Hair As Identity Menu


To Chop or Not to Chop, That is the Question

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I’ve shared that, as of late, I’ve been thinking about doing the Big Chop again. This time, I’d be chopping off my dreadlocks. I love my locs and think that they are beautiful. However, I realize that I never learned to work with my natural, unlocked hair. Yes, I rocked a TWA (teeny weeny afro) and then adorned my hair in two-strand twists. However, despite the fact that my unfettered hair is thick, kinky, long and wide, I NEVER wore a fro. Why not? Well, I think I was afraid. Afraid that my big hair wouldn’t look professional. Afraid I’d lose control of my coif if I was caught in a surprise rainstorm or if the day turned out to be humid. Afraid that I’d be viewed as a militant woman who secretly sported an afro pick complete with clenched fist. Afraid that my supervisors and/or my clients wouldn’t find me relatable because my afro would make it obvious that I was not an “us” but a “them”. Afraid that the morning of a big presentation, I’d look in the mirror at my dented afro and cry because I had no idea what product to use to “tame” it. Afraid, afraid, afraid.

I’m turning 40 later on this month and I realize that part of life is confronting one’s fears. Given the freedom of an academic career plus my evolving attitude about fear and risk, I think I’m leaning toward the second Big Chop. Plus, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post there is a veritable Natural Hair Movement! Hmm, we’ll see.

Have you recently done the Big Chop? Have you been thinking about going natural but just don’t have the courage? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s encourage and inspire each other! In case you’re interested, here are a few sites that give advice about the Big Chop:;, I also came across this website on dreadlocks which has some interesting links:

P.S.: I think it’s really cool that a Google search for Big Chop yielded 1,690,000 hits and tons and tons of pictures of women of color. Something is definitely afoot.

  • Shakena.Renee

    interesting topic! i "went natural" about 3 years ago but i didnt do the B.C. I did cut it about a year after going natural to get rid of my permed ends but thats about it. BUT My hair is not thick though, its soft and curly so i dont know how much of my opinion would help :-/ what i can say is that i def understand the point of view about wearing it natural in the office. while my hair is curly and cant really produce a fro, it is fuzzy if not tamed correctly and i often times just put it in a ponytail or bun while at work to avoid people looking at me like im a lion from an african jungle lol i honestly JUST started wearing my hair down without feeling self-conscious about it. i'm not sure if its my business training that makes me feel that way or just not wanting to stand out in a negative way at the office. what kind of locs do you have? my best friend is planning on getting the sister locs next summer and she has coarse hair.

  • topie

    Hi Shakena, Thanks so much for your comment. It sounds like you are doing a great job getting acquainted with your hair. Whew-hew for freedom, right? You made me chuckle because I can so relate to your comments. I'm now figuring out whether or not I'm going to do the BC again. To answer your question, I have mature locks that I started about 10 years ago from two-strand twists. I feel like I'm afraid to cut them. I know, weird right? Also, I do think that business training (what do you do? I've studied business since undergrad and now I'm a business professor) has a huge impact on what we consider professional. We have to figure out how to be authentic in a world where our authenticity is sometimes considered unprofessional (e.g., kinky hair, dreadlocks, etc.). the good thing is that it really feels like we're all in this journey together. Encouraging each other along the way. Best wishes to your best friend. I've heard that many women love sister locs.

  • Shakena.Renee

    i say "do what you feel!–but be ready to bare the consequences!" haha right now i am back in grad school for international affairs but my undergrad was in business-accounting. i also went to an hbcu which adds another aspect to the issue. we were taught to be ourselves but be the selves that will get us hired at the same time…what a confusing world!

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