Hi my name is Shantell and for the longest time I had (yes, boo, they finished) low self-confidence and self-worth. A lot of those things being attribute to the way the people around me treated the way I dressed, and particularly, the way my hair looked. I remember when my Family first moved down to Florida it was such a substantial change for not only me butt for all of us. I was ten when we moved and was starting Middle School in a whole new state, safe to say I was terrified. I packed up and left all of my friends and family behind to start a new life in a place where the only thing I really knew was Disney. Being at that age, there are a lot of changes on its own, the fact I moved hundreds of miles from anything that resembled familiarity sure as hell didn't help. With all this happening, I finally entered middle school I managed to make a few good friends, but as middle school stories tend to go, there was bullying. You see back in my day, if you wore you your natural hair, kids called you nappy headed. At the time, my mom was still doing my hair for me and as Jamaican women do; I went to school with two pig-tail braids, my multi-colored bubbles, and the little berets that where shaped as bows. Y'all know the ones. So, when I first started getting bullied at school, I really didn't understand what they were talking about. I thought I looked fresh to death. But the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months and it started to get to me, I started braking. I began wondering, 'why do people make fun of my hairline', 'Why don't the guys at school think I'm cute?', 'Why do they keep saying my hair is nappy and I need a perm(relaxer)'. I started coming home upset and my mom visibly noticed a change in my behavior and attitude. I was a lot more angry and irritated. Then one day, I came back my mom asked me ‘What’s wrong?’ I just responded, ‘ I’m ugly’ and she kept insisting that that wasn’t true; like the amazing and loving women that she is. But by that time I really didn’t believe it and for a long time, I didn’t. So I asked her if she would perm my hair for me, she didn’t ask much, she just said ‘alright, if that what you want’ and I did, I really wanted that. However, even after I went through all of that I was still bullied. People still called me names and made fun of my hair but to make matters worse my hair started breaking and falling out. So for the rest of my middle school years I watched my hair break and break until it was a little above my ears. For as long as I can remember my mother and my mother’s side of the family have had women with long hair. For those of you with Jamaicans in your family, you know they can be quite ‘critical’ of a few things regarding the women in the family. You can’t be ‘fat’ and you can’t have ‘short hair’ where the talking points of the older women in my family. I was a bigger kid growing and now I am a voluminously beautiful-- bald black women but from that I digress. Whenever I would meet up with family, it would always be the same story. 1. You need to lose weight and 2. You should let your hair grow. That being said, I looked for ways to ‘get long hair’ I wore wigs for about two and a half years during High School until one day I jumped in a pool at a pool party and it fell off. From that day forward I started my ‘natural journey’ which wasn’t really a journey at all. It was me haphazardly doing my hair in a natural and bandwagoning off of the freedom which is being natural when I didn’t even understand the movement. While subconsciously demonizing people that relaxed their hair, wore wigs or waves because of my own lack of self-confidence and self-hate, only using my experiences as a catch all for others people’s experiences. So this new form of self-hate carried on for a very long time, into college in fact. Until I studied abroad and met a Women that was truly confident in herself, her appearance, and her blackness. Would you believe I met this chick in Japan? Needless to say, that person changed my ideas about so many things and helped me see me for me, not how everyone expects me to be seen. I felt in those moments, that I wanted to cut my hair. Till this day I don’t have a real reason as to why I wanted to cut it off. So much had happened to me in that one year, so much growth. I felt like I needed to change something about me. Maybe not even change something but unlock something? Discard something? Like I said, till this day I still don’t know. But what I do know is that cutting has been one of the most transformative things I have done in my life and I feel like I cut away something from me but I can’t really explain it. But what I do know is I sure as hell didn’t need it.