Texture Talk: How Quarantine Pushed Model Truth John to Shave Off All Her Curls
Welcome to Texture Talk, a weekly column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style.
Life under lockdown has inspired many people—celebs included—to change up their looks all on their own. Truth John, a Toronto-based model, is one of those social distancing transformations.
Truth has been spending her quarantine life on the island of Saint Kitts for the past several months, and at the beginning of April, she said goodbye to her curls in one fell swoop by shaving her head. The decision came after three steady years of chemically straightening her strands in order to ease the management of her natural texture for untrained hairstylists on modelling jobs. Here, Truth opens up about her big chop.
On her pre-quarantine hair routine:
“I was relaxing and texturizing my hair because it’s easier for hairstylists to deal with. Once you’re in the industry, you realize that not a lot of people know how to deal with your hair, so it’s easier if your curls are toned down. Most of the hairstylists are white and most are not trained in dealing with afro hair. I felt kind of like I didn’t really have a choice. And if I wanted to grow my hair back natural, it wasn’t going to be conducive to working in that industry. I always prepared my hair before I would get to set because I understood how it is, and I understood that not everyone is going to know what do to with my curls. So to make it easier for everybody, I always set my hair before: I would do these, like, very ambiguous curls — exactly what clients are usually looking for.”
On the state of her hair:
“My hair was in such bad shape. My edges were thinning and breaking. I was holding onto hope that they would grow back and would get in better condition, but it wasn’t happening. It was last August when I really started getting frustrated. I even reached out to my agency and was like, ‘My hair is really bad. How do we think I would do if I just shaved my head?’ They were like, ‘Honestly, you’re booking way too much right now to change your look.’ I understood and I didn’t want to book less work. My reaction was to just work really hard at maintaining the integrity of my hair, like doing treatments. I tried to focus on the best care that I could offer my hair.”
On experiencing hair discrimination behind the scenes:
“About a year and a half ago I went to set for a sportswear job. The producer, art director and hairstylist were having some sort of internal dialogue and I heard, ‘Can we put her hair up because usually when people work out, their hair is not down.’ The hairstylist responded with something along the lines of like, ‘No, that’s not going to look good. Her hair can’t move that way.’ Basically saying that Black hair can’t be worn up. Either the stylist felt like she didn’t want to do it or didn’t know how. It was the most ridiculous comment I’ve ever heard in my entire life.”
On her quarantine hair transformation:
“By the time I was in quarantine I lacked so much confidence. I just felt so self-conscious about my hair. Before, I felt like I had to put my hair in a bun every day so that you couldn’t tell how bad my hair was. Being forced to be with myself every day and seeing how terrible my hair was just made me snap one day. I was just like, ‘If I’m going to shave my head, now is the best time because at least I’m home by myself.’ It was either shave my head or continue to live with half of my hair falling out of my head. I slept on the idea for maybe a week because I didn’t want it to be a rushed decision. It was definitely an adrenaline rush when I finally decided that I was doing it, and it took me a couple of days to really embrace it. The plan was to shave my head for a fresh start: to grow back my natural hair. But I felt so empowered afterwards. I felt like I was embracing my natural beauty. I was looking in the mirror and was like, ‘I don’t even want to grow my hair back!’ Shaving my head started this journey of self-love and self-acceptance. Instead of being something for someone else, I was me for me.”
On her new hair routine:
“I now cut my hair pretty much once a week because I realize that I love it this way. It’s so easy to deal with. No maintenance at all. It saves me a lot of time, plus, it’s so hot down in Saint Kitts that I can’t even imagine trying to grow my hair back in this heat.”
On the conversation with her modelling agency about her new look:
“I was so scared and nervous to tell them that I cut my hair because the last time I approached the topic, I was told that it wasn’t the right move. But I emailed the head booker who I have good relationship and said, ‘I finally decided to do it, and I think it’s the right move for me.’ She asked me to send a photo and her reaction was basically, ‘I absolutely love it. You look beautiful. Don’t even worry.’ I love her to death. She’s almost like my mom.”
On her modelling future:
“I’ve done a bit of work since I shaved my head, but I’m not back in Toronto yet, so I don’t know how clients are really going to react. Online, people have been giving me a great response, which is so nice and makes me feel like when I do go back that clients will book me. I’m just holding onto hope. If they don’t, it is what it is.”
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