Cutting My Hair
y only regret so far has been taking so long to finally chop it all off.
I've spent so much of my life nurturing the loving and sometimes toxic relationship that I've held with my hair. For years, so much of my identity was tied to my hair. My hair was my happy place - which is odd when you consider hair not being a place but rather a living thing that sits atop one's head.
So when I was diagnosed with alopecia areata in 2017, I had to develop a new relationship with my hair. I remember the night I realized I had lost a patch of it. I was sitting on my bed in my tiny DC studio casually running my own fingers through my natural coils when suddenly I felt skin. I suppose you could say that's a normal feeling, however, the problem was that I felt too much skin. So much that I was at first in denial. I thought maybe some of my hair had laid down and that I was imagining the sensation under my finger tips. I ran my fingers over the spot again and realized what I had felt was indeed a bald spot. I quickly grabbed my phone, turned on the front-facing camera and snapped a photo of the spot.
I was literally in disbelief.
Instantly, I sent the photo to my dad, a licensed cosmetologist who had done hair well before the concept of 'April' was even a thing. I called him shortly after to inquire what had gone wrong. He had asked if I had been stressed or wearing anything that was applying stress to my scalp. I couldn't recall a moment where either was the case. I was natural. I had worn wigs upon wigs for months as I had previously big-chopped and my hair wasn't long enough for braids. He had hinted towards alopecia given that he had seen similar cases with past clients. I contacted my boyfriend shortly after who had relocated to Los Angeles a month or so prior. He suggested I follow up with his best friend who fortunately is a dermatologist.
Unfortunately, his best friend was out of town. Instead, he got me an appointment at his facility with two other doctors. After having these 2 white men look and look some more at my scalp, it was confirmed that the patchy area was attributed to alopecia areata. Listening to these men try their best to be politically correct and not racist while giving the potential reasons as to why it had happened and what I could no longer do to my hair was on the border of cringeworthy and saddening. I had spent years doing all sorts of craziness to my hair. Within minutes I was told that I could no longer chemically treat my hair and to also avoid tight braids. I felt stuck being natural.
And don't get me wrong. Being natural is beautiful. However, adding yet another issue to my life that wouldn't go away with modern medicine sucked (I'm asthmatic and bipolar btw). Oh yea, the doctors told me that there was no cure for alopecia areata. The best they could do was give me steroid injections into my scalp and that for the rest of my life, I could continue to lose patches of hair essentially any place where hair grows on my body.
To make a long story short, the steroid injections worked but every so often, I begin to lose a patch on my scalp. I've gotten used to it by now and have fortunately grown to not being so attached to my hair. But seriously, why can't I lose the hair somewhere that really doesn't matter?
I went against doctors orders because I'm human and went on to get a relaxer 2 years later. I missed the feeling of going to the salon and getting my hair done. Doing twist-outs had become a chore and I just ain't have the time to blend my lace fronts with my skin. So, I got a relaxer - and I was gorgeous. Well actually, I first straightened my natural hair with a hot-comb and flat-iron to check for length and then I got a relaxer after my own self-validation.
Once the quarantine hit and I had to go 3 months without a relaxer, my natural hair started to take over. I had so much crazy new growth (yay) but a ton of breakage (boo). I remember sitting on the bathroom floor being fed up while washing my hair over the faucet in the tub. I didn't want to do this anymore. And ironically enough I thought for a second that I missed doing twist-outs.
So, I took some shears to my head and snipped away. I cut off the relaxed ends until I was left with my natural curls. Four days in and I decided to go lower.
My boyfriend confirmed multiple times that day if I was sure that I wanted to cut it all off. I repetitiously said yes. So, we stood in front of the mirror while he took clippers to my head. When he was done, I was relieved. I felt like the largest weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Something inside of me just knew that I'd be ok letting it all go.
And I was right.
It's been a week now since I've cut all my hair off. It's quickly growing - which is meh. How ironic, right? But for the first time in doing something new to my hair, not once did I have the thought of whether I'd be beautiful enough to live with no hair. That attachment I had for so many years no longer existed. I'm proud of myself for that. So, here's to a new decade (I just turned 30) and I'm feeling like it's going to be my best one yet.
Sidebar: Isn't this sequin floral top from Sister Jane adorable af?