Short Hair Don’t Care

I was not particularly nervous to cut my hair until I showed my hairdresser Karen and my mom the photos for the haircut I wanted. They were both in shock.

 

“Oh, that’s different.”

“That’s a lot shorter than I expected.”

“I don’t know how your hair is going to work with this, but I’m excited to try this out.”

A mixed reaction if ever I heard one.

 

I had been thinking about cutting my hair for months, nearly a year, but was too skittish to do it. I went back and forth about the idea for even longer, wondering whether it would suit my face shape, how I would look with it versus how I wanted it to look, how it would make me feel.

(Me in December 2015 while I was abroad.)

I didn’t want to do it before I went abroad and have to find someone to trust with my hair in Italy. I didn’t want to do it when I got back because I had enough going on and wanted to feel comfortable before giving a presentation in front of professionals in my (hopeful) future career. It seemed expensive to get two haircuts within a month of each other, so I finally set a date. August 2016, my hair was jumping ship, or I guess, jumping scalp.

My hair has been a variety of lengths throughout my life. It was past my ribs in kindergarten, but chin length by second grade, and it’s fluctuated around my shoulder since then. I took the first leap towards short hair in the 10th grade. I had decided not to try out for my high school’s cheerleading squad, and thus no longer required a ponytail for holding up cheer bows anymore. After my last performance, I went to my hairdresser and cut off six inches. I’m embarrassed I wasn’t brave enough to go shorter and donate my hair, but that’s in the past.

(Left: Me in December of 2009, in my cheer sweatshirt. Right: Me in the hair salon with my new haircut)

By the time I came to Kenyon, my hair was growing out again, and my big plunge was to go back to bangs, a style of fringe I had been escaping since the fifth grade. It was the first moment of my hair in which I proved my mom incorrect (a rare feat if ever I saw one). I rocked bangs, and my hair became shorter and shorter with every passing semester.

(Left: Around October of 2012. My hair grows pretty quickly. Right: A week after my haircut, the day of high school graduation.)

I also played with dying different parts of my hair blue, mostly for fun but also because I liked it. It made me feel cool and badass in a way that I had never felt before, but it still felt like me. It was fun.

(Left: October 2014. Center: December 2014, after another haircut. Right: August 2015 in really bad picture quality.)

This most recent cut was the main event, however. Once you cut your hair, you can’t glue it back on. There was no turning back. Instead of being afraid and letting my two most trusted hair advisors’ doubt get to me, I fed off the nervous energy with glee. It was almost liberating to know that it was something completely new, the same sort of energy from when my best friend was massaging bright blue dye into my hair for the first time.

This August finally came and I eagerly awaited the day that all of my hair could be gone. It came, it went, and it has bid its adieu for a while, I think.

(Left: Me at Christmas 2015. Right: The day of my hair cut, August 2016.)

I will admit, the first several days, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. Some days, I still look at other girls’ long hair and associate with the way their hair looks. Then I have to remember that my hair is gone. It’s not a bad thing. It just is. I am not always very good at being adventurous or taking the brave leap, but this is one that I am so happy I did.

Before I cut my hair, I used to admire women for being brave enough to cut off their hair. I don’t think I had as much of an attachment to hiding behind my hair as some people have. It is something I played with constantly, but also something with which I was never that happy. My hair never did what I wanted and as much as I wanted to control what it did, I never exerted that much effort to tame it. Now, I feel like I can let it be free. It’s a way in which I have relinquished control of my appearance, and for the better. I feel free.

It is true that when I was younger, I envied the girls around me who had long, luscious locks that seemed to sit perfectly, with relatively no frizz. And then there was me. My hair was frizzy and unmanageable, some days slightly wavy, sometimes straight, but always with too much volume than is traditionally considered good. Now, I still look at other people’s long hair and envy how beautiful it looks, how nicely it sits. I miss curling my hair. I miss the look of a ponytail. But I am also pretty in love with my short hair.

I still connect with people with shoulder length hair, but this is a new stage of my hair, a new stage of my life. That might sound overdramatic, but we put so much emphasis on our appearance in our society. I am not exempt, and some days I care more than others. However, I love the way my short hair makes me feel.

If you have any inclination to try something new with your hair, I highly recommend giving it a shot. I’m not going to go as far as some and insist every person with long locks try short hair at some point. However, I do think it has made me aware of the way my face looks in a new way. I feel more confident, a feeling which is probably linked to this awareness. I am very grateful, and until the next haircut, we’ll see how fast it grows.

 

Image Credit: Jenna Wendler