I Need You to Know my decision to cut my hair was not an easy one. I Need You to Know my decision to cut my hair was a result of years of questioning my sense of beauty. I Need You to Know that as much as I love my short hair, I still sometimes doubt my beauty.
The summer of 2013 I participated in a 6-week study abroad program in Madrid, Spain. Of the 45 students participating in the program, only two of us were black. One black guy and me, the sole black girl.
Though we were based in Madrid, we took several weekend trips as a group to visit breath-taking cities like Sevilla, Barcelona, and Toledo. And as you might imagine, the mixture of 45 twenty-something year-olds plus six weeks abroad yielded the formation of numerous summer flings. By our first weekend in Madrid, I was surrounded by exchanges of flirtatious conversations and coy smiles. But such was not the case for me. I mean I wasn’t trying to get up and close with anybody at the clubs, but I was still trying to look cute and catch some glances my way, ya know? I quickly learned that was not going to happen. I was just the fun, nice, Christian girl who could answer your questions about Spanish grammar, not the girl you had a crush on.
I will never forget the weekend trip we took as a group to Barcelona. I was sitting on the beach with two other girls and a guy (who I had a crush on). They were all white, and I was not (obviously). We were talking about random life things when somehow the conversation shifted to discussing who we found attractive.
“Well, I think the most beautiful girls are those with the blonde hair and blue eyes. They are just sooooo gorgeous. Brunettes are cute too, but there’s something about that blonde hair,” said the guy. Suddenly, he turned to me, “Oh…no offense to you, Nia. You’re pretty too…”
“Oh, don’t even worry about it,” I quickly interrupted while attempting to muster up the cutest smile I could. You could cut the awkwardness in that air with a butter knife. As they continued talking, that awkwardness began to to be replaced by an overwhelming sense of despair. For the seemingly millionth time in my life, I was being reminded that I did not fit this world’s standard of beauty. As hard as I tried, I could not help but begin to once again question my sense of beauty due to the color of my skin and the texture of my hair.
I’ve lived 23 years believing I was “pretty for a black girl,” and I thought that because of my hair. I spent 23 years growing and chemically straightening my hair, and people would always comment, “Your hair is sooo long. It’s so beautiful,” so that’s what I began to define my beauty by–the length and straightness of my hair. I couldn’t change my skin color. I couldn’t change my eye color. But I could change my hair.
But on August 18, 2016, I decided I wasn’t going to allow myself to be defined by this world. On August 18, 2016, I realized I am not my hair. I am wonderfully and fearfully made by the Creator of this universe, and I was created with the cutest little curls and coils I’ve ever seen. The morning after I did the big chop, I legit stared at my reflection for a good 45 seconds because for the first time in my life, I felt like I was created in the image of God. For the first time in my life, I felt beautiful and it wasn’t because of the length or straightness of my hair. I could see my face. I could see my super big nose and my tiny little eyelashes. I could see the curve of my lips and the roundness of my chin. During those 45 seconds, I kept thinking Daannngg God! I see you! I see you creating beautiful things!
So to all of the people in my life who’ve told me I’m pretty for a black girl, or that I’m not even worth to be considered, whether in your words or in your actions, I’m shaking all y’all haters off! My curls are poppin’, my melanin is straight fire, and I’m gonna tear up this world with the beauty I have in Christ! BOOM. ROASTED.