Nappily ever after – how to find yourself after the big chop

Sanaa Lathan rocking her new 'do.
Sanaa Lathan rocking her new 'do.

The process of leaving your chemically straightened and/or coloured hair to choosing a completely natural ‘do is not always an easy one. 

You can choose to do the Big Chop (where you cut all your chemically treated hair off and embrace its natural roots) or you can decide to deal with two textures while waiting for your hair to grow out. 

The "big chop" journey is explored in "Nappily Ever After", an empowering Netflix film, based on the best selling novel by Trisha Thomas, set to be released on the 21st of September. The film centres around Violet Jones, played by Sanaa Lathan, a professional woman who finds that the issue of hair maintenance whether wearing wigs or weaves, impacts too heavily on her personal and work life.

READ MORE: Trust me, black women don't wear weaves because they aspire to be white

Netflix dropped the trailer for the much anticipated film earlier in August and it has already started a social media movement among women who have been through Violet's hair struggles themselves. The hashtag #NappilyEverAfter has become a safe space for women of colour on Twitter and Instagram to share their natural hair journeys while also praising the way Netflix has portrayed Afro-Caribbean hair in the film. 

Sanaa, who is known for her long black hair, had her own challenges to tackle when she cut all her hair off the role. She told Health magazine, "My character Violet is in crisis, and everything that she thought she knew is unraveling. So the emotions were all over the place for me, because I'm playing Violet, but I'm also shaving my head! It was actually really powerful and kind of weirdly cathartic and freeing." 

Learning how to love your natural hair is a process and not always for the fainthearted. You have to learn how to treat it (differently of course), nurture it, and give it a lot more attention. 

Much like Violet in the film, learning to embrace your natural hair is not easy especially when it involves cutting it all off first, as I have done myself. However, gone would be future chemical burns, and broken strands. Gone would be the expensive appointments to relax it every three months. Gone, the constant pressure to keep it perfectly straight and blow and flat iron it to within an inch of its life. 

READ MORE: Backlash over Kim K straightening North West's hair - who owns straight hair?

But I couldn’t have been the only person who struggled with their natural hair, so I went around asking other women how they felt about the journey and how they feel about their hair now.

Even your fave naturalistas have gone through the big chop in order to have the flourishing curls they have now!  

Nia The Light 

Nia The Light as she is known by her loyal supporters, became popular on instagram because of her beautiful curly mane. She created the 'Go With The 'Fro Tour' which I had the pleasure of attending last year. However, Nia shocked her followers when she decided to cut all her tresses off and start all over again. 

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I am Nia. ?? #NiaTheLight.

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Nia beautifully encapsulated what the big chop meant for her, "The last 31 days without my hair have been beyond fulfilling. Stripping off my source of confidence and validation allowed me to embark on a new journey of self love and confidence. It was no longer about the exterior but about the interior. I have been learning that although beauty is a magical thing, your soul needs to be fed with the right people and the right energy too. Waking up a little later and not having to invest 2 hours every wash day into my hair but into my well-being really emphasized how obsessed I was with this idea of perfection that didn't exist."


Robyn is a blogger at Be Whole whose hair is her signature now, but it wasn’t always easy getting there. “There have been days when I was near tears because of how much time my haircare routine was taking. If there’s one misconception that must be left in the dust about maintaining healthy natural hair, it’s that this journey is easy,” she says. 

“One doesn’t simply wash and go, especially with type 4 hair like mine,"

She used to prepare her hair two days in advance before an event when she first started out to achieve her desired style. Robyn says: “One doesn’t simply wash and go, especially with type 4 hair like mine, and I style my hair according to the LOC method, which means using six products on wash-day.”

READ MORE: My relationship with my natural hair is about as complicated as my relationship with my ex

She says she also fell into the trap of wanting her curls “to pop” at one point and that led to a shelf filled with lots of half-used products that didn’t actually work for her hair, but now after lots of trial and error, her journey is a lot less time consuming. 


Image: Supplied

Monique had what she calls a “mini Big Chop” in 2015 when she cut a huge chunk of her hair off and then it just started growing really well. 

She felt nervous about starting her journey, but also happy that she was doing it, but then she also had to endure comments from friends and family and even strangers that hurt her. “Now though, I've learned to deal with it, learned to ignore it, and educate people who are genuinely interested in the natural hair process. No, I've never wanted to go back! My hair looks good in its naturally bushy state or in a blow out - something I've never been able to get with chemicals,” says Monique.

" My hair looks good in its naturally bushy state or in a blow out - something I've never been able to get with chemicals"

READ MORE: The do's and don'ts of protective styling 

She says she fights with her hair a lot, but she loves it. And she says never to compare yourself to anyone else. “That doesn't just count for the hair journey, but in general. It's very easy to wish your curl was as defined as the next person, or that your hair was longer, or shorter, or kinkier, whatever! We all have our hang-ups, but the most important thing is to just learn what your hair is and how to best care for it - instead of wanting it to do what other people's hair does,” says Monique. 

How did you feel about your natural hair journey? Do you have a love hate relationship with it? Tell us about it.

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