How To React to a Loved One's Big Chop
At some point in your life, you have or will come across a woman who makes the decision to do the big chop. As her friend, it is your duty to keep it one hundred with her while also remaining supportive. But here’s the thing. Her head belongs to her and her alone. Your personal hair issues belong to you and you alone. Her head and your issues should not mix.
Let's say you and your homegirl meet up for brunch. The last time you saw her, she was pressed, laid and snatched by the goddesses. But today she is ordering her mimosa and spinach frittata with a bald head. What do you say? What do you do?
Here is a handy little guide to go back to you when your friends go through big chops and you get caught in your feelings.
What You Want To Say: “What did you do THAT for?”
What You Should Say: “Wow! What a big change! What inspired your transformation?”
When I first big chopped, I swear on my life, people just blurted out “what did you do THAT for??” with looks of horror and shock. For some women, a big chop is a really emotional experience that requires a significant amount of personal strength and courage. Just asking why they did it sets the stage for tension, defensiveness and your friend completely shutting down. Curiosity is okay and is welcomed. Just do right by your friend and acknowledge your curiosity from a place of love and support.
What You Want To Say: “You have a face for it. At least you have a nice shaped head!”
What You Should Say: “You look great!”
I get these backhanded compliments regularly. Quite frankly, a backhanded compliment is actually a passive-aggressive insult. What you’re really saying is “Damn girl, be glad your ass ain't ugly otherwise you’d be in trouble.” When you begin any statement with “At least…”, you are communicating that she’s made a huge mistake with her personal decision and the shape of her head is saving her from living a life under a bridge as a troll. Just say she looks nice or quietly sip your mimosa and ask about the weather. It’s really that simple.
What You Want To Say: “You should wear big earrings and lipstick. Lots of lipstick!”
What You Should Say: “You can do so much with this look. The options are limitless!”
When I first big chopped, everyone in the salon started bombarding me with “advice” on how to carry myself. They told me I should wear big earrings, bright lipstick and dresses. What’s really going on here is an unwelcomed projection of a run-of-the-mill/industry standard ideal of femininity. Wearing short and natural hair does not interfere with femininity in the least bit. So, by making a suggestion like this, you are essentially telling your friend that unless she buys stock in Urban Decay, her lady points are trash and she should give-up and adopt seven cats.
What You Want To Say: “It will grow back”
What You Should Say: “You look great!”
Add to the list, “It’s really short” and “But your hair was so pretty!” or “Have you ever heard of Hairfinity?”
I know my hair is short. I was made very aware of it when my stylist took a set of clippers to my head. Your friend understands that her hair was pretty. She also needs you to understand that her hair is pretty now and always will be. And if so inclined, her shiny bald head will be pretty also.
We need inclusion, support, and encouragement. What we don’t need is judgment through a series of questions and comments. Instead of mourning the loss of our hair, celebrate the birth of our newly found freedom.
What You Want To Say: “What did your significant other say?”
What You Should Say: Nothing. Just say nothing.
I think it’s safe to say that the opinion of a significant other regarding our looks is always worth noting. However, those opinions aren't anything worth anchoring our lives on. How a significant other feels about me is up to them. They SHOULD appreciate me regardless of the length and texture of my hair.
Asking how a significant other feels about the way your friend looks is intrusive and shifts the power away from her personal decision to their personal opinion of a second party. In the off chance, you ask this question anyway and she happens to share negative feedback, that’s where you jump in. At that time, it is your duty to remind her that the reason she decided to big chop in the first place was because she decided to take full control of our lives and that the opinion of others simply don’t matter. Remind us that the only opinions that matter are our own and our mama.