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Chronicles of Unhealthy Hair: A New Do

This is the look of defeat. The look of whatevs and life’s a b****.  It was 7 am.  I was tired. Stressed. On only 2 hours of sleep. And on a plane.

I really contemplated not writing this post. The idea of bringing more attention to the issues I’ve been having with my hair had me in a frenzy and roller coaster of confusing feelings: should I or should I not talk about it… again. If I talked about it, should I go all out and tell you why I had to cut my hair, surfacing emotional truths I’m dealing with, or should I just keep it simple and share the process? Either way I decided to approach it, I thought it was going to be too emotional, too blatant, and too hurtful.

So why talk about it? Just post pictures and let people react. And that’s kind of what I ended up doing, in part.

I did not want to cut my hair.

I had to.

And that sucks.

But I’m a grown up. An adult old enough to have a 17 year old, so I pulled it together and sobbed it out with some girlfriends last week after I went through a 3rd round of chopping.

Stress will kill you. In this case, it killed my hair. In this post I talked about how it all started. And in this post, I talked about how excited I was to see growth, strength, and my curls blooming again!  I had made a bold decision, though hard, to go all the way natural, barring the bit of blonde left from my last full color process in Oct. 2011. The remnants of the color were enough to keep me happy with the look. I was very adamant about going back to dark black — my natural color  — or short for that matter.

But it was looking so good, well on its way to my hair circa 2005. It was almost 100% recovered.

And then sometime two months ago, all the progress I was enjoying started reversing. My hair started falling out in major, mammoth size balls. I wasn’t doing anything differently from the all organic, natural treatment, so I was stumped and getting frustrated. I would shower, wash my hair, and just watch the ball accumulate as I combed it out with my fingers. Every time.

And then I broke one day. I couldn’t take the lopsided look anymore.  My right side simply refused to grow in tandem with my left and it was still weak and thin. It still wasn’t voluminous. It was hideous. Just plain not cute, not chic, and unattractive.

This picture did it.

Dear friends celebrating my friend’s aunt and former Pastor’s wife; I’m 2nd in from left on 2nd row)

Granted, I had just washed it that morning and it hadn’t fully dried, which takes a good 6 hours before  it gets the volume it really needs to look good. Remember the cover of the Mother/Spring issue of B! Inspired? That was rockin’. It was lopsided then, but not as bad. That was in late April. This was three weeks ago.

So when I saw that picture above, I lost it. Do you see that hotmessnes?? How come no one’s pulled me over and said ‘B! Come on girl… do something with that…It’s just not a good look.’ I mean, really.

I had a few TV appearances coming up that week and I wasn’t going to put myself through the angst of what I experienced last Oct. when I taped 5 segments in 45 minutes and struggled with doing something decent to my hair. I had just cut it in July, while traveling, so it was pretty short in a long, even bob, but super healthy. I still didn’t know what to do with it for those 5 segments, so in three, it looked good and the other two were so blah and a hot mess, really. I literally cringe when I review those clips.

So two weeks ago today, before flying to Tampa, I walked into Hair Cuttery of all places, without a plan, on a total whim, in pouring rain and asked Victoria to just cut it off.

I quickly Googled “assymetrical short hair cuts on black women” and came up with a few images I liked. Some were over the top and others were closer to what I’d do. The only issue, and a big one, is that every single one them rocked it straight. I was not getting ready to go down the road of blowing out and flat ironing my hair.

After two years of diligently working on being all natural, not straightening once in 2.5 years, I just wasn’t going to go back to that. Beyond the heat damage I’d been avoiding, I just don’t have time to deal with my hair. I like to wash and and go.

But if I went super short, then my curls would be on top of my head and I’d instantly be rocking a ‘fro. Did not want that either.

So I cut it short enough to get rid of all the dead hair, going way shorter on the right side, giving me a whole new look, but long enough where I wouldn’t look too crazy when curly.

I got on the plane, took a selfie (you know how much I loathe them!) and shared with a friend. She loved it and approved.

But in the midst of getting ready for the segments, I’d stop every few hours and stare… and send my sis and a good girlfriend these selfies. I needed some kind of ‘it’s okay’ affirmation.

I started liking this new length…

Until I went on air with a new look.

I Instagrammed the pic above of the host of the segment and me right after we taped and that’s how I showed my friends and family that I had cut my hair.

Great response! Everyone loved it, but me. And truthfully, while it may have looked good on camera from the front, I wasn’t 100% convinced. The sides looked messy. I missed my length. I missed my highlights and I certainly missed my curls. I had worked so incredibly hard to get my 2005-2012 hair back. And I hated that I had to cut it.  The still images from the set highlighted the unevenness and lackluster layers it was supposed to have.

And so I took another selfie! It looked like this below after taping, on my way out of the studios, with a look of, ‘oh my gosh! I wonder how that looked on air?!‘ And ‘is this really my new look?!

Six hours after I got back to DC and analyzed it more, I decided I needed another 1″ cut. Only to create more drama and more definition. I mean, if I was going to go short, I might as well do it right. That was the 2nd cut in 4 days.

No picture of that 2nd round.

And then by last Wednesday, I threw my hands up and went as short as I initially had in mind but was too afraid to do. But I did it. Another 1″ off. A totally new look and the shortest curly hair ever, which I’m not ready to show yet.

Finalmente, this is it. 

My dear friends Paul and Michelle and me after church on Sabbath.
Paul & Michelle; Moi wearing Maz Azria pleated skirt, L.A.M.B shoes, Eileen Fisher metallic top; vintage jewelry; YSL cat’s eye sunnies

A side view, taken unbeknownst to me.

Dad and me on Father’s Day.

My dad and me on Father’s Day.  Wearing a kaftan from Mexico; Elliott Lucca crossover bag; DVF sunnies

I’ve not worn my hair this short or this dark (though temporarily and accidentally went espresso brown in 2008 for about 3 weeks) in almost 20 years. It was a hard and emotional decision for me. But I think I’ll be okay with it. For now.

After all, it’s just hair. And the most important thing is that it get healthy again.

Take care of your self, friends! Your health is your wealth as my father has consistently taught me.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Yay or Nay? What’s your favorite short do? 

Don’t miss my segment on ABC’s  ‘Positively Tampa Bay’ talking about summer fashion and beauty trends! 

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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2 thoughts on “Chronicles of Unhealthy Hair: A New Do

  1. Bren, I absolutely love the shortest version. It looks fantastic. I know it will take a while to get used to but it looks HOT! I feel you on the hair issues. I really do. I've shed quite a few tears about my own hair. I even have nightmares about it. It's easy to say "it's just hair" until it's your hair.

  2. It's hard I know. I know all about it. But for real sis, it looks good. I'm sorry you had to cut it though. That part I am sorry about. It'll get better!

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