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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Starting From the Bottom: Transitioning to Natural Hair

Let’s rewind back to 2009. If you would have asked me if I would ever get a relaxer and big chop again after my first time going natural, I would have scoffed, rolled my eyes and replied with a simple, “never!” Here I am, 5 years later, natural for the second time: short hair, a good amount of products and confused by the follicles growing out of my scalp. Surely by now I should be used to this but I’m not. Last September I made the decision to relax my hair with the desire for something new and the need to start all over again. I loved it. My hair was straight and flowy as I twirled my signature flip in constantly with a hair straightener. I felt sassier than ever.  As the months went by, my relaxed strands became dull and my natural hair more prevalent. “Oh yeah,” I remember thinking, “my real hair!” After 10 short months of transitioning, my scissor happy hands found themselves snipping away at my color-damaged orange and brown strands 10 minutes before I had to leave for work. What on earth was I doing? If you were to ask me this question every time I did something with my hair I would probably tell you the same thing each time: I have absolutely no idea.”

Starting over is difficult. When I first started to cut my hair for the second time, I was terrified and immediately stopped after snipping off a small section. However, my desire to start over was overwhelming. My relaxed hair was nothing but a memory of all the hurt and difficulty I encountered in my sophomore year and since my junior year was only weeks ago, I told myself that it is only right that I start new with no attachments. So for the second time, I started over.

My second cut may not have been as drastic as my first cut back in 2009 but I am going through the same struggles that I once faced. Seeing myself as beautiful, working out which styles I can do with my hair (I may be African but my braiding skills are not the best) and playing with products and figuring out how to maintain moisturized strands. Coupled with my hectic life schedule and school load, returning to natural again is a lot more difficult than I initially imagined. But day by day, I am getting through it. I am becoming more accustomed to what my hair likes and what is a recipe for a disaster.  Remembering what I once did and finding out new tips and tricks have led me to a place where I am more comfortable with my hair.  I definitely won’t  be returning to my pastime favorite of playing with hair colors. My accumulated damage is what led me to start all over. Instead, I want nothing less than healthy, happy virgin hair that I can grow out to my goal length and more importantly, enjoy! However, hair is an accessory after all and I will still be experimenting with some natural dyes and treatments. I hope that you all can join me on this roller-coaster ride of ups and downs as I ride towards my hair goal of waist length. Stay tuned to my posts on CurlyinCollege  and follow me on my personal networks if you want to see more of me! I am a golden unicorn of magic so expect to see a lot of me!

XOXO-Ivie

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