“I see you've had your little Waiting to Exhale moment."
That was the comment my sorority sister made when she saw me with my haircut for the first time. The thick, kinky-curly locks that went past my shoulders had been sheared off in favor of a much shorter tapered look.
I wondered if she really thought that my new 'do was man-inspired. I didn't blame her. It's common for a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend or husband to cut off nearly all her hair like Bernadette did in Waiting to Exhale.
But me? I'd been single for quite some time. I just wanted the 'fro gone because it was too much work! Or so I thought...
It wasn't until many months later I realized that deep down, I'd wanted a break from the past, too. And I got much more than that.
I didn't expect to undergo the mental transformation that I did. After my haircut, I questioned myself in ways I hadn't since high school.
Am I beautiful without long hair? I wondered.
Thoughts like that made me panic. Did the self-esteem I'd spent over 23 years building really shatter in an hour's worth of hair cutting?
Sure, I found pride in the numerous compliments my bold curls would garner, but I never saw myself as attached to my hair. Frankly, I'd hated my hair, not because I didn't think it was beautiful, but because it took entirely too long to style. (I'm lazy.)
I thought the freedom to wake up and go for once would cancel out any reservations I'd have about the new cut. Having an edgy cut would be more fun and unique; no longer would I blend in among the sea of afros. I knew I'd absolutely love it.
However, it took me quite a while to get used to being “near bald-headed." Sometimes I'd even wake up, look in the mirror, and go in shock over what I'd done.
So…why do I want this for you? Why insist that every woman question her beauty, as if the media doesn't give us enough cause for that already?
In the end, the unencumbered freedom, greater sense of self, and symbolic emotional healing I gained made me wonder why all women don't cut their hair!
Read more about the positive effects I experienced after cutting off my hair.
We all know that women, black women in particular, spend entirely too much time and money on their hair. I mean, have you seen the hair care aisle? Men have a few shelves. We have an aisle.
Black women have entire beauty supply stores! The Black hair care industry is even valued at almost $500 billion!
We're constantly inundated with hair ads and shampoo commercials and videos of gorgeous, extension-laden celebs. Hair, hair, hair!
Before you go on a date, what do you have to worry about? Makeup, outfit, and hair. Before a job interview? Outfit, interview prep, hair. Before you leave the house in general? Hair is always a concern!
That's not to say that having short hair is a walk in the park, either. But when I had short hair, I cut my wash day to a mere wash hour. Styling time went from an hour and a half to 15 minutes!
I wasn't overly worried about how to tame her (my hair is a she) or what impression she'd help me make because she was barely there, unlike my can't-ignore-it 'fro.
Having the ability to wake up and go most days caused me to lessen the importance I have on my hair. You don't realize how much value you place on your hair until you don't have any.
I gained a sense of freedom I'd never had. I'd always had too much damn hair.
I felt freer, lighter and not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense because I had more room to just focus on me, the real me, sans luscious locks, which brings me to my next point.
Greater Sense of Self
Men love long hair. That's no secret. Here's a secret: so do you.
It's not your fault. Society conditions men and women to go heart eyes over long, flowing hair. It's the standard of beauty.
Most of us won't realize how deep-seated this love for long hair is. A lot of us will even deny this internalized European standard of beauty, claiming that we love ourselves regardless of if our hair is two or twenty-two inches long.
“I am not my hair," we will say. And then we shear off our beloved hair and later that night, gawk in disbelief at our reflection as ridiculous worries seep out:
Will my hair ever grow back? Am I still attractive to men? Is my curl-free, short, natural hair beautiful?
Am I still beautiful?
Questioning your beauty makes you question your inner self. Maybe you had a good grasp of who you were before, but now you must reconfigure yourself as someone who is able to find her beauty with or without long hair.
Will you be someone who finds her power in her hair or will you reject that notion of womanhood? Are you someone who has the courage to go against what nearly everyone considers “beautiful" or do you readily go with society's standards because that's what's comfortable?
Cut off your hair and see. Because not only will you gain this clearer picture of yourself, but you'll gain a newfound strength and confidence in your femininity. And that's not even the best benefit…
Symbolic Emotional Healing
It's a peculiar feeling to watch your hair float to the floor, and then study it as it decorates the tiling, while coming to the sobering realization that it's no longer connected to your head. I am now a bald-headed bitch, you think. Or, for those less ratchet, I really don't have hair anymore.
I can only describe it as a mixture of fear, excitement, worry, but one other emotion is most prominent: relief. Oh what a great relief!
Maybe you're like me and don't even notice when you're lugging around too much emotional baggage until you see your strands severed, and with it feel simultaneous severing from past pain and emotional healing. Or maybe you're more in tune with your emotions and revel in your now unburdened back. Your load is almost weightless. It's light.
Here's the thing: that long-standing joke that women cut their hair when they're going through something–it's true, but those women get the last laugh. There are very few material things that you can shed in such a short amount of time and with it feel the immediate, deep impact that cutting off your hair gives you.
We talk about cutting off toxic people and things every New Year. It's easy to delete a phone number or throw away those brownies (mostly), but how easy is it to cut off the memory of the one you love telling you it's over or the deep-rooted self-hatred that drove you into a depression or the image of a text message with words that disrupt your entire world or the echo of your family members' voices saying you'll never be any good? Now imagine it being as easy as a snip!
