|Photo: Onicia Muller- 2015 Wedding Mirror|
By Onicia Muller
My 27th birthday was on the horizon. I was a late bloomer and introvert who finally felt like life was falling into place. I had my Master’s degree, produced my first play, I could still fit into my jeans from high school, and in a few months, I would marry my OKCupid boo. Oh yeah, I was also having the best hair of my life!
To understand my relationship with my hair, we have to go back about seven years when I did the big chop. My natural hair journey started partly because I finally succeeded at destroying my relaxed hair by using too much bleach and heat. Also, I wanted to prove to my cousin that hair length was “locked in our DNA”; black women either had length or they didn’t.
Photo: Onicia Muller – 2008 Hair
Proof? In our family, most of the women had shoulder-length hair. Still, there was a good number who had bra strap length or longer. We all identified as black, had mostly the same texture, and same-ish styling habits. To me, DNA or God’s plan could be the only differentiating factors.
My cousin insisted that Kim Love (Kimmaytube) had the secret to growing long, afro-textured hair. Sure, my cousin’s hair had improved over the past two years — she’d graduated from chin-length and finally joined the shoulder-length club — but I chalked the new growth up to simply taking better care of herself. She was a wild one who used to unbraid her cornrows from the CENTER, not the ends. Savage.
As for me, all of my life, my relaxed hair rested just passed my shoulders. My stylist became scissors happy anytime it came near my bra strap. Hatred. “Whoever did your hair last didn’t do a good job.” Trick, you did my hair last! Whatchu talkin’ bout?!
Photo: Onicia Muller – 2014 hair
Could I break through to the next milestone? All my cousins were routing for me. People who I’d never spoken to in years messaged me for my secrets. As a black woman who had been teased for being dark-skinned, too thin, and having a long torso (girl, people will find anything to criticize), I started to depend on my hair as my claim to beauty. Getting engaged to a biracial man didn’t help any. Every time someone mentioned our future kids, my inner rage grew. “Our children will be beautiful because I am beautiful! Also, I been growing hair. I don’t need this man’s DNA I’m bringing my own!!”
Year 5 post big chop was all about personal growth. I left my tiny Caribbean island with a mission to achieve world domination by sharing Caribbean stories with the worlds. I was enamored with the idea that the hair on my head had traveled with me to three different countries and many adventures. What began as a silly science experiment, turned into pride, and then a crutch.
It was around this time I started seeing a therapist. I was emotionally constipated and wanted a life of balance. During this year of personal growth, I signed up for a 5K and dusted off my OKCupid profile.
|Photo: Onicia Muller – 2015 Makeover|
What did I get for blowing an entire week’s paycheck on a makeover? Deep. Ultra-deep disappointment. My makeup was horrible. I could do a better job with my eyes closed. My hair was ratty! Pfft, with 3 hours and some John Frieda I could get my hair bone straight at home. This expensive stylist did a job so shoddy that I was poofy within hours.
I was livid. I was dizzy. I was sick.
My fiancé preferred the natural me. A week later, I went to the bathroom intending to cut bangs, or layers, or just anything to make my hair look better. The result was me chopping my near-waist-length hair into a medium bob just months before our wedding.
It was a raggedy bob that took several sessions to get leveled. My friends mourned. On some days I desperately wanted a weave. However, I’d achieved the most important growth milestone; higher self-esteem. I knew then that I didn’t need “biracial curls” to be beautiful. I didn’t need super long hair to be special. Everything I needed to feel like my best version of me I had naturally.
My hair journey ended when I finally fell in love with me.
Is your self-esteem tied to hair length?