For the past few years, I’d been growing my hair long. The last time I cut off more than three inches at a time, I was a sophomore in high school, and I’ve only gotten it trimmed about twice a year since then. Now, as a sophomore in college, and having nearly achieved what I describe as “medieval princess length,” I decided to make the drastic decision to cut it all off.
Hair changes can be incredibly refreshing. I’d been wanting to change my hair for a while, but I didn’t want the hassle of bangs, I didn’t want to dye it (been there, done that, over it), and I was too afraid to cut it shorter. My long hair felt like a distinguishing feature, and the idea of cutting it off felt like a waste of all that time, effort, and conditioner. So I kept it as it was, and compensated by playing with DIY hair masks and honing my braiding skills. But it was becoming excessive: it got caught in my coat and scarves and sometimes even my car door, it was always tangled by the end of the day, and I was using ridiculous amounts of conditioner to keep it healthy.
The decision to cut it wasn’t absolutely spur-of-the-moment; I had brought up the idea to some friends, but wasn’t necessarily planning to go through with it so soon. Then, last week, I decided there was no sense in waiting, and I went for it. I knew that I wanted to donate it since it was so long, and in pretty good shape. I looked at the requirements for different organizations and picked Children With Hair Loss, a group that gives kids with cancer as well as conditions such as alopecia and trichotillomania a free wig every year until their 21st birthday. They require hair to be at least 8 inches long, and they prefer no dyes or chemical treatment, but as long as the hair is in good enough condition, they can accept it.
I expected the trim to be a little more climactic. I essentially picked a salon based on seeing it from a hotel window while on a weekend venture with my mom, and made an appointment right then and there. I arrived, told the stylist what I wanted, and within minutes over a foot of my hair was sitting in a plastic bag, ready to be sent away.
Part of me was really worried that I would be sad when my hair was gone, or that I would hate it and it wouldn’t look good. I’ve donated my hair twice before—once in fourth grade, and once in sixth grade. Both of those times, it wasn’t the greatest look. I had a round face back then, and my hair was in a sort of in-between phase of no longer being straight like when I was little, but not quite being as wavy/curly as it is now. It was still kind of cute the first time, but I’d been regretting the second time for ages, and swore I would never look good with short hair.
More recently, I had been hiding behind my long hair, letting it be a source of self-confidence while ignoring the fact that I wasn’t confident in myself as a person. But I’ve had a lot of personal growth over the past several months, and I see this as one more step in owning up to who I am while helping others (though it helps that I’m no longer a round-faced twelve-year-old). It’s the physical representation of letting go of who I was before, along with all the messes that went with it, and moving on the better and brighter things.
The most fun part? Now that my hair is short, it’s no longer weighed down, so the natural texture comes through a lot more. After a few washes, it’s gone from waves to soft curls. It’s also much less effort in the morning when I only have two basic hairstyle options—loose, or clipped to the side—and showers? Much faster.
To anyone who wants a change and has hair that’s long and healthy enough to donate, I highly recommend it. It’s super simple to do, and makes a real difference in people’s lives. Children With Hair Loss and Wig For Kids are two good options, but there are lots of organizations out there, so do your research and find the one that’s right for you. By giving your hair to boost someone else’s self-confidence, you just might rediscover your own.
Personally, I’m loving the short hair experience! Maybe I’ll grow it out again, or maybe not, but in any case, and I have no regrets.