I've been natural basically my whole life, well expect those 3 years in undergrad when I relaxed my hair and dyed the top half red. PLEASE, no further questions about that. I spent over 7 years growing my natural hair, and one evening this Spring I chopped it all off. It was pretty liberating at the time: gone were the days of two hour two strand twisting sessions, blow outs, or running out of conditioner every other Sunday.
Since then, any African woman that knew me post-hair cut has asked me in one form or fashion "Jesus, WHY WOULD YOU CUT YOUR HAIR?" One of my friends asked me, "what is the point of growing hair just to cut it? Don't you want length?" Another former co-worker asked me if my hair was breaking off, she assumed I cut it because I couldn't grow it.
I didn't cut my hair because it doesn't grow damn it, I cut it because its a style I enjoy (and also I don't care about length!) I think short hair is chic and classy, and EASY. But the African women I know don't get it. Having lived with them on and off the continent, it is clear that those Beyoncé videos have led many to believe that not only is their natural hair a problem, but short natural hair is not the aesthetic that people want to see. They want length, they want bounce, and if you are going to be natural you better have those Tracee Ellis Ross curls all the way down your back. Hence, the very expensive business of natural hair weaves taking the world by storm ($500 for a wig, $200 for "natural hair" tracks?!)
And when I do meet African women on the street that appreciate my short cut, they always say "Oh but I could never do that, only a certain type of woman can pull that off." You know what most of those women have in common? LONG NATURAL WEAVES. Every single one, I've been stopped on the metro, at parties, at the grocery store, and every African woman who has actually admired my hair was rocking a 25 inch kinky curly weave. So I guess when they say "only a certain kind of woman can pull off a short cut," they mean "only a woman who doesn't care what other people think," otherwise known as a woman who is confident enough to make independent decisions about her hair and life.
I cut my hair because I love my self and this is what I want to look like. I really wish my fellow African women would learn to not be controlled by length, texture, and what ever hair ideal is poppin on instagram. Its already so difficult to be true to your skin and your kinks, we shouldn't add to our own self-doubt by questioning the freedom that come with cutting our hair.