My natural hair journey (part 2)// Dear Diary5 minute read

Before we begin, just a note regarding Part I. I might’ve sounded like my mom forced me to ‘fix’ my hair, but honestly, it was also me who desired to have a different type of hair. More importantly, back then very little was known about how to properly take care of natural curly locks. Now there are entire communities dedicated to sharing information, tips, and tricks. It is so much easier to access the right information. Just the other day I came across another account on Instagram all about hair care. SO. MUCH. INFORMATION! If only we knew back then what we know today…

Alright, now that that’s cleared up a bit, let’s get back to my big chop experience!

I was literally counting down the days and hours leading up to my appointment. The closer it got, the more excited and nervous I got. Finally, the moment arrived and I got to sit in the hairdresser’s chair with my support system ready. My sweet boyfriend and dear friend Kyara who has been motivating me to go natural for years (!!) were with me throughout the process.

But, before going into the whole cutting experience, I want to share a little bit on how I prepared for it.

Once I finally decided to actually go through with the cut I started telling all my closest friends and colleagues about my decision. I did this for two main reasons. Firstly, because I wanted to hear if other people would think short hair would suit me. Secondly,  I wanted to prepare everyone close to me what was about to happen so they could mentally prepare as well and understand the underlying reasons for my decision and hopefully not be too hard on me if I looked terrible, haha. I chose to be very open and vulnerable about my decision and my  insecurities because it helped me prepare for and process the whole event and I figured I would receive more support. I anticipated I would be needing it.

At some point, I couldn’t stop talking about it and was looking up women with short, natural, curly cuts on Instagram accounts, YouTube videos, blog sites, Pinterest… Honestly, I was becoming quite obsessed with the whole thing. My friends and family started calling me out on this as well, but I didn’t really care tbh. It was and is a big change and I really needed and wanted to talk about it A.L.O.T. Reading all those articles and watching the videos helped to increase my curiosity and excitement for my own big chop.

So, back to the appointment. My hairdresser, who is also a cousin of mine, is the sweetest and was super excited to get started. I set my camera on time lapse to record the whole endeavour and then it started! The goal was to create a pixie-like shape and get rid of all the processed and damaged hair. The entire process took almost three hours, washing, drying, extra cutting and styling included. And I was all smiles and excitement…right up until we were almost done. To be honest, I did not like what I saw. Not because the cut was bad or that short hair didn’t suit my face, but I did not recognize myself anymore. I just didn’t like it and realized I could not go back. Sh*t… What did I just do!? I was really holding back my tears at that point. 

I was disappointed with the way my own curls looked and felt like a frizzy afro. Now let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and it didn’t look ugly but it just wasn’t me, at all! It made me very self-conscious and can you believe for the first time ever I wondered if now I would be made fun of or be called things like ‘black pete‘?! That is absolutely crazy, but it does really illustrate the level of insecurity I was experiencing.

My cousin and friend kept reassuring me it looked great and that my curls still needed to find their way in this new style. They said that the look would change over the coming days and I had to experiment with styling it some more; so I tried to accept it and play with it. The next day I was still feeling very insecure and unhappy and decided I needed some retail therapy. Maybe some new funky clothes and earrings would help me pull off this new look more? It really was, and still is, quite an emotional rollercoaster and struggle to be honest. There are moments when I feel good and kinda like what I see, and then 5 seconds later I feel shitty again, despite all the loving and positive feedback I’ve been receiving. My curly hair Instagram-idol @niathelight and some of her followers even sent me the sweetest feedback. At the same time, it also feels liberating and brave. I can’t believe I cut my hair!

Now that almost a week has passed, I think I am getting used to it a little bit more. I’m still looking at all the styling videos and ordered a whole bunch of new styling products that might suit my hair type better than what I currently own (sorry wallet). Tomorrow I am also going back to the hairdresser to see if I need some extra touch-ups or not. I am very much in the process of learning to love my new look and I suppose that will just take some time. Also, I slowly feel some excitement creeping back up for how my hair will look and develop over the coming months. A good sign!

Also, a bit off topic, but I went to a Sensual Barre Class yesterday – basically a Barre workout but with more flowy and sensual movements to boost confidence (picture a lot of hip and shoulder movements, splits and body rolls) – and I have to say that really helped a lot too. I felt absolutely gorgeous during that class. Is that weird to say? Why does it feel weird to say that I was feeling beautiful, but it’s easier to say I feel I look like crap? A topic that I think deserves way more attention in another post!

So how did the big chop go? Good, then unexpectedly bad and now slowly coming back to good!

Stay tuned for Stacey’s next update on her “Natural Hair Journey”, to read Part 1 go here.

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Stacey Mac Donald is a part time editor for ‘OF AFRICA’. She grew up on a small Caribbean island, Curaçao, one of the six Dutch Caribbean islands, and she has a BA in Child and Family Studies and an MA in Social & Organizational Psychology. Currently she is working on her PhD research on nature and cultural heritage preservation in the Dutch Caribbean at the Royal Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean studies (KITLV).