Real Hair Talk: I Regretted The Big Chop

Real Hair Talk: I Regretted The Big Chop

The Big Chop has been a popular subject to me since I first became interested in going natural back in 2009. YouTube was just beginning to become a place where women shared hair tutorials and their own experiences with natural hair.

To be honest with you, I had no idea what “natural hair” was. It was foreign, but eye-opening, the idea of not getting relaxers anymore- something I had been doing since I was eight years old. To my understanding, a relaxer was just something every young black girl did. The best thing about getting a relaxer was not having to endure stomach-turning braiding sessions or ear-singeing pressing comb experiences with my mother anymore. Relaxed hair was easier, more convenient, and just all-around better: or so I thought.

Fast forward 10 years and my 18-year-old self has a remarkable revelation: my hair had never surpassed shoulder length and had been neck length for over five years. Not to mention it was dull, broken, lifeless, thin, and terrible looking. I felt like I was completely out of options. I had been to countless stylists/salons, had more than enough “trims” that turned into full-blown haircuts, and I simply just wasn’t happy with my hair.

In June 2009, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and began a healthy hair journey. I went on a no-heat challenge and started stretching my relaxer for 10-12 weeks. I learned about deep conditioning and properly moisturizing the hair, amongst other things. In only three months time, my hair had made significant progress. It was healthier and longer, shiny instead of dull, and I could actually do some cute styles with it. I felt hopeful about my hair for the first time in a long time.

It was around October 2009 when I first heard about going natural from one of my cousins. I was completely opposed to it at first because I felt like I finally had a routine that was working for me, and because the whole idea seemed a bit radical. But after researching natural hair and seeing all the beautiful pictures of women who were doing twistouts and wash and gos and other styles, I started to get curious about the tiny curls growing from my scalp in between relaxers. I became convinced that going natural would be the healthiest decision for my hair.

I started transitioning in December 2009 and pretty much wore my hair in flexi rod puffs. I got box braids installed in February 2010 and by June, curiosity got the best of me. What resulted was a two inch fro.

Which resulted in this thought: “Why in the world did I just do that?”

It was exciting, chopping off hair with the help of my sisters and my mom, but when that two inch fro stared back at me, I  knew I had made a mistake. The “freeing” feeling that I’d heard so many other naturals describe never came. I had planned on transitioning for two years and now here I was looking like a child who got ahold of the scissors.

Everywhere I went, I was wondering what people were thinking. I wasn’t confident at all and I didn’t feel like myself, which was the worst feeling of all. I had done something just because everyone else was doing it, and now I had to face the consequences.

So after a month of wearing my TWA in hopes of becoming comfortable with it (and failing), I started to learn how to install braids and twists, which became a protective style that would eventually become my method of choice to grow my hair.

I’ve been natural for almost five years and my hair is now APL (I had a heat damage setback in 2012 but I’ve recovered!). But thinking back on the journey has caused me to ponder what the big chop really means. I see more long term transitioners now and truth be told, I wish I had been one of them. I would’ve saved myself the regret and the terrible pictures that will go down in the history of my life.

Keep in mind this is my experience. The big chop was not for me.

I asked myself, if you big chop down to a TWA and start wearing extensions, does it mean you don’t have any confidence? Or simply that you don’t like the way the short natural hair looks on you?

And personally, I think that what matters is being confident in yourself because if you aren’t, it will show. It’s also important not to be concerned about what other people think. A lot of people told me that my TWA looked good but I actually thought they were lying because I didn’t believe it looked good myself. My hair is an accessory that I can change and adapt however I so very well please. I can cut it, throw in some extensions, weave it up, curl it, color it, or put a hat on it. But whatever I do with it, it has to be because it’s my decision and I’m comfortable. There’s no reason for me to walk around wearing my hair in a way that’s going to make me feel insecure. For what? For who?

Please don’t get me wrong: I think the big chop looks absolutely stunning on so many naturals! This post isn’t intended to dissuade anyone from doing their big chop and/or wearing short natural hair. This is simply my experience. Going natural WAS the best decision for my hair; big chopping after only six months of transitioning was not. The truth is- short natural hair isn’t for everyone! But since becoming natural, my hair is healthy, it’s full, and it’s resilient. Even when I had my heat damage setback, my hair bounced back within a few short months. I love being natural! I love playing in my hair, discovering new styles, and navigating through this natural hair world with where so many women are able to share their own experiences and learn from one another. I wouldn’t trade it.

Long story short: you shouldn’t do anything in life just because everyone else is or because someone told you it was a good idea if you haven’t weighed the options of how this will affect you because you’re the one who has to live with it, not them.

