s definitely for us!” And I get where you’re coming from, I do. You would think, being black women, natural hair is part of our heritage, part of who we are.

Having been relaxer and chemical free for almost seven years now, I can say that I’ve had my share of natural hair experiences with myself and those around me. And with that being said, I can truthfully say that natural hair isn’t for everyone. And I know it sounds bad, but it’s not meant to be taken in the way that you think.

There have been countless posts on Twitter with certain “naturalistas” insisting that girls ditch the creamy crack and learn to love their coils. But I agree with those relaxed women when they say that the natural life, though it’s something that could come with little to no effort, may not be for everyone. And that’s perfectly fine.

Many, if not most of us, have all dealt with relaxed hair; including weaves. To go from something that you run the flat iron through or wrap up in literally 45 seconds at night, to carving out an hour or two every night for a few flat twists, isn’t comfortable for all black women.

I hope no one thought going from relaxed hair to natural hair would be a piece of cake. I mean, you learn as you go, but the beginning can be trying. Once you transition, you begin dealing with two different hair textures; and one of them you’re seemingly unfamiliar with.

Some decide to skip the transitioning stage altogether and jump straight into the “big chop,” but no matter the route you’re still bound to run into issues. But it’s nothing you can’t get past with a little coconut oil and some patience.

Mental preparation is the only thing that comes to mind when I think of working with natural hair. If you’ve been conditioned to deal with relaxed hair, you may not be as eager to work with the unfamiliar curly stuff growing out behind it. And if you decided to big chop, you have to instantly adapt to the natural hair that took the place of those straight ends.

Some women aren’t willing to take the time and energy that comes with it, so they fail and go back to what they know. And there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. It just means that if you’re only willing to be natural when you can cover it with a weave, then it may not be for you.

Now that I’ve gotten more into it, I don’t think that “natural hair isn’t for everyone,” but more so not everyone is ready to adapt to their natural hair. And that’s OK. The journey is a beautiful one; even the days when you have no idea what you’re doing or if your hair is even growing.

For most, it’s a physical change, but for me, it was something within. It was a new confidence, something that I needed. Whether you’re loving the creamy crack or relishing in your newfound love for your curls, enjoy what makes you happy.

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The Never Ending Roller-Coaster: My Natural Hair Journey

Where do I begin? Who possessed my mother into putting classic Alkaline and Ammonium Thioglycolate, also known as, perm onto my 3c/4b coily curls?

When I was younger, my hair was shaped into a Jackson 5 Afro but was always in two pigtails styled in twists or the good old fashioned hot comb straightened hair with grease sizzled edges. I used to be a dancer so my mother had to figure out a way to make my hair more manageable and easy to detangle.

When I was around the age of 6-7, my mother took me to a hair salon where they gave me my first perm and boy oh boy, did it burn. The pain of the perm made me want to shed more than a few tears. Prior to getting this perm, I would constantly scratch my scalp which will create scars on the scalp and extreme burning sensations. As I’m typing this blog, I’m sort of envisioning the pain I felt back then.

I continued perming my hair until I was in 7th grade. I decided to transition from permed to natural because during this time my mother was also transitioning so she stopped taking me to the salons for touch-ups every month and once I started to try and take care of my hair I  noticed a difference in textures and I completely fell in love.

During the time of transitioning, I would constantly get blow outs from the Dominican hair salons or I would get box braids, twists, or two french braids with added hair. Throughout this process it was very important for me to at least get a trim every month just to let go of all of the permed ends. 

I wasn’t alone throughout this process. My mother also had a perm and was beginning to transition so for the emotional aspect of transitioning, she understood my frustration with my hair. I honestly had to learn a great deal of patience and I’m glad I did.

Once I reached my freshman year of high-school, I asked my mother if I can get my first real cut and I went from having long permed hair to a Dora like bob cut with bangs that were too hideous and embarrassing to even re-visit. By my sophomore year, my hair grew out and I was fully natural. Not a perm in sight but then I did another dangerous thing to my hair, can you guess what I did? Yup. That’s right, I bleached it. I bleached my entire head a platinum blonde and I thought I was killing the game. I ended up killing my curls, again.

