Only Long Natural Hair is Beautiful?

I’ve never been scared of short hair. Some say that’s because I have a “nicely shaped head”. Well, I say it’s because I know hair grows. And while it plays a big part, hair isn’t the be all or end all of my beauty. I’ll always vote for healthy hair over long hair. Always. That’s really what made me jump into natural hair to begin with; my scraggly (but long) relaxed hair was, well, scraggly. Even though I announced my decision to big chop again only a little while before I did, I had actually started thinking about it for awhile before. I posted a very detailed post about why I decided to do it. Holding on to my hair didn’t make sense to me. It needed extra care that I wasn’t willing nor able to give it at this point in my life. I feel like I let go of something that I didn’t have the time to respect and give the TLC it needed. I have a lot of things going on and I need my life to grow. As that happens, other things need to adjust as well.

While I’ve had great feedback and support on my big chop, others are still shocked and sad that I went through with it, asking me regularly why I did it. Granted, maybe if you hadn’t seen the blog post or my Instagram and Facebook posts leading up to the chop, you’d have been shocked by the actual big chop reveal photo. Some told me they cried, and made it seem as though that was it for my natural hair journey. It really made me think about why we, especially we as Black women, place such an importance and admiration on long hair. Not that long hair isn’t nice but it’s not for everyone, and not all the time. I’ve received emails and comments that’ve expressed disappointment and I’ve had followers unfollow me, making it sound as though my hair journey has ended. My question is always, I would’ve grown my hair until when? It would have broken, and then what? It would’ve continued shedding, then what? Yes, others in my situation of post-partum shedding make the decision to take care of their hair and nurse it back to health. But I didn’t want to. Who’s to say the shedding would’ve gotten better right away? I know my hair grows. Hair grows, as simple as that. Whether it’s 1 inch a year or 6 inches a year, it’ll grow. If I want it to. And until then, if you want long hair as a change, slap on a wig, braid or a weave. “Your hair was so beautiful!” Isn’t it still now? Can it not be beautiful short? Why have we placed such worth on long hair?

I’ve spoken to many beautiful women with long natural hair who’ve told me they wish they could cut their hair, like I did. I’ve been told that I’m brave for cutting ‘all that hair’. I always ask, why don’t you? What’s holding you back? At the point when I made my decision, my hair was starting to come out in clumps because of post partum shedding. Why hold on to it, why the stress? We give away old clothes, food, a whole bunch of things we don’t need or recognise that others need more than we do. Yet, we’re hanging on to our scraggly hair? It’s one thing when it’s healthy and you like it. Great. But that wasn’t the case with me last year.

After I big chopped, a friend of mine called me in disbelief. Even though I kept telling her for months “I’m going to cut my hair…” she was still shocked and admitted to me she didn’t think I’d go through with it. She’s had dreadlocks for about 10 years and she’s never cut them. She recently joined the gym and has come to the realisation it was difficult for her to maintain her own hair as she was always relying on her stylist to refresh and put it away in a style. She said there was something freeing about the fact that I let go of my hair. It inspired her to really think about hers. She’s kept it long, even though it doesn’t really work for her and because other people tell her not to cut it. We place such value and awe on long hair, it’s like we forget that other kinds of hair are also beautiful. And long hair might not be for everyone and their lifestyle. I mean, how boring would the world be if everyone had long hair? And not to say I won’t be growing my hair out again. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, who knows? Life is too short. I’m 31 years old, I wanted to cut my hair. So I did.

My conversation with my friend ended with her saying she felt like she’s a hostage to her hair. It described exactly how I was feeling. For what reason? I have something in my life that I deem is worth more of my time and energy than my hair right now. I’m glad I did it. I feel free. I don’t have to sit for two hours shampooing, detangling, deep conditioning my hair on wash day. That’s two extra hours every week that I can now allocate to something else. I don’t have to spend several hours to put my hair into cornrows to wear under my wig. I wake up, I palm roll and I go. Done. And if I want to change it up, I have my wigs that I can just slap on if I feel like something different. I love the versatility it’s given me. I love the time it’s freed up.

