By Stephanie Pettway
When I cut my hair, it was really something that I was very worried about. I thought people would look at me differently, give weird looks, and just judge me whether they knew me or not.
I was completely wrong when I walked into my first class in the Fall semester of 2017 with much shorter hair than I did the semester before. Not only was I not judged, I was not even asked questions about it either.
Looking back, I can see how this made sense, since the people that know me in college had only known me for a few years. So, what would it matter to them? The people that knew me had the important opinions. Which is where the problem lied.
Before going through with this big decision, I presented the idea to friends who I had known for many years, some I even knew for most of my life. And shockingly enough, I got mixed reviews.
I presented a picture of what I had wanted my hair to look like and gave a brief argument as to why I felt like it would work. Some friends were all for it and even said, “It would look so cute on you!” Others said, “I don’t know Steph. I’m not too sure about it.”
Granted, those that “weren’t too sure” went into the whole explanation of how much up-keep it would be to maintain the short hair style, keeping the sides shaved, and many other things that many think they knew that goes into cutting hair (not having short hair) when, at the end of the day, they were not trained professionals, so their opinions became null and void to me. So, once I had these results from my friends, I went to my parents who of course said that I would look beautiful.
Though this was everything I was looking to hear, I still was very skeptical and on-edge about making this decision.
Now, some would think that since I had the other half of my friends cosigning the idea (fun fact: they weren’t the ones that I had known my whole life) and my parents, why would I still feel this way about cutting my hair?
Well, this has to do with the simple fact that hair – and I personally feel, black hair – does not grow back as fast due to our tighter hair texture. For me, to get the shoulder length hair that I had pre-cut basically took my whole life and a lot of care to get too. So, I wasn’t so excited to get rid of literally all of it with the idea that I’d have it all back in a few months.
But what did I do come May of 2017?
I made a hair appointment and completely shaved the sides of my head and cut most of the top part of my hair off. And when I say that afterward I never felt that self-conscience before in my life, I really mean it. I was scared to even get out of the car!
I look back on this with it almost being a year-and-a-half ago and much shorter hair than before; I think how crazy it was that I even felt this way. Not only have I not been judged, but I have gotten so much praise and so many compliments on how well my hair suits me.
Though I still get people who ask me why I cut my hair or whether I will grow it out. And to answer those questions: I cut it because I was tired of having longer hair, and no, I will never grow it back out. I can’t imagine my hair being any other way or how I even managed it beforehand, and I simply cannot go back.
I share this to not only spread the message that we all should feel comfortable to do what we want and to not worry about what others say, but to feel comfortable in doing so regardless of who approves or disapproves. Because you may end up absolutely loving it, like me; or hating it, which is a great lesson in itself and we should all be happy to experience the blessing that is making mistakes and learning from them. Though I would have been a little upset if cutting my hair ended up being a mistake and going through the many awkward hair lengths as it grew out, I would have learned to never do it again.
I look back on how I searched for the approval of people that were closest to me and to have half of them disapprove kind of sucked, but I appreciated their honesty. I even look back on how once going through with it, how I was so afraid of what anyone would have thought.
But I also think about how if I let that fear, and if I listened to that disapproval, I would have not known that I was stopping myself from making one of the best decisions of my life. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.