February 29th, 2008, I went to a local barber to get my own "big chop". In the black community, for at least most women, our hair encapsulates multiple meanings, and it is no different for me.
When I was younger, I had no knowledge of how to take care of my own hair, and my mother and grandmother would give me bi-monthly perms - chemical straighteners. Then in high school I was tired of the limitations I had. For example, I was told I couldn't go swimming because the chlorine would make my hair fall off. I was also told I couldn't leave my hair wet because it would break off. I just listened because I believed my elders knew better than me, I mean, how can I compete with life experience?
So, instead, in grade 12 I texturized my hair because I was told by a hairdresser that it is a lighter, more natural, and healthier hair straightener. After seeing how bad my hair looked, I just wore hair extensions.
University has been a massive learning experience for me because it's encouraged me to be critical of everything I am told, and has emphasized the value of research. I started watching YouTube so I gained knowledge regarding how to take care of my natural hair - then I cut off the chemically treated ends to start fresh.
I like to think that I've started a revolution at my campus (ha ha) because I noticed many more natural females after me. Maybe it was timing, maybe it was because I became more aware, or maybe I was influential...I'll believe the latter!
Anyways, this past summer I took my first semester off for a much needed break, and realized...I was doing it all wrong, and I actually didn't know much. I started investing in a hair care library, and am devoted to several hair care gurus on youtube...I have learned so much! I was planning to start all over again with the big chop, but I've decided not to.
I'd like to devote part of this blog towards documenting my hair growth! On December 25th, I spent 12 hours installing braid extensions, which will protect my hair for the next 6-8 weeks. After I take them out, I plan to measure the length of my hair, report on its condition (ie. split ends), and mention any hair products or treatments of interest. I aim to do this every month. February 29th this year will make 4 years that I have been natural, and my hair would be longer and healthier if I had known what I was doing 4 years ago - if only I knew then what I know now. Overall, my goal is for my hair length to be at the middle of my back by February 29th, 2016.
P.S. The lady in the YouTube clip is not me, but I wanted to show an example of the experience of making such a dramatic, symbolic change. I must say, she is absolutely gorgeous :)