Cutting off your hair won't heal the wound in its entirety, but it will pour on that soothing balm and get the healing process started. It's been a time-worn, crucial first step for countless women and take it from me, it feels damned good!
*Originally published on The Next Train's Coming; Featured image by Shutterstock.
Layla A. Reeves is a 20-something freelance writer, copy editor, and ESL teacher who's still trying to figure this life thing out, never mind adulting. She's lived overseas in Spain, but only mentions that when she wants to feel better about not knowing what she's doing. Read more of her musings on her blog.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The Libra woman and Aries man are the divine feminine and divine masculine, coming together as one. The love compatibility between these two is one for the books. These two are opposite signs, however, their differences tend to complement each other well. This is a dynamic relationship where they know how to have a lot of fun together, but also aren’t afraid to deal with the more serious stuff that comes with a relationship.
The Libra woman is looking for her equal in love, someone who is willing to put in the same effort she is, and the Aries man sees Libra as someone he is willing to do that with.
The Love Compatibility Of A Libra Woman And An Aries Man
What attracts a Libra woman and an Aries man to each other?
There is a magnet of attraction pulling these two together, and things tend to move pretty fast in this relationship. The Libra woman is always open to love and her charming nature rarely has any challenges here. The Aries man fights for his independence and doesn’t sacrifice that unless he is completely enamored with someone.
Once the Aries man catches the eye of the Libra woman, he is typically the one to make the first move and this instantly wins the approval of Libra.
These two feel like they have known each other forever when they meet, and this spark between them doesn’t die down easily.
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What is the relationship like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The relationship between the Libra woman and the Aries man is one of balance and excitement. The Aries man tends to take on the more dominant role in this relationship and the Libra woman tends to be the more receptive one. Aries is ruled by masculine Mars, and Libra is ruled by feminine Venus. They understand they are coming from two completely different worlds, yet they also instinctively feel this underlying connection to each other and like they could be something each other needs in their lives.
The Libra woman can rely on the Aries man, and the Aries man never has to ask for the love that Libra already knows he needs.
This is a couple that is often reading each other’s minds and wanting to do a lot of the same things. However, not everything is rainbow in this relationship as well, and there are some major differences they have to overcome to make things work. One argument can lead to an explosion between these two, and addressing things when they come up rather than sweeping them under the rug, will be needed to make this relationship long-term.
What is the sex like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The sex between a Libra woman and an Aries man is adventurous. These are two cardinal signs with plenty of energy and stamina to keep things exciting in the bedroom. There tends to be a good give and take in this relationship, and their yin and yang energy benefits them when it comes to their sex life.
There is electricity felt between the two of them in this area of their life, and their power of attraction to each other is strong. These are two people who will want to do a lot of things together, including exploring sexually together.
The Aries man will have to be careful with being overly aggressive, however, as the soft Libra woman may not like this energy- it will completely depend on the two individuals at hand. The Libra woman wants to ease into things, the Aries man wants to get going right away. Learning about each other's bodies, and energy, and reading each other’s cues will help with this.
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What makes a relationship between a Libra woman and an Aries man work?
These two genuinely like each other, and that basis is a key factor for success in any relationship. The Aries man is straight to the point, direct, and inspired. The Libra woman admires these characteristics in others, as she is often herself finding her balance in this type of energy as well. Neither sign is overly emotional in a way that turns them off, and they both require a lot of the same things in a committed relationship. They want honesty, fun, good communication, passion, and to be moving towards a common goal together.
The Libra woman and Aries man don’t have a problem being real with each other and this is something they really value within the relationship. They are both very charming, and there is plenty of flirtation and attraction to keep this relationship going. Aries being the protector they are, Libra finds a sense of safety and ease in this energy, and like they have found their match. Overall, this is a well-balanced relationship and one where they don’t have a problem when it comes to compatibility or chemistry in the relationship.
What may cause a Libra woman and an Aries man to break up?
Libra is the lover, Aries is the fighter, and this energy may be tiring for the both of them after time. The Libra woman can be passive to a fault, and the Aries man who is not evolved, may take advantage of that. She will need to be careful with putting Aries’ needs above her own, creating resentment later down the road. The Aries man loves a challenge, and the Libra woman would be up for that game for a little bit, but if she is not being met in the middle, she will begin to look for other places. These two can have a difficult time keeping the peace in the relationship, and there could be a lot of arguments and disagreements here if they both aren’t willing to put their egos or self-pleasing attitudes to the side.
The Libra woman and Aries man are both more sensitive than they appear or come off as. They are also not necessarily the type to dive deep into their emotions and express them to others, even in their relationships. However, this energy can keep the relationship to a surface level than what is needed to progress and grow the relationship, and a sense of openness is required for this couple to work. Libra needs romance, she wants to be wowed. Aries needs to remember this and to always consider her love language.
Overall, this is a successful pairing. They will have their fair share of challenges in the relationship, but nothing they can’t overcome if they are willing to. The trouble will come in when it comes to the longevity of the relationship, keeping Aries excited and Libra in love. However, all in all, there is more power, attraction, and love to keep this relationship together rather than apart. No relationship is perfect, but this one is a little more blessed than most.
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