16 thoughts on “Real Hair Talk: I Regretted The Big Chop

  1. I started transitioning in May of 2014 and the first two months were okay and I was a bit cocky. I only had a little bit of new growth and most of my hair was still permed hair. But as the year went on those two texts together became unbearable for me to deal with! It was like I had a birds nest on top of my head that I could not get control of! I was getting so frustrated that I was considering returning to perms by November of that year. My mom heard me complaining and suggested I just cut off the permed hair, and I thought okay let’s do it. I didn’t give myself time to really think about it we just started cutting and I have to be honest the first day I was thinking I had made a BIG mistake. I didn’t know what to do with this short kinky hair. My go to style was usually a higb bun but obviously I didn’t have enough hair to do that so I got online and did a YouTube emergency search and I found a handful of easy hairstyles for my new fro. Once I found some manageable hairstyles that fear started to recide and knowing that there was nothing I could do about it, that I had to wear this hair forced me to feel comfortable with it. The first day I went into work I was a bit self conscious but since then I have held my head high and I have really embraced my natural hair in a way that I really didn’t think I could. For me the big chop was the best thing I could have done because it made me totally commit to going natural. I have no choice but to see this through!

  2. Wow! Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. IMO you were beautiful with a TWA. But as you stated in the article, what YOU feel is what matters most. I understand transitioning, I don’t understand those LONG transitions. The ones that are like 3 years. It seems kind of tedious to me & would drive me nuts managing 2 textures that long LOL! Big chopping & transitioning are both apart of the natural journey that we all should take that feels right for each individual though. Thank you for your honesty. Blessed love <3

    1. Thanks Fayla! It wasn’t actually about being or feeling beautiful- I knew that I was and still am. It was about the fact that I personally wasn’t comfortable with having short natural hair. Thank you so much for reading!

  3. It’s your mentality. Sorry for sounding like im preaching and being churchy… If you are still holding on to certain ideals of beauty deep down in your mind where you think no one can see, and not truly accepting and embracing yourself, the way your dna was constructed and told to function, then you’ll never sincerely feel good no matter what you do. It took me 8 years and 5 big chops to truly get that in my heart and mind. Look at Amber Rose! Putting everything else about her aside, she’s liable to obtain anything or engage any guy with her confidence alone, while other people still obsess over having long hair. Now mind you, as ‘sistas’ our self esteem has been under attack for a very long time, we have been pressured and had many ideals and standards of beauty shoved in our faces for hundreds of years even if we wanna be tough guy and not own up to it. It would be totally foolish to think that now we’re just gonna get up and magically ignore that and go around it without addressing the real underlying issues. A quote i’d seen along the way of my journey went a little something like… If you say you’re pretty then you’re right, and if you say youre ugly then guess what… You’re still right!! I enjoyed reading your story, and i blame society for our self consciousness and feeling like we cant walk out the door unless we look ‘just right’. One day, I hope there will be a time where no one honestly gives a care about what the next person looks like and no one will be so self conscious. Then we can focus on more important things like our hearts look and people doing worse than us.

    1. For me, it’s definitely a matter of opinion! My big chop experience wasn’t about being “pretty” or “ugly” (because I never felt ugly with a TWA), but being comfortable with a certain style. And a TWA is just a hairstyle: one that I personally know I’ll never be comfortable with! That has absolutely nothing to do with my self-confidence/self-esteem. 🙂 It was important to me to do this article because for so long people made it seem like not feeling good about the Big Chop meant that you had low self-esteem or that your self consciousness had been messed up by society. For me that’s just not the case. While a bad hair day won’t keep me in the house, I love having AMAZING hair days and I do what it takes to achieve them lol. I’m not self conscious but I take pride in my appearance even though I know there’s far more to me than meets the eye. Thank you SO much for reading and sharing your opinion! It means so much to me.

  4. Kanisha,
    I totally understand ! We all have hairstyles that we love just as we have some that we do not like as much. I am loving my journey and thank you so much for sharing!

      1. That’s a lot of time. I didn’t think it would take that long, I have done 5 months and I thought that was enough.

        1. I only transitioned for six months myself. You can, of course, cut your hair whenever you want but a “long term” transition is typically at least a year long.

  5. This page and all the articles I’ve read are really great…
    I plan to share with my sister because I’ll be preforming her big chop Saturday… I’ve been natural for 2 years & love the kinky coily that God gave me 🙂 I only went natural to see what my texture would be & feel in love with the change.
    I big chopped and my experience was very similar to TEarra… BUT
    I wore a wig for almost 2 weeks after the BC – and I just got feed up with myself for hiding lol
    One Sunday at church I wore a wig that morning but afternoon service came and I walked it with my POORLY shaped TWA! I felt like its now or never lol
    But I am really glad I did the BC because I think I would’ve given up on transitioning. Hair is hair & I don’t push that natural is better but I have persuaded 3 co workers and 2 sisters to make the change & it’s exciting to encourage others & then they can relate 😉

  6. Im totally not feeling the twa on me .i hav a little head and muscular arms lol. I wear extensions to fill my head and face out. I wantto go natural but i like this long hair lookso much, ive been doing it for 15 years. How can i love my little head natural hair and be comfortable

  7. Hello…..I just turned 51. My hair is chemical free but, it is thin and has signs of damage. Would a big chop help? Or is there another way to thicker and healthier hair?

    1. Hey Miriam, some people have naturally thin hair so big chopping shouldn’t be your first choice. Try massaging castor oil onto your scalp, that helped my hair grow alot and thicker, alsoif that doesn’t work I’d suggest holding your hair onto a white paper and if you can say the white paper through your hair then it’s time to big chop. That’s just suggesting.

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