How to Respond to the Pressure to Chop

Article also featured on BGLH :)

I've been transitioning for 16 months, and my transition has been a very public one. Amid all the support and encouragement, there is another element that arises: pressure to chop.

"Girl your hair is gorgeous! Just cut those ends off!"
"Are you chopping soon?"
"You should chop your hair, I did and I love it!"

While I do realize the consequences of a public transition, I still maintain that this is my head of hair, and nobody has to wear it but me. When confronted with this commentary, I politely inform that I am not ready to cut my hair (often citing my being accustomed to having longer hair, or that my head is too big for short hair), and that when I'm ready to chop it will be just as public as my transition. Don't get me wrong -- there are some fierce looking TWA's, neck, and shoulder length natural hair icons out there. Their courage to forge ahead and chop away something perceived as so aesthetically vital is to be applauded. By no means is this writing intended to diminish those that choose to chop their hair and start over. I am simply utilizing my own experience in transitioning to support and encourage those ladies who may be battling the same pressure - externally and internally.

Here are a few tips for navigating those choppy waters:

Don't let someone else's agenda dictate what YOU do with YOUR hair.
NOTHING rubs me the wrong way as much as someone trying to get you to do something as a part of their agenda. Not just when it comes to my hair, but in everyday life. If I'm busy pushing your agenda, who's moving mine forward? But I digress. Whenever you come upon someone more eager for you to chop your hair than you are, kindly tell them to dial it back and have a few seats. Don't get into debates and arguments with folks about what you should do with your hair...because it's YOUR hair. You have to wear it, care for it, style it, and everything in between; so why would you let them pressure you into doing something they won't be responsible for maintaining? They'll tell you that you will feel so free when you cut it, or that those scraggly ends are holding you back from reaching your full potential. Thank them for their opinions, and keep it moving.

Skip the Big Chop vs Transition Drama
In the natural hair community, there are several areas of contention: from hair typing, to if x, y, z manipulated hair is still considered natural, and of course big choppers versus transitioners. Do not by any means become consumed with this drama...or any natural hair drama, for that matter. As each side makes their case for and against, all you will do is become more uncertain, unsure, and uncomfortable. Transitioning is already hard enough. Don't make it more difficult on yourself by allowing other's opinions to dictate how you feel about your decisions... and your hair.

Stop Internalizing
Following the myriad of natural hair products and accounts on Instagram and Pinterest is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's beautiful to see women of color affirming themselves, embracing their hair, and just generally rocking some kick-ass styles. On the other hand, it can be hard to constantly digest those pictures when your hair isn't quite on that page. I've had to catch myself several times from saying "Gosh I wish my hair looked like..."Yes, their hair is beautiful -- those kinks, coils, and curls are envied by everyone. But I had to stop gushing over their tresses while simultaneously hating mine. In due time, your hair will look like everyone else's; full, fro-licious, and kinky/curly to the max. But in the meantime, we will have to patiently wait and love every part of this process and what it is teaching us.

Understand Your Options
Just because you've decided to transition doesn't mean you have to hide your hair in weaves, wigs, braids, and buns. There are plenty of styles out there that are perfect for blending transitioning textures, and providing definition and curl as gorgeous as some of the 100% naturalistas out there. Twist and curls, satin strip braidouts, curlformers, flexi-rod sets, straw sets, bantu knot-outs, and more are great ways to build transitioning hair confidence. Spend some time perfecting a few styles that can be your go-to, and look great no matter what. The better you get at styling, the more confidence you will have in your hair, and your ability to stick this whole transition thing out.

Do you feel pressured to chop your hair? How do you handle it? Let's get some more tips going!