I said on @Afromoriri’s IG page (when it was asked why a few local hair bloggers were chopping their hair) that once you reach a goal, you have to set a new one right? You’ve reached it – check. Now challenge yourself to something else. Experience something else. Who’s to say that the natural hair journey has an end goal? Goals change. In the beginning of 2016, I aimed to grow my hair longer and I reached bra strap length at the end of the year. I would’ve had to cut it at some point right? I wasn’t about to try and grow it to waist length! Because with that comes its own challenges, all of which I wasn’t ready to face. So 5 years ago, I had a long(ish) relaxed hair. And I cut it to go natural, to challenge myself, to learn to care for my hair in its natural state. But most of my friends and family whom I told at that time were completely against it. “But your hair is long, why are you going to cut it?” And if I’d listened to those people, I wouldn’t be natural today. I’d be struggling with my relaxed hair and constantly battling within myself and asking why I have kept my relaxed hair as opposed to this beautiful experience that I have gone through, that I’m currently going through.

My point is, just because I cut my hair doesn’t mean you can’t draw inspiration from my journey anymore. My journey has ups and downs. It’s short, it’s long, it’s curly, it’s dry, it’s thick, it’s shedding as I’m sure yours does too. Please don’t think that just because I big chopped it means that I’m going to stop loving my natural hair or that I’m going to stop sharing my journey with you. Because it is a journey. Not an end point. It’s not an end point. So, live. Please just live. Let’s stop being hostages to our hair.

So I hope you’re not feeling let down or disappointed. Just because I don’t have long hair now, this minute, doesn’t mean I didn’t before. It doesn’t mean you can’t find inspiration from my previous blog posts. My content is still here, my video tutorials are still there. I don’t have to currently have long hair for you to possibly be inspired by my story. Let’s enjoy it; short, long, medium, TWA, kinky, curly, bushy. It’s all natural.

And it’s all good.

Do you feel like you’re a hostage to your hair? What’s stopping you from big chopping or changing it up?

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15 Comments

  1. August 4, 2017 / 11:58 am

    Nice hair cut Aisha and short hair really suits you. This is the second blog of yours, I have read and you write amazing and the way you explain the things are really creative. :). I am totally impressed with your articles now.

    Wants to read more of your articles.

    Regards
    Annie.S

  2. EnoAbena
    July 28, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    You said it Aisha! I love your haircut too, I’ve been thinking about cutting my hair for awhile now and yours is going on my vision board.
    Interestingly all but one person has told me not to cut my hair whenever I’ve mentioned it (to prepare them for the big chop). It’s as if I’ll be less attractive with less hair or they’re more concerned than I am about how I’ll look LOL We’re too hung up on hair length as black women and I’m really glad you wrote this article.

  3. EnoAbena
    July 28, 2017 / 6:06 pm

    You said it Aisha! I love your haircut too, I’ve been thinking about cutting my hair for awhile now and yours is going on my vision board.
    Interestingly all but one person has told me not to cut my hair whenever I’ve mentioned it (to prepare them for the big chop). It’s as if I’ll be less attractive with less hair or they’re more concerned than I am about how I’ll look LOL
    We’re too hung up on hair length as black women and I’m really glad you wrote this article.

  4. Mbinze
    April 30, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    Girl, preach. I have finally developed a regimen that’s working great in keeping my hair healthy all the time. I’ve been thinking for a while about getting a tapered haircut as a strong foundation for overall thickness. Those whom I tell so say, “Eww! Why?” And I simply reply, “Common, it’s just hair. It’ll grow.” I almost feel a slap coming my way. It’s unfortunate how non-knowledgeable these women are about healthy hair. To many, long hair is ideal for beauty, even if it’s left with split ends that can prick the skin like thorns. I believe that those of us who are comfortable with ourselves are able to handle bias.

    • Aisha O
      May 16, 2017 / 6:16 pm

      I say just go for it, if you want to, do it. Because as soon as you tell others they’ll just impose their insecurities on you. I mean, it’s YOUR hair!! We need to let go and embrace all lengths, textures, styles! Do you. Thanks for weighing in Mbinze 😉

  5. Milly
    March 25, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    I love it. I want to cut my hair in the next couple of years as a birthday present to myself. I’m still growing out my hair, and for now letting it I show me to what lengths it will grow, though I won’t lie sometimes I do feel the heart palpitations at losing length. I recently got a trim by a great hairdresser, which even I knew I really needed cause my ends were all type of problematic. Though I did catch myself really wanting to hold on to the extra length it provided, and afterwards I wasn’t likely how “short” (it really isn’t short at all) my hair was. And this was not the case of a scissor happy hairdresser, it was my own need to keep onto the length that I had. But today I woke up and my hair was super stretched and looking fly, but I just felt like I wanted my natural shrinkage to pop so I let the steam get to it and love how it looks. The shrinkage is real, but loving the freedom of the short hair look. This is a long way of saying that your post resonates with me. Short hair is it’s own beauty, and you do indeed look beautiful.

