BIG CHOP DIARIES - Danielle: I Was Just Like, Cut it All Off!

BIG CHOP DIARIES - Danielle: I Was Just Like, Cut it All Off!

Name: Danielle

Age: 28

Hair type: 3C/4A

In daily life I am a social media manager. I am also better known on social media as 'Kruintjes' and I want to see if I can turn that into my business in the future. I think it would be fun to turn my social media persona into a fire.

Okay Danielle, tell me about the first time you thought about doing the Big Chop?

To start at the beginning: I was born in Suriname and moved to Curaçao when I was three. There was a girl at my school at the time who had the same hair type as me, but I think her mother always straightened it out. It was always long and beautiful. And I was so jealous because I always had my hair in the two well-known braided pigtails. When I was eleven, my mother took me to a Dominican hairdresser to blow-dry my hair. My hair was long, straight and I was super happy with it!

When we moved to the Netherlands, my mother said: “Listen Daniëlle, you are going to high school and from now on you will have to take care of your hair yourself and therefore comb it yourself.” This was the moment I straightened my hair for the first time when I was 12. I was so happy with it. Just like Ashanti in the “Happy” clip, I stood in my room in front of the mirror singing along because I had the same haircut as her. Little did I know that she was probably just wearing a wig or extensions.

I went to high school in Rotterdam and there were so many ladies with curly hair around me. Although I really liked that, I wasn't actively working on it. When I started working I also had to pay for my own hairdressing visits. As a 17 year old, 35 euros every month is quite a hefty amount to spend. As a result, I postponed touching up my roots for two or three months. I kept this up for quite a long time. Every now and then I kept it nice and smooth, occasionally I felt like curling. The “solution” was to just wet my hair often so that I had a kind of straight, curly ugly thing on my head.

It wasn't until after the autumn holidays in 2009 that I told my hairdresser that I didn't feel like straightening anymore and then I was left with a few months of regrowth! So it wasn't that I thought “I want to go natural!” but more like, “I don't want to straighten anymore” . It was quite a coincidence that the whole “going natural movement” came over from America. It was in 2010 when I really got tired of that transitional period. “Just cut it all off!” In May 2010 I was officially natural. The end result was that my hair was slightly longer than I have now (see image below). That was the first time I had done the Big Chop, but I actually didn't even think of it as a Big Chop at the time. After the first Big Chop I couldn't handle my hair well, I used the wrong products and tried (too many) different ones. At the time I was doing an internship in Suriname and because of the climate my hair still grew very well.

My hair was a little longer then than in the photo here

Fast forward to 2012. Every now and then I straightened my hair with the hair straightener, and I also dyed it! That year I did a photo shoot with my honeybrown blonde color and only then did I notice how damaged my hair was. It was still a nice afro, but at the ends of my afro you could just see through it.

 Okay, but what really was the main reason for doing the second big chop?

The thing that really convinced me to do the second big chop was because my hair wasn't growing how I wanted and I had scalp problems. Sometimes I had such extreme itching that it kept me awake. I had lived in Barcelona for a while which had only exacerbated these complaints. Out of sheer frustration, I started considering shaving my hair off completely in order to properly care for my scalp and get it healthy. When I moved back to the Netherlands, the medicine the doctor prescribed helped a lot and my scalp was healthy again. Because I was really considering the Big Chop, I had collected a lot of sample hairstyles and was secretly thinking about still doing it. It kept nagging at me and then I just decided to take the plunge. I also looked into the possibility of hair donation, but unfortunately my hair was just not long enough for that.

Danielle Big Chop 2

 What was your own reaction after doing the second Big Chop? What were the reactions of others?
August 19, 2017: the hairdresser had no mercy. She made a ponytail in the middle of my head and cut it off. It was immediately no way back. And sure enough, back there she put the clippers in my hair. And I was like: “Oh my god, oh my god, OMG!” My heart was really in my throat and I also thought “I can't believe I'm actually doing this!” My hair, which took me 7 years to grow so long, was gone within 3 minutes. When she was finally done I thought, “IT'S AMAZING, I LOVE IT!” I felt sooo free! My mother was there for mental support and she thinks that I should often do what I want. Luckily she liked me.

I didn't tell my father and stepmother that I was going to cut my hair. I had done my Big Chop during their holiday. When they saw me without hair, my stepmother looked at me with her mouth open and the first thing my father said was, “Oh, now you look like me!”

I received two types of reactions from outsiders who already knew me with my afro. Some were surprised and thought it was great that I had done it. The others were very shocked and needed some time to get used to it. Ultimately, those who said it wouldn't suit me thought it suited my face. In addition, there are always people who keep asking when I'm going to let my hair grow again. Those who met me just after the Big Chop find it strange that I once had long hair.

The only thing I was concerned about was the kind of men who would approach me. “Would I still be 'attractive'? Will I still look like a female?” I got those kinds of thoughts because I was just used to my hair. Your hair obviously determines how people see you. Every now and then when I look at photos from last summer, it looks like I'm wearing a wig.

Men used to come up to me and give me compliments like, “Your hair is so dope.” And then I think: “But I'm not my hair”. Sure, I had a big afro, but my hair wasn't so much my identity. The song 'I am not my hair' by India.Arie was really appropriate at such moments. My hair does match my identity, but it is not entirely who I am. When I walked down the street I forgot that I had an afro and now I often forget that I have almost no hair. In the end 'it's just hair' that contributes to, but is not the only thing that makes you special.

Is this hairstyle you have now also the look you have kept since then?
Yes, for now I'll keep it short. It's nice and easy and I still want to try so many things with short hair, so many hairstyles, so many lines, so many things. Now I leave it for a little longer with the aim of letting it grow and dye. I would like it to be a crazy color like dusty pink.

And do you also use all-natural products or do you not really pay attention to that?

When my scalp started to bother me around 2015, I started paying attention to the products I used. Because of the itching I had, I switched from storebought products to 100% natural. I followed various (international) hair gurus on YouTube and tried different things. Among other things, I used apple cider vinegar instead of shampoo and made my own whipped shea butter mix. Now I have some favorite products that I know my hair responds well to.

On a different note, I have heard that many women who have done a big chop often start something new in their lives. Is this true? And was this also the case with you?

What I heard is that your hair changes every seven years. My relationship ended last year and they say “You always have a chance to get your ex-girlfriend back, but once she cuts her hair, its over! It's a whole new her.” For me it doesn't necessarily feel like I'm starting something new, but rather the coincidental coming together of different events in my life.

 Finally, do you have any tips for the people who read this and are unsure about doing the Big Chop?

You really have to want it! Don't do it if you're doing it because you're tired of your hair or as a short-term solution. You've usually been thinking about that thought for a while. If you are not completely ready for it, you will regret it anyway.

If you're thinking about it and it's not the first time you thought of it, just do it. It's just hair. It's growing back! It's the best feeling ever. And as for the men coming towards me, there are so many different men coming towards me. Completely different types, but also exactly the same types. So hair has nothing to do with you as a person.

Ultimately: it is so relieving! And sometimes you don't need to worry about nailing a certain hairstyle… ;-)

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