The Many Times I’ve “Big Chopped”

The “Big Chop” –– the time in every curly girl’s life when they realize they want to cut off the damage and regrow their natural locks to their full potential. Sadly, that moment in my life has happened four times already.

Hair length has never been a problem for me, but texture and health has.

Before seventh grade, I honestly couldn’t remember a time when I had curly hair. For years, my mom had been straightening my hair every other day before school. She would use a thick straightening iron to cover as many strands as she could and would do one quick swipe for each chunk of hair. She’d then put my hair in a ponytail. My hair still wasn’t straight and didn’t actually need to be straightened.

I had gotten used to hopping out of the shower with no curls or waves in sight. I started to think my natural hair was a frizzy poof, and that was that. But in seventh or eighth grade, me and my brother were looking through old photo albums. We found pictures of ourselves when we were 4 years old and younger, and I had really curly hair. I was surprised and wanted to see if I could get those back.

I started YouTubing a lot of alternative, heatless hairstyles and did them once in a while, but it just wasn’t doing the job fast enough. That’s when I found out about the “big chop.” I decided to take the leap in eighth grade, but I didn’t see curls come back quick enough, and fell back into the pattern of straightening my hair. (Keep in mind, I never put in leave-in conditioners or deep conditioners. Honestly, at this time I probably used the dreaded 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners.)

I decided to try it again in tenth grade, but I had gotten into the habit of straightening and dying my hair. I loved to dye and straighten my hair. I had been straightening my hair every one or two weeks. That’s about 26 to 52 times a year that I’d straighten my hair. And I was really into switching my hair color from burgundy to brown to black and back again.

I sucked at leaving my hair alone.

I did the “big chop” again my senior year right before prom and graduation, but I bleached and dyed my hair three times, then straightened and curled it for those events in a two-day span.

My natural hair, senior year of high school

I managed to leave my hair alone a lot more when I started my freshmen year of college. When I’d get out of the shower, I’d have waves. When it dried, the waves actually stayed. But my old habits wouldn’t die out completely. I still dyed and straightened my hair on occasion.

My natural hair, sophmore year of college

The summer before junior year, I “big chopped” again.This time was different. In the past, I would cut my hair up to my shoulders. It may not be considered a big chop to some, but my hair would be down to my belly button when I’d chop it off. This time I chopped my hair an inch below the nape of my neck. I had never cut my hair that short.

My last big chop, junior year of college

It’s been a little over a year since I’ve done that. I haven’t dyed my hair at all and I’ve only straightened my hair 4 times since then. I’ve found alternatives in wigs, braids and other heatless hairstyles. I’ve also been doing more deep conditioning and using products geared toward wavy and curly hair. I have actual curls now. They’re still not exactly where I want them to be, but I’ve made huge progress compared to the hair I had in eighth grade.

I still have a long way to go.