How to Cut Your Hair
How to Cut Your Hair is an emotional exploration into the trauma caused by the fraught relationship between Blackness and femininity that follows Black women in every aspect of their lives.
Grab the scissors. The ones you use to cut scratchy tags in the clothes rubbing your skin raw. The ones you use to cut yellowed leaves off the plants you forgot to water. The ones so dull, they struggle to saw through cardboard boxes too big to fit in your trashcan. Look in the mirror and hate what you see. Look again and try to convince yourself otherwise. Rub the strands of lifeless hair between your thumb and index finger. Think to yourself: my hair is brittle, broken, and see-through but it is still mine. Put down the scissors. Worry that people will look at you with judgment or maybe even disgust. Worry that they already do. Remind yourself: it’s just hair and it will grow back. Pick up the scissors. Snatch a section of hair from where it rests on your shoulder, and bring the blades down onto the unsuspecting strands. Cringe as you listen to the shrieking of your hair being severed from you. Permanently. Irrevocably. Examine your lopsided reflection in the mirror. Close your eyes. Open them. Feverishly carve, rip, and hack at pieces of hair until the scissors slide through nothing but air. Pause. Say to yourself: I look like a man. Know that you really mean that no man will ever want to look at me. Hold back tears. Declare that the right man will love looking at you even if you look like a man. Even if your hair does not trail down your back and flow in the wind. Even if the short, prickly curls that replace your synthetically straightened hair mirrors his own to a frightening degree. Repeat to yourself: it’s just hair. Cry even though it’s just hair. Because it’s not just hair. It’s the hair that you took pride in, your dignity unmarred. The hair that made you feel beautiful, knowing that you deserved the praise that fell into your lap. The hair that gave you confidence, oozing in every stride of your gait. Hair that is gone. Hair that is now scattered on the bathroom floor in pathetic clumps of regret. Throw the scissors across the room and watch it dent the already bruised and battered wall. Fear what tomorrow will bring. Fear the feeling of wind on your neck that your hair once protected you from. The feeling of nakedness. Know that tomorrow you will get stares and comments. Some that are well-meaning and some that are not. Hate them all because they are a reminder of what is missing. Your hair is gone because you cut it all off and you chose to do it even though you had no choice but regardless you hate yourself for making that choice. Because you were better off before. Before you became exposed, without hair to hide behind. Before you felt unwanted, your value diminishing with the length of your hair. But here you are, without hair. With no one to blame except yourself and maybe the blunt scissors abandoned on the floor of your bathroom.
This piece was inspired by the relationship that Black women have with their hair in a society that bases femininity on the appearance of your hair. This short piece represents a collective experience that many Black women face when transitioning from hair permed in a straight style that aligns with societal beauty standards to their naturally curly hair that has too often been ridiculed and weaponized by the dominant narrative throughout history. The action of cutting your hair is often unavoidable and can be devastating to the self-perception that Black women have in regards to their femininity, beauty, and self-worth. How to Cut Your Hair is ultimately reflective of my own experience and the experiences of other Black women in my life who have been faced with the difficult task of reconstructing the relationship between their hair and femininity.
Sidney Strong is a writer passionate about storytelling in all formats. She's currently a college senior majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Creative Writing. In the future, she plans to work in the publishing industry to increase the representation of characters from diverse backgrounds in published novels. In her free time she enjoys taking care of her garden, watching the Great British Bake Off, and crocheting blankets.