I cut my hair for many reasons. It felt like it was time to cut off this weight that I’ve attached myself to for years. The weight of trauma, death, hurt, abuse, ex-lovers, old relationships, my hair had all of that lingering inside of it. In order for me to heal and become lighter, my hair had to go, but not just my hair but the place these experiences lived.
I’ve been spiritually connected to my hair, so cutting it became a ritual for this new journey. This ritual needed to be documented as a testament to my strength and my openness to the world. This ritual meant that I was cutting off all things that no longer served me. As I cut each dread I named the things I wanted to get rid of like the guilt I have for not being there with my mother while she was in hospice and the ex-lovers who fingertips could be retraced in my hair. I want to be free, and cutting my hair was the beginning of this freedom. My hair served so many purposes, it was a hiding place, a testament to wisdom and life, but also, a diary full of memories, stories, my s*** and others peoples s***. I needed a break, I needed to be free. – SHAN
East Baltimore native Shan Wallace is an award-winning photographer and artist. Her work is featured on The Washington Post, BET, Essence, and more. Recently, she decided to make a life-changing decision — to cut her dreads she’s had for NINE YEARS. The drastic big chop was not your typical cut your hair and throw it in the garbage. There was a ritual in place which was photographed to capture the meaningful event. On August 15, Shan publicly shared on Instagram (@_yoshann) a piece of her story through those pictures. The Cut Life reached out to her to dig deeper into her hair story. Jessica, one of our interns conducted a Q&A interview with Shan to unleash the captivating meaning behind why she cut her hair.
1. What was the final factor in your decision to cut your hair? What made you say “today is the day”?
I went back and forth about cutting my hair. I was so attached to this identity my hair created, and also, holding on for dear life those 9 years in my hair. Many people I miss and love who are no longer present here lived in my hair. So much of my life is in my hair. So much of my identity was my hair. I was really unsure due to the fact I’ve never had short hair or hair above my shoulders. But also, I’m a Taurus, we don’t change much. So this was a major shift for me mentally, and emotionally. At the time I was in LA, and I woke up one day and said today is the day. I knew my decision of cutting my hair had to be a little impulsive. The healing journey is a lifetime journey, I want to exist on this journey lightly.
2. Do you have a title for this ritual? If so, what is the name of it?
This ritual is called Mutual Benefits with Mother Earth. This title fits the journey I want to embark on, and that is, making sure I have a healthy relationship with Mother Earth which means I need to have a healthy relationship with myself but also, making sure the relationship I have with the Earth benefits us both. A person’s relationship with the earth is very important to me.
3. Now that you are free of the old dreads, will you regrow new ones or keep the short look?
I plan on keeping the short cut for a while, different colors in my head. Maybe some wigs.
4. Did you take the photos yourself laying each dread down? If yes, who did you decide to share this moment with?
My friend Traeauna photographed me, we both had directions of what we wanted the images to look like. So she was there with me during this entire process. She and I would talk about me cutting my hair, and she would often share her own experience with me about when she cut her hair. I, then, shared the moment with Instagram about a few days after I cut it. I wanted to make sure this moment was about me and less about sharing it with the online community. Often many people miss out on important moments because n***** do it for the Gram so much.
5. Beginning your new journey, what is in store for Shan Wallace?
There’s so much in store for Shan. My androgynous look is going to evolve and change a little. I just wanna be free, and move freely, and think freely, and just be free. No more weight, no more holding onto other people’s shit, no more attachment to things and people that just don’t serve me. No more hiding. Instead, I’ll be taking on the world full force and openly.
6. What is some advice you would give to individuals who want to cut their hair, however, are afraid?
Honestly, you won’t know how it feels to cut your hair unless you do it! I love my hair cut so much.