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Pros and Cons of the Big Chop

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Ah the infamous big chop. The cause of endless natural hair debates and transitioning girl’s nightmares. For those of you unfamiliar with natural hair lingo, allow us to explain a little more. Basically, the natural hair process can be broken down into two categories, transitioning or the big chop. Transitioning is when someone opts to not cut their hair and instead maintains their hair while the relaxer grows out. The big chop is when someone decides to cut their relaxed ends in order to be completely natural. As simple as that sounds the big chop is not something to be taken lightly. It is seen as a pivotal moment in a natural girl’s life that can make or break their natural experience. With that in mind deciding whether or not doing the big chop is for you is crucial.

So we decided to help make that decision a little easier by breaking down some of the pros and cons of doing the big chop.


You WON’T have to deal with two different textures - It never fails. There is always someone who has these wonderful plans to transition for 10 years…only to give in and cut it off 6 months later. Why? Because managing two different textures is the stuff nightmares are made of. Doing the big chop will allow you to get acquainted with your hair without spending insane amounts of time trying to get your ever growing natural hair to blend with permed ends that only seem to stick straight out. Plus you won’t have to walk around looking like a cocker spaniel.

Learning your hair - Your hair will do things you didn't know it could. You may have a curl pattern you didn't know you had. Everyday seems to be a new hair discovery. It’s exciting, exhilarating, and informative….all at the same time. Big chopping allows you to learn your hair sooner rather than later.

It’s cheaper - No longer will you have to wait in that black hole of a hair salon where time doesn't matter. Nor will you have to pay hundreds of dollars for someone else to manage your hair. There are countless blogs (including this one), videos, websites, forums, etc that have great tutorials to help you manage your own hair regardless of length and without having to pay an enormous fee. There are also many products to benefit your hair that cost way less than one salon visit.


Learning your hair all over again - I know this was also a point in the pro column, but let’s be honest. Learning anything has its up and downs. Natural hair is no different. As fun and informative as relearning your hair may be, you still have to LEARN. Which means for months it will be trial and error to determine what products and styles work best for your length and texture. Some days will be incredibly awesome hair days. And other days, despite your best efforts, you will look insane. The key is to never give up. Once you learn your hair it gets easier.

A lengthy matter - Depending on when you cut your hair in the transitioning process you may be left with a fair amount of hair...or barely any at all. And although it is fun to fantasize about having the big corkscrew curls of your favorite natural hair guru, the reality of the situation is, that may be a long time coming.

Any number of naturals will tell you that one of the hardest phases was right after the big chop. When your hair is too short to be long, but too long to be considered short. Some questions to consider would be:

How do I style an inch worth of hair?

How will I act when I realize I truly do not have the length I used to?

What happens when I get tired of doing the same hairstyles my length and experience will allow?

Insecurities - You have had hair on your head for your entire life. Now you don’t. Your hair could go from down your back to a few inches with a few snips. That fact alone can put a major dent in your self-esteem. You never truly realize how much you may have hidden behind your hair, until it’s not there anymore.

I received my last perm in March of 2007. I couldn't take the maintenance of two different textures. So, I did the big chop in July. Which meant I was now working with a bald fade. Nothing really prepares you for the absence of hair. You become irrational. After 2 weeks of rocking my fade I went to the hair store and bought my first wig. It was a straight up Auntie wig…you know the kind that doesn't have to be in the sun for it shine; The kind with the stark white plastic part with the Barbie doll like hair to match. Yea, that wig. I made my first foray into wigdom not because I had to have that particular unit. I just wanted hair on my head. I wanted to blend in if only for a couple of days. And if a synthetic auntie wig with a swoop bang would do the trick, then so be it.

Fortunately for you, times have changed and there are better wig options.

Where wigs come in.

Having, or attempting to have, natural hair should not be a traumatic experience. There are so many people that give up and go back to perms because they were not really prepared. Whether you decide to do the big chop or transition, wigs can be very beneficial in your process.

If you decide to make a longer transition rather than commit to the big chop a wig would be a perfect alternative. I mean how fly would the Jill wig be on days you want a kinky look without dealing with two different textures?

If you decided to do the big chop but still want to switch it up every now and again, the popular Naomi wig is also perfect for days when you feel like Beyonce even if your hair looks crazy in love underneath.

The bottom line, understand that as African American women you have the distinct pleasure and ability to change your hair whenever you feel like. And that is awesome! Why not take advantage of that by incorporating wigs into your hair regime?

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