Timi before

Timi before

There has only been one other time in my life when I had short hair. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I had a bald fade. Don't ask me why, I honestly have no idea. The next time I had short hair again was June 20, 2009, when I did my big chop. I had just turned 20 and I was still trying to figure out who I was. I was still an occasionally awkward and shy college student.

As I sat in that barber chair, as the chunks of hair fell to the ground, I realized that I could no longer hide behind my hair. Gone were the days where I could hide beneath the swoop of my side bangs. My neck had no covering. My ears had no more canopy. My eyebrows had no protective neighbors. I was naked, with no hair to hide behind.

Without hair surrounding my face, I saw my face for the first time. I saw the bright eyes of an eager learner. The straight nose of a inquisitive explorer. The full mouth of an enthusiastic entertainer. The scars of a bashful do-gooder. I was seeing myself naked for the first time and I liked what I saw.

Timi after

Timi after

The months of napturality that followed my big chop were tumultuous. There were some really good days when my 'fro looked like a Black Power fist and seemed to scream "I am woman, hear me roar!" and there were days were people would look at my shrunken fro and say "you had such good hair. What a waste." I also struggled with acne early in my teenage years that left with with scars on my cheeks. Because I knew I had no hair to hide behind, I had to learn to love every inch of me.

Every morning, when I had doubts about my beauty, I learned to speak words of affirmation to myself. I would, and I still do this occasionally, look in the mirror and say to myself "I love myself, I love myself!" Now that I have been natural for almost two years, I wonder why I ever hid in the first place. Now that I have nothing to hide, I am more confident. Letting go of my hair was like removing a safety net. At first, I was nervous without it but then I learned I could make bolder steps on my own. I can share my smile, my scars, and my off-beat sense of style with the world and show them who I am. I hope I can inspire people to live boldly and richly. Why hide when you can shine?