I got tired of putting my hair through so much stress during all four years of high school and dying it from blonde to red, then red to brown, then brown to jet black and now back to purple, I knew I had to make a change. I promised myself that I would nurture my hair once I graduated.

My freshman year of college came and I cut my hair into a brown bob. I would constantly straighten it which also does damage to your curls so I began wearing weaves and trying to keep heat out of my hair. Yes, it is hard. I gave into temptation many of times for the first two years of college but I knew it was time to let it go.

I am now a Junior in college and prior to becoming a junior, I shaved my hair all off as a fresh start. Chopping my hair off is not only a physical growth spurt for me but also is helping me grow emotionally. I am learning to love natural hair and I have a long ways to go as far as my curls prospering. It’s a journey. A journey to acceptance and self-love.

 

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Am I Wasting My Time Living Through the TWA Phase?

What is a TWA?

For those of you who don’t know, TWA stands for “Teeny Weeny Afro.” It normally describes natural hair that is about ½ to 1-inch long, typically describing the post “big chop” style. This is normally the most annoying stage for most naturals because you can’t really do anything with it. It’s kind of just there. But that doesn’t mean it’s pointless or as plain as it sounds.

The biggest question that I’ve gotten would have to be, “how long does the TWA stage last?” Honestly, there’s no set time frame on how long you’ll have to withstand the TWA, but you can definitely have some fun with it! The most common time frame for TWA’s is anywhere from 1-2 years, maybe. I know that sounds like forever, but it goes by faster than you think. And when you’re dealing with the dreaded shrinkage, it may feel like you’re still in the TWA phase when in fact your shrinkage doesn’t reflect your hair’s true length.

The TWA phase can be a tedious one. Your hair is just starting to come into its own, and as it’s adapting, your hair continues to grow, your curl pattern can change as well, and sometimes that can mean different struggles and new findings when it comes to styling your new TWA. Some do absolutely nothing and just let their hair do its thing, some try their hand at a two-strand twist-out.

I know exactly what that feels like. For the first year or so of my TWA, I didn’t know what to do. I had previously become so used to styling my hair on an everyday basis, so when this came along I didn’t know how to not style it. I couldn’t style it! I barely had two inches of hair. That didn’t stop me from trying though.

My advice to anyone thinking of big chopping, or maybe you already have, just have fun. Don’t grow accustomed to one look or one curl pattern, because believe me, you’ll get used to seeing and styling a certain texture or curl pattern and then you’ll wake up one day with something completely different. A new struggle. Don’t let this discourage you because it can be a lot of fun…it IS a lot of fun. But it takes your patience to new levels for sure.

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Drop the Scissors: Alternatives to the Big Chop

Three years ago, after my failed attempt and short lived experience going natural, I decided to give it another try. I watched Youtube video after Youtube video, read blog after blog, and was sure this time I was ready. But seven months after my last perm and four months into my natural hair journey, I was over it.

I started out well with braid outs and twistouts, (braidouts were my favorite) but as my new curls grew in, my styles would not look as nice anymore because of my stringy, straight ends. On top of that, my hair was shedding by the pounds. I was not sure if it was due to the stress I had senior year or if this is what vloggers warned me of. I am talking about the infamous demarcation line.

Whatever it was, I was sick of transitioning. I wanted to be fully natural already, but I was not ready for the big chop. And for the ladies reading this blog who are finding themselves in the same position I was in, I have a few words of advice that may help ease your natural hair journey.

Instead of going for the big chop and heading straight for the TWA, I decided to do a mini chop, multiple ones. As scared as I was, I got the scissors and handed them over to my sister (there was no way I could trust myself) and she cut about 1/3 of my relaxed hair into the trash bin. The next day I got braids for the first time. I was not used the heaviness of it on my neck but I got used to it. I left them in for a tad bit too long, but when I took my braids out in March, I could not believe how long my hair was. It made me wish I just went for the TWA instead.

After taking out my braids, I worked with a bun for a few weeks. Soon it was time for prom. At that point, I cut off what I thought was the last of my perm and had a weave installed. I had leave out, not realizing that I would have to re-straighten it every, single, day, but I made it work. I left my weave in for graduation and then tossed it. I realized I still had a few relaxed ends leftover. I cut those off and had braids put in one last time for the summer, which resulted in my hair growing incredibly once again. I straightened it in August for my sister’s wedding and a year and a month later my hair was down to my shoulders.

