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Short Hair Confidence: Enjoying the 4c TWA Phase

When I first went natural my mom always lamented how much she hated that my hair was short. I remember at 20 years old, my mom sat me down and tried to lift my roots with a hot comb to give my hair a little bit more “length”. Of course, it didn’t work because the humid weather of South Carolina is not going to let me live but I remember taking that mentality back with me to school because like most young women I also wanted to have long back-length hair. I also thought about the day I would achieve big afro lengths of Coffy and Erykah Badu and I would try any and everything to help my hair grow faster. After I did my first big chop I was rushed into getting braids and wait for the length to come in because otherwise, people would think I was a “lesbian”. People thought I was a lesbian with long hair, but I appeased my family to wait for the more comfortable hair length. Once my hair was at an appropriate length I ran into a very unique problem— I didn’t know how to take care of it. 

I couldn’t do a twist out to save my life and I didn’t feel like any of the products I was using were actually doing anything for my hair. While I was “saved” from the embarrassment of short hair, I missed out on learning about my hair. What products to use, should I blow dry it or air dry it, and more importantly how to style it at every length. My hair wasn’t ridiculously long but it was cumbersome to take care of. I couldn’t understand why after 3-4 tutorials a day I couldn’t get my hair to twist and curl like everyone else’s. Now in Japan, I’ve chopped my hair multiple times and I’m more comfortable at a shorter length than a longer length. I don’t see many 4c hair girlies in Japan or America rocking the TWA phase but I think it’s the best stage in the natural hair game, and with a little bit of bravery you’ll find yourself with unmatched short hair confidence.  

Short Tapered 4c hair
One month after my first hair cut in Japan

Short Hair Confidence with 4c Hair  

Create a MoodBoard for Inspiration 

I always talk about how jealous I am of young people today because they’re growing up with so much access to media that I didn’t have in my youth. There weren’t a lot of representations for Black women in the media in the early 2000s, especially for dark skin women rocking 4c hair. Sites like Pinterest and Melanterest make it so easy to find a large number of pictures of people from around the world going through a similar journey. Seeing how different people style their hair for all occasions will certainly spark something within you. If you’re feeling brave upload your own photos and be an inspiration for others and join in the conversation of 4c hair care.

Get a Good Self-Care Routine  

I didn’t realize how much I hid behind my hair until I did my first big chop. After cutting my hair I felt naked, but it made me take a long look at myself in the mirror and accept my looks for what they are. There was no hiding my acne scars or creating pigtails to distract from my belly fat. I was seeing all of myself and so was everyone else. Having a good self-care routine is paramount in helping you build confidence in yourself. Eating fruits and vegetables and daily exercise isn’t about losing weight, it’s about taking care of yourself inside and out. When you feel good about yourself on the inside it’ll start to reflect on the outside as well.  

Up Your Style Game

I love her so much

Big chopping gave me a really edgy look. It was unintentional but I took it as an opportunity to experiment with makeup and clothing a bit more. Wear clothes you never thought you’d wear or try out makeup for more than a special occasion. Cutting your hair will really help you learn how to wear your clothes, and not let your clothes wear you.

Experiment with different short hairstyles 

Black Woman with Short Slick Back Hair
My attempt at finger waves

Despite what the name implies there are so many different ways you can style short hair. Adding a bit of color is the obvious way to spice up your TWA, but twists and curls can add a bit of flavor. When my hair was shorter I loved doing a slick back finger wave style for a throwback style. Many people love to add accessories like clips, bows, or flowers. Whatever your flavor is give it a try you might be able to find a signature look.

Stop Chasing Curl Patterns

Twitter post on 4c hair discrimination
4c hair is classless and ratchet apparently

Although I don’t have access to much in Japan, the restrictions have helped me see the beauty in my hair. I didn’t want to spend hours perfecting a twist out or spending twice as much to ship curling cream to Tochigi. It made me realize that 4c hair is supposed to be kinky, you’re not supposed to run a comb through it or have hang time in the TWA phase. Having kinky hair isn’t classless or ratchet it’s just simply the way our hair grows. As long as your hair is healthy everything else is irrelevant.

Surround Yourself With People Who Support You 

4c hair girlies face texturism both inside and outside the Black communities. Although the natural hair movement was created as a way for all naturals to embrace their hair, 4c hair girlies are often left out of the conversation because it’s the furthest texture away from white beauty. Building confidence starts from within and is impacted by the people you surround yourself with. Even in 2021 people are uncomfortable with 4c hair—between colorist tweets from Black Twitter and racist laws it’s hard to feel comfortable with your mini fro. But there are people out there who will accept you and help you along your journey both online and in real life.

I know people are scared of the TWA afro phase—maybe your head is too big or you still have scars from high school but I can assure you it’s not as bad as others make it seem to be. Once you finally do it, you’ll see it’s one of the best decisions of your life.

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