Issa Rae On Why Cutting Off Her Hair Was The ‘Most Freeing’ Thing Ever

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Issa Rae said she cut her hair because she just wanted a new look.

When a woman cuts all of her hair off, many people assume she’s going through some transformative life event. Or they may think she’s “edgy” and wants to reject society’s beauty standards. Neither of these was the case for Issa Rae. She just wanted a new look.

The “Insecure” creator opened up about her experience with shaving her hair off in an essay for Sweet, a Snapchat Discover only publication. Rae, who talked about going bald in her 2015 book The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, said that she posted on her Facebook that she was thinking about cutting off her hair. She said the response she got from people were comments that ranged from words of encouragement to people telling her she would be “ugly.” 

Around that time, the show-runner was workshopping her “Awkward Black Girl” web series. She thought cutting her hair for the trailer would be good to signify that the main character was going through something in an effort to make her big chop excusable.

Despite friends ― and strangers ― making her nervous about the decision, she sat in the barber’s chair and let him go to work.

“With every strand of hair that fell on the floor, I felt nervous, but liberated at the same time,” she wrote in the essay. “I think everything changed in those moments. I thought about the absurdity of hair. It had been the source of so much insecurity growing up. To not have to deal with that was a huge thing, and it was a definite confidence-booster. I felt like I was viewed differently after I cut my hair. People look at you like you’re more confident when you have a bald head ― like you have the audacity to be able to walk around like that.”

Recently, Rae began letting her hair grow out. But she said cutting her hair gave her the confidence to experiment with different hairstyles and do what works for her rather than blend in with the crowd.

“The coolest people I remember were the people who didn’t care what anybody else thought,” she wrote. “I just didn’t feel brave enough then. Now, I would just tell myself: ‘Rock who you are because that’s special.’”

Read Issa Rae’s full essay on Sweet.