So rather than doing the big chop, I chose the mini chop instead. Thanks to protective styles, I was able to maximize moisture and retain length throughout the entire process.

For ladies who are not ready to go for the big chop all at once, I definitely encourage you all to take it step by step, cut little by little, or in increments. If all else fails, remember, it is just hair. It will always grow back.

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LaToya’s Natural Hair Journey

In November of 2013 I received my last relaxer. I did not realize it would be my last until a feeling of guilt came over me as my hair dresser applied the chemical to the very intriguing waves that had started springing out of my scalp. I felt bad for my natural roots. I felt like I was denying them or like I wasn’t giving them a chance.

As I sat in that chair I decided that it would be my last relaxer. I was going to give the “natural” thing I try. Mind you, before I made this decision, I was that girl that declared I would never go natural and would continue to use relaxers until they stopped manufacturing them.

My relaxed hair: Dec. 2013
My relaxed hair: Dec. 2013

I had a negative opinion of my natural hair because I didn’t like my hair when I was younger. I didn’t understand why it didn’t lay flat like the other girls in school. I guess I felt too different. I viewed my hair as ugly and not beautiful. When I was in 7th grade my mom allowed me to get a relaxer. I continued to relax my hair up until my sophomore year of college, November of 2013.

I decided that I would transition instead of doing the BIG CHOP. I wasn’t comfortable with having super short hair. My plan was to transition for two years but just after the one year mark, it became too difficult for me. I was wearing weaves or braids throughout the majority of my transition, but I became tired of that. I wanted to have my own hair out. I wanted to feel my own scalp.

So around the year and four months mark I tried to wear my hair out, but it just did not look right. My roots were super thick and my ends were pretty much see-through. It was not a cute look. So I decided when the semester came to an end, I would do my big chop, or transitioning chop, and I would finally be completely natural.

Leading up to the day, I was really excited but super nervous. I did not know how I was going to look with shorter hair. I had no idea what my hair texture would be, but I was determined to learn to love it.

In May of 2015, I invited some friends over and we had a Transitioning Chop Party! I ordered pizza and we played music. I think this was the best way for me to shake my nerves and to celebrate this turning point in my life.

Before big chop vs. after big chop
Before big chop vs. after big chop

And it turns out, I loved my hair! I was so surprised to see curls on my head. I had no idea that my hair was curly. It’s weird to think you’re 21 years old, and you are just discovering what your hair looks like.

That’s why I think this natural hair movement is so important. Although everyone has the right to wear their hair in a way that makes them feel beautiful and confident, I think it is important that we all learn to love and embrace the hair we were born with. There is only one you and we are all unique in our own way. So embrace every part of you.

It has been 5 months since my big chop and I can still say that I love my hair. My hair is not like anyone else. My curls are just for me and I love them!

Photo by Siu's View. www.siusview.com.
Photo by Siu’s View. www.siusview.com.

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Meet The Interns: Kiana Ward

Hello! I am Kiana Ward, a current student at North Carolina A&T State University and I am expected to graduate in the year of 2018. I went natural January 2nd, 2014, and I big chopped.

My deciding factor on going natural was that I just wanted healthier and more even textured hair. I had grown tired of the straight ends and the breakage and I just needed something different. Still today, my perception of myself varies depending on my social group. Some like my curls and others do not. When I receive compliments on my curls, I love them. When there’s criticism, I find myself trying to change my look. I have definitely experienced a difference in treatment since going natural…especially with the guys. But I enjoy my hair either way. It’s mine!

My favorite part of my hair routine would have to be deep conditioning. I love the feeling after you’ve detangled and shampooed. It is amazing. My top three hair products would be Coconut Oil (any brand, honestly),Aquage Seaextend Ultimate Colorcare with Thermal-V Strengthening Conditioner, 16 Ounce( love it! live by it), and Shop CurlyInCollege© – Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Original Leave-In Moisturizer for Unisex, 8 Ounce.

My top three hair tool…I don’t really use any tools. However, I do use my paddle brush whenever I wear my hair in a bun. Bob Pins are very useful also.

My #MCM has been and will always be A$AP Rocky, and my #WCW is the beautiful Jade Kendle from Youtube. I love you guysss.

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