Our girls had normal hair growth during their childhoods. At about age 12 our youngest daughter started asking if she could cut her hair. Her hair had gotten past her shoulders at that time. For an African-American girl, long hair is often dreamt of but never attained. During my youth, I would have coveted her hair. “You may not cut your hair I would say. Do you know how long it took to grow your hair to this length?” I prided myself on taking great care of her hair and her older sister’s hair. After all, I own a hair care store. I am an expert on black hair care. I’ve been working on this head of hair for 12 years. You’re not going to cut off all of my hard work.
Both girls had healthy beautiful hair. I would tell her that other black girls would kill to have your length. Shayna was into basketball and then volleyball. It was so easy putting it in a ponytail or messy bun as they call it. All the girls on the basketball team wore their hair pulled up when they played. She fit in. I even told her she might get teased and called a boy if she cut hair short. Having done the big chop myself, I knew how people could be and kids can be cruel.
She still begged. This went on for a couple of years. She wanted a change. Her white friends were cutting and coloring and she felt left out. I would tell her that their hair grew really fast and they could experiment more than she could. If they cut their hair, it grew back quickly. I finally agreed to let her get it dyed at my then hairdresser. She wanted her black hair to be dyed purple. Shayna was so excited during the process. Unfortunately, you cannot get black hair purple without peroxide to lift the color first. I hadn’t approved that. No chemicals were going to touch her precious hair. She ended up with a shadow of purple but nothing like what she expected. She was disappointed.
Fast forward almost a year and we decided she could cut her hair. She had turned 15 and we had finally decided that she should be allowed to express herself. She was a teenager. Why shouldn’t she be able to do things with her hair like her friends did? She was secure in knowing who she was. And, after all, it was her hair and should be her choice. I took her to get it cut. She took two pictures with her to show the hairdresser. There was the one we had agreed on. That was the one her father and I had approved. And there one she really wanted- which was really short. Her father hadn't even seen this one. As I settled in to read a book and wait on her I glanced up and immediately realized she had shown the stylist the shorter picture that she really wanted. The first cut was made and there was no turning back.
Let me tell you my girl rocked that short hair. It looked awesome on her and she got many compliments. No one thought she looked like a boy. She took great care of it and had many different ways of styling it. Her plan was to have the tips dyed purple last fall. Unfortunately, that never happened as our 15-year-old passed away suddenly in her sleep on June 24, 2015. It was only a few months after she had gotten it cut. But, both my husband and I had to admit we had been wrong all those years we stopped her. She knew what was best for her. We are so glad we finally let her do what she wanted to do with her own hair.
I tell you this story to remind us all that life is really short. Sometimes it’s much shorter than we expect it to be. We should not get so caught up in the little things like coloring or cutting of hair. It’s only hair and it will grow back. If cutting of hair is the worst thing our teenagers get into, I would count that as a blessing. I am so glad I let my teenager finally cut her hair even if she only got to enjoy it for a few months. #Itsjusthair
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