Last month, Gabrielle Union, who is most often associated with sporting luscious, long hair, debuted her dramatic big chop on Instagram. The "L.A.'s Finest" actress made sure to note that the cut was one that she made by choice. It wasn't the result of severely damaged hair and it most certainly was not the manifestation of a personal crisis. In fact, it turns out that the cut was brought on by the opposite.
"My joy," Union tells EBONY when asked what brought on the change. "I wish more people associated cutting your hair with joy rather than a crisis."
The decision came at the heels of filming The Perfect Find in New York. While searching for a new look, she realized that her hair length was getting in the way of all of the styles she presented to her longtime friend, hairstylist, and business partner, Larry Sims.
"He was like, 'Your hair is too long for that,' and I was like, 'Cut it,'"Union recalls.
As Black girls, many of us are taught from an early age to aspire to length. When our hair is long, we're praised for it. When our hair is short, there are sometimes feelings of shame and unworthiness. Much of this is rooted in Eurocentric beauty ideals—something the actress admits that she is working to unlearn.
"I feel so good. I feel so fly. I don't have that same attachment to length that I had in the past," Union admits. "I'm learning to uncenter white supremacy and white beauty ideals. I'm unlearning a lot of harmful ideals that we are inundated with from birth as Black women. I'm finding freedom and I wanted to highlight that."
This month, Union and Sims celebrate the one-year anniversary of their natural hair care brand, Flawless.