    • Aisha O
      March 29, 2017 / 4:47 pm

      Thanks Milly. I love that idea of a birthday haircut – set yourself freeeeee!

  6. sara mwaniki
    March 21, 2017 / 4:47 pm

    Hi Aisha. I totally absolutely support and think you look absolutely fabulous with the new cut. I’ve actually met you once in TZ at glam madam’s bridal shop once (am kenyan….nafue’s my very good friend)..and you’ve been my #hairgoals #inspiration for about 6years now. Ive followed your journey from wayyyyyy back and you inspired me to chop my hair BOTH times. Ok am not exactly a fanatic i just find you very relatable, practical and needless to say i am an avid reader and follower of your blog and IG page. Anywho, you’ve inspired me to do things (with my hair) that i NEVER EVER thought i would ever do. i had my second big chop Feb 11th after wearing and painstakingly going thru a length chase for 4years. And like yourself, i have a lot going on and i simply evolved to the thought that my hair needs to work FOR me not me for IT. Now i had ‘mental’ challenges/ inhibitions…by mental i mean, we east african girls (more so kikuyu girls) tend to have foreheads (in school i was bullied by this boy who once said i need extra water than everyone else to clean my face…coz it extends to….i digress), so i imagines i would never look good in short hair or even them funky tapered cuts like your. But one day after seeing you, accumulated thoughts of the freedom of not being enslaved by hair and what to do with it every single week, i told my salonist- chop it. Everytime i look at your pages, i am like- she looks amaze. and even though i live in a conservative community who believe a woman’s beauty is her hair, i think- these folks are in the 70’s mindset. snap..i look like the girl on the internet (ie you…and other fab ladies). SO!!!!!! you rock! and keep doing you and thereby inspiring others.

    • Aisha O
      March 23, 2017 / 12:28 pm

      Hey Sara, thanks so much for your words. I really appreciate the support. If Black girls could blush, I’d be doing so now hahaha. It’s never easy going against the grain and by pure fact that we’re natural, it’s already something. Now to rock it short and be confident with it, I guess it leaves people uncomfortable.

  7. March 21, 2017 / 1:21 am

    Oh gawsh, people need to calm down. It’s not their hair. I can understand being shocked, but actually commenting and emailing to express disappointment and displeasure? Nah, that is totally unnecessary.

    I’ve threatened to cut my hair for years or get locs, but hubby is against it, and if I’m being honest, I worry about having to start over. We’ll see.

    • Aisha O
      March 23, 2017 / 12:20 pm

      Berry! Happy to hear from you 🙂 Thanks for weighing in. The thing is, once you think/threaten to cut your hair, it’s like an itch. It only goes away when you scratch it lol. And cutting doesn’t necessarily need to be as drastic as a shaved cut, even if you cut it into a style, it’ll change things up.

  8. SSS
    March 17, 2017 / 11:19 pm

    I must admit I was one of the people who was opposed to your big chop. Even though I never commented because 1) I didn’t feel like it was my place to chip in and 2) I avoid bringing negativity into other people’s pages, even if it’s not meant to be harmful. I struggled for a long time to find SAfrican natural hair bloggers that I could relate to and get guidance from and was so excited when I discovered you on social media. So your big chop somewhat felt like a loss to me. However, after reading this blog I see your point of view and you’re right, there’s more to hair than just length. The irony is this blog was enlightening even though your hair is shorter. I guess we live and we learn.
    Stay slaying.

    • Aisha O
      March 23, 2017 / 12:17 pm

      I really appreciate your honesty and I’m glad you saw the other side. That’s pretty much all I wanted this post to do, see natural in all of its beauty, not just in its length. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  9. March 17, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    Aisha, I am disappointed you’ve had to explain yourself! To me it made absolutely sense. You took time off from the blog to get used to your new life. As a new parent (I don’t like saying new mom as fathers have to adjust too) there’s still more things you will say no to, at least for now until you get the hang of things.

    Natural African hair is about strength and health and very little about length. Love it my dear! And you still inspire most of us. I’ve been natural for 3years now and you were part of that. Kisses to you.

    • Aisha O
      March 23, 2017 / 12:12 pm

      Hey Thembeka, thanks so much for your comment. It always helps to know that there are people like you who get it! Others don’t and haven’t and that’s how it is I guess. Kisses right back at ya x

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