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8 Women Share How They Own Their Buzz Cuts

"A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life."

Human Interest

Coco Chanel said, "A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life." Muva was speaking the truth because a hair cut provides liberation and freedom for so many women.

It is especially hard for women of color to choose to embrace that freedom because our culture romanticizes long, thick hair. The moment you tell your mom, aunt, or play cousin that you plan to cut your hair, they will act as if someone died. For decades, it has been instilled in us that our hair represents our crowns. This means cutting your hair signifies being stripped of your glory.

Well, that is over and done because it's a new year, and we have the right to decide what our crowns bespeak. From rocking 4C kinky hair to donning a buzz cut, the choice is yours.

Rocking a buzz cut has to be the one of the boldest moves a woman of color can make. Thankfully, there are some daring and beautiful women living life unapologetically and wearing their buzz cuts with confidence and ease – these are their stories.

Jacinda

@Adultsdrink

I decided to cut my hair the summer of 2017 because my hair was severely damaged, and I was really growing tired of my ordinary look. I also wanted to challenge myself and detach myself from my hair, since my hair was part of my identity then. As soon as I shaved my hair off, I immediately fell in love with my buzz cut and felt like a redefined individual. I felt free to be quite honest. I was breaking gender norms and embracing my baldness.

My shaved head reminds me that beauty is within and doesn't equate to how long your hair is.

Hair is just an accessory some people choose to rock more than others. Hair isn't a necessity for me; it's more like costume jewelry. Regardless of how people choose to rock their hair, buzz cuts should not be associated with just men. Buzz cuts are unisex hairstyles.

Lolayé Dubiose

@lolaye_d

My first chop was in July 2012 and I haven't looked back since. I had a decent length of hair growing up and I was always told, "You won't be cute without hair," or "Your hair is what makes you." I never understood how having hair could define a person and I was sick of hearing it, so I headed to my nearest barbershop and told him to go for it.

One of the best decisions I've ever made.

I just recently tried to dye my hair gray after being blonde for months, and it magically turned pink… I have no idea or scientific explanation for it (laughs). But I decided to embrace change and OWN my pretty pink buzz cut by rocking it effortlessly!

Tumelo Moliko

@tumi_moliko

Living in South Africa as a young black woman, I've had to find creative ways of redefining the buzz cut in a way that showcases my personality best.

I color my hair, shave letters into my hair, maybe even add glitter if I'm in the mood; or sometimes I just wake up and leave my hair to do what it does best, shrink into beautiful little coils on the top of my head. I used to find myself grabbing any accessory and makeup product to put on, just to make up for the absence of hair on my head, however, I have now come to learn the true essence of owning my buzz cut.

Firstly, I had to fall in love with my revamped self and then, I had to confidently allow the world to see my cranium in its true element. From there, owning my buzz cut has become so effortless, yet so impactful on my being.

I've realized that being in high school and cutting your hair off completely is a BRAVE MOVE because judgment is inevitable. Being able to conquer my fear of judgment really did empower me in so many aspects of life. I shaved my hair off at 16 because I no longer wanted my hair to be perceived as an extension of my personality. I was known as the girl with the bob cut, and constantly complimented on my hair.

I no longer wanted my hair to own me.

Hair is praised in society and steers discrimination in many South African schools today. On the other end of things, a woman that does not have hair (whether it be by choice or not) is judged frequently by so many people in society because it goes against the norm.

In grade 10, I started feeling as though my identity no longer belonged to me. I felt as though my identity was now made up of physical things, including the strands growing out of my scalp. That's when I decided to be brave and stood in front of the mirror, picked up the clippers, and shaved all my hair off. I have felt empowered, liberated, and truly myself ever since. Owning my buzz cut meant repossessing my true self. I wouldn't change the experience for the world.

Shay

@ShayGlam00

I chose to cut my hair as a form of expression and to make me feel more confident.

Art is an outlet for me. Cutting my hair happens to be the best form of expression for me now. Before I decided to cut my hair, I was feeling uninspired. I was stressed out, I wasn't focused, and I was kinda depressed. It felt like nothing was going right, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I felt like I was wasting my talents, I felt like I wasn't good at it, I was losing myself and didn't care about things I loved. I had to get rid of that doubt and get out of that mindset. I've been through some tough times in my life and one thing that was always with me was my hair. My hair was there when I was sad, inspired, stressed, happy, motivated, and depressed.

Art had always been a way to express myself. I've always been daring with hair colors and other forms of creating but this time, I wanted to cut it all off. So the night before I got it cut while I was sleeping, I sorted through all of my feelings and any doubts and any reminders that stopped me from wanting to be great. When I woke up that morning, I was determined to feel better, do better, and live better. With every shave, I was close to feeling like a new person.

So now every time I cut my hair I'm freeing my body, my mind, and spirit of any negative vibes and starting over. To top it off, I'll dye my hair a new color.

Cutting my hair gave me a sense of power and confidence.

You have to be a strong and daring woman to rock a buzz cut. I own my cut by living in my confidence. Now my room isn't the only place I feel confident, I'm confident everywhere I go! I smile back at people that smile and stare at me instead of looking at my phone or walking in another direction. Honey, I own every room I walk in now.

Morgan Bryant

I originally chose to cut all my hair off in 2009 to release myself from all the "good hair, bad hair" ideals I grew up with.

I know I'm not the only black girl who grew up telling people, "I have Indian in my family" just to give the impression that my hair would somehow be better because I was "mixed."

I have cut my hair and let it grow out many times since then, but this is the first time I have truly loved being bald! I enjoy the attention I get when I walk into a space and people are taken aback that my confidence is just as strong without hiding behind a bunch of hair. I serve face! I even started an Instagram page @baldgirlmagic and hashtag #BaldGirlMagic to celebrate beautiful bald women like myself. Whether you lost your hair from chemo or you chose to shave it, we all belong to this really cool club!

Sienna Brown

@jewsie

I own my buzz cut by simply being myself.

Six years ago, when I first cut my hair, I was uncertain about how I would be viewed. Not having hair has really allowed me to discover the best parts of myself and provide me with the confidence needed to go through life full-speed.

I am proud of the woman I am and the woman I'm becoming. I truly don't see me ever growing it out!

Khendra Harris

@bigbuttbaldy

It's been almost 8 years now since I've cut my hair, and my reason for cutting it at 20 turning 21 was because weaves were expensive (laughs). I'd just wanted to try something new, finally getting to the legal drinking age.

I wasn't really thinking of the freedom that I was about to feel.

My reason for keeping it cut became so much more than just saving money. I'd felt so liberated, so open! I had nothing to hide behind.

I've owned having my short cut by being unapologetically me, no matter where I go.

By not being shy when walking into a barbershop filled with men, and by not being afraid to show the women in my family that there are many different standards of beauty.

Destiny Owusu

@ohwawa_

I own my buzz cut in the most beautiful way.

I chose to cut my hair 5 years ago because I wanted a new look. Something to make me look more edgy and show off my beautiful features, especially my cheekbones, more. I feel like if you can rock a low cut, you can rock anything.

Hair doesn't define beauty, YOU define beauty.

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Originally published on April 3, 2018

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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