I've had an array of hairstyles over the years. There was this teeny-weeny afro.

mary anderson photo
photo: Alexandra Rojas

Then there was the Blair Waldorf-meets-grad-student look. 

mary anderson photo
photo: Alexandra Rojas

At one point, I was all about my Scary Spice-inspired braided buns.

mary anderson photo
photo: Mary Anderson

And then I was into the millennial-meets-1950s style.

mary anderson photo
photo: Mary Anderson

But as much as I loved those looks, the style I felt most confident in was this "Big Chop" look from college. Unfortunately, I was afraid to return to it for a pretty embarrassing reason. 

mary anderson photo
photo: Mary Anderson

While in college, I liked a guy who ended up not feeling the same way (which is totally OK). When I told my friend about it she replied, "Maybe it's because of your hair." 

I was taken aback at what she said, although it sadly wasn't surprising. As a woman (and especially as a Black woman), I am well-aware of the stigmas those with short (and kinky) hair face and I knew then I didn't fit into society's traditional views of beauty.

But rather than ignore what my friend said, I took it to heart and chose hairstyles that fit into conventional standards of beauty.

mary anderson photo
photo: Photo by Mary Anderson

I've worn wigs, weaves, braids, and everything in between over the years, and I wish I could confidently say all of my hair decisions were simply because I liked them, but they weren't. Sometimes (OK, a lot of the time), I felt like in order to be "beautiful," my hair had to fit a certain mold. And unfortunately, that mold usually wasn't something I liked, but what I felt others would like me to wear. 

But now, I feel like it's time to return to a style I've always remembered fondly. 

mary anderson hair
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

With a LOT of help (and emotional support) from DevaCurl stylist Dominique LyVar and Revelist's two video producers (shout-out to Jess and Brittany!), I went under the razor.

I wish I could say that I was calm, cool, and collected, but my hands were shaking and clammy the whole time. I was honestly having a mini-panic attack ON CAMERA. 

photo: Brittany Fowler / Jessica Torres/ Revelist

"Are you OK?" Jess repeatedly asked me while we were filming. 

mary anderson photo
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

I think she could see the fear on my face as very large chunks of my hair fell to the floor. It was a waaay bigger pile of hair than I thought it would be. I was already disappointed that I felt so anxious and wasn't feeling as confident as I did when I had the same hairstyle in college.  

All I could think was, "What if I don't look that good?"

mary anderson
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

But after 10 minutes or so, I started loosening up and realizing it was time to let go. 

mary anderson photo
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

When I saw the final result, I was more than pleased. I felt like the fierce woman I always dreamt of being. 

mary anderson photo
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

When I looked at myself in the mirror, all my fears (almost) instantly went away. It was a relief. I could see my ears! My cheeks! My forehead! 

I was suddenly very aware of my face, and the fact that I couldn't use my hair, real or not, as a shield or a way to feel more "beautiful." 

But most importantly, I was happy it was a new look that was 100% my decision and one that I felt beautiful in. 

mary anderson photo
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

I didn't have to wonder if I was truly happy, or if the look was really me. Instead, I knew that I had chosen this hairstyle because *I* fully wanted it. (I will also admit that I'm blessed to work in an environment where different hairstyles are accepted — not everyone has that advantage.) 

In the future, who knows? I may decide to switch to long waterfall hair like Nicki Minaj one day and then try out a closely-cropped Lupita Nyong'o look the next. But if I do, it'll be because I want to, not because I feel pressured to look attractive in a way society deems acceptable. 

Special thanks to Devacurl and Dominique LyVar! 

mary anderson photo
photo: Brittany Fowler / Revelist

To see more of Dominique LyVar's wonderful work, visit his Instagram page at @Dominiquelyvar_devacurl. You can also check out DevaCurl's Facebook page and Instagram page at @Devacurl for even more hair inspiration.

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