In the NFL, coaches like to muster a team’s energy and focus with a certain call to action. The words are simply, “Control the line.” “The line” in this case refers to the line of scrimmage–the place where either team tries to gain an advantage over the other by pushing the other team farther away from the line rather than allowing them to cross it and gain yardage.
As I transition from my permed hair to my natural hair, I, too, must control a line: the line of demarcation. Simply put, it is the line where my newer, natural hair ends and the old, permed hair begins.
In the picture above, you can clearly see two different textures of hair: a curlier set of strands growing from the root, and the straighter hair that will eventually be cut off. At the point where the hair texture changes is the unseen: fragile, chemically damaged tresses that can take hours to whip into shape. Did I mention that 2-textured hair is also schizophrenic? My natural hair can enjoy our pantry shelves to the fullest. My permed hair? Not so much. As recently as about a month ago, I decided to treat my natural hair to its favorite deep conditioner–a ripe avocado with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of olive oil. (It’s a great facial mask, too, for those of us with dry skin). My natural hair did a happy dance–shiny, silky, and soft. My permed hair didn’t speak to me for days. It took me 4 hours to detangle my hair, and I came to the realization that even a teaspoon of honey is too much honey for the relaxed portion of my hair.
It’s no wonder that I meet other women online transitioning to their natural hair, and just as I think I’ve found a comrade in the struggle process, they write that they’ve either given up altogether, or that they “BC”-ed, or rather “big chopped,” the common hair-board term for cutting all of your permed hair off and beginning fresh with a relatively little bit of natural hair.
Eight months into my transition, there are a couple of reasons that a big chop would make sense at this point. The first and foremost reason to cut off all of my permed hair would be to alleviate all of what I described above. With one texture to manage, I would no longer have to worry about whether all of my hair could handle a given product, or whether this particular comb/ brush/ [name your tool] will help this type of hair, but break these tresses, etc. I could give the hair I want what it likes and needs without regard to how the old hair will respond. I could pick hairstyles without the anxiety of whether the style is right for me at this season in my transition. In general, I could experience a freedom that alludes me as of today.
Earlier in my transition, a big chop would have been out of the question. It’s taken a while to have enough new hair to chop something off and still see possibilities! Even the picture of my two textures was taken in May. I have about 2-4 inches of new hair, dependent upon where you are on my head; that’s enough for a nice Angela Davis-like fro.
(Then again, maybe not).
Despite all the convenience and ease of care that a natural coif promises to bring, my choice–at least for today–is to continue the more gradual transition to natural hair. For one thing, I’d probably stay happily married a bit longer (smile). My husband likes longer hair, and though I could not have asked for a more supportive mate in this process, I realize that this is a transition for him, too. He likes the softness of my new-found curls, but I also notice that each time I have more of the permed, straighter hair cut off, he has to regroup, to put it mildly. Of course, how much hair is cut is deceptive, since the curlier hair coils and consequently looks shorter, but that’s all in the mind. What is visible to the eye is significantly shorter hair.
I’ll admit that I like longer hair, too, making me more reluctant to perform the big chop. I love the flexibility of being able to pull my hair back if I don’t want to wear it down, and I don’t have to concern myself with all of the styling products since my new hair is still growing in. I can focus on the health and strength of what I have without the pressure to be glamorous. It’s funny: when I first began this transition, I had a mental image of me with hair as short as my husband’s. Since then, I’ve seen head after head of beautiful styles that would fit my personality to a “t.” Finally, I have enough questions on my own about my hair–what type of hair do I have, what products it will eventually enjoy, and what is the look that I ultimately want (determined primarily by what will allow me to minister most effectively)–to not rush the work that is happening here both inwardly and outwardly. Also, just as with homeschooling, I’ve had to speak from a place of confidence long before I actually had it. Thus, I’d prefer to just learn to love this “new me” who looks a bit different each month.
Any given NFL team has up to 18 weeks, including post-season games, to control the line. With the good Lord’s help, I’m going to take about 18 months to manage mine. Pray for me, saints. God bless.