The Trauma of My First BIG CHOP

So… After three years, me and mom had to admit that relaxed hair was not working out as well as we had planned. I was thirteen by then. As a side note, I was in all advanced placement classes at the time. I was one of only three black students in most of my classes, all three of us girls. I wore my hair relaxed, one of the other girls sported her natural hair, and the other had a Jheri Curl. We were like a cross-section of hairstyles for young Black girls (LOL).

I mention that to say that every day I had the opportunity to re-evaluate how I felt about my own appearance, in comparison to my peers. If it were a competition (which in my mind it often was) I came in second place. The student with the Jheri Curl looked underwhelming most days.

Nothing about her hair made me covet her style. The student with the natural hair always looked cute to me. The funny thing is, it didn’t seem like she made a whole lot of effort to do anything with her hair. It always looked as if she spent the last five minutes running out the door to slap her hair into a bun or pick it out into a curly fro. Nonetheless, her wild and carefree hair was very appealing, and it became her.

I often envied her look. If only I could do that with my natural hair, I would ditch the relaxer and go back! But alas, my mom explained to me that she had “good hair” and that my hair would never do that. Oh… did that mean my hair was bad? Yes, my hair was very bad, in my mind—bad and painful, and it needed to be tamed! That left me to face the daunting reality that I must either continue with relaxers or go with a Jheri Curl, which I personally found unattractive. However, my mom assured me that it would look cute on me, and she convinced me to give it a try.

Well, let me tell you—THAT PROCESS WAS SO HORRIBLE I THOUGHT MY MOM WAS SECRETLY PUNISHING ME FOR SOMETHING!!! First, I had to go months without a relaxer to prepare my hair for the chemical processing. Second, the process of applying the Jheri Curl was far worse than getting a relaxer, with a god-awful stench that filled the house for days to come.

Then I had to get a BIG CHOP! I had upper back length hair that had to be cut down almost to the scalp. I cried so hard when I saw the finished product. It was the worst I had ever seen myself and I regretted the decision more than anything in life!

For the next six months, I did all that I could to hide my hair. I had a hat or scarf on every moment of everyday that I could get away with it. But much to my good pleasure, the Jheri Curl seemed to make my hair grow twice as fast. In less than a year, my hair was back at the length it was before the big chop. And even better than that, once my hair grew out, I only needed a touchup every three months.

Ok, so once again mama knew what I didn’t know. But unfortunately, I got my Jheri Curl late in the trend, toward the end of its glory years. It was a dated hairstyle and it made me look out of fashion. Though I found it to be a cute look, I got teased because of it. The insecurity was too much to bear. So, what next? I’ll let you know in the next article!

I am SouLah the Legend,


speaking the universal language of the soul…

Photos by Soulah the Legend

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