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Cut and Grow: A Hair-Personal Evolution

Edited by: Carol Eugene Park

In all of its thick, lengthy, frizzy, and tangled glory, my head-hair has served me well in many frigid winter months, as a cozy (warmth-generating) companion. Even so, the style and colour provoked, in me, a frequent sense of dissatisfying ordinariness. For much of my young adult life, I hovered betwixt-and-between change; I was, and still am, quite hesitant to step through various life-thresholds and embrace these changes. Both routine and familiarity have always offered me great comfort. However, my hair—as you, the reader, will soon discover—stands as an exception to the rule: a unique circumstance that pushed me to commence an identity odyssey.

By the end of grade twelve, indifference toward my straight and spiritless light brunette hair grew. Even now, looking back at, say, prom pictures, I still puzzle over why I accepted the monotony for so long. Nonetheless, it was the idea of university that set off a flash of excitement, for the novelty, diversity, cultivation, and reflection. Here, I hoped I would come to forge a self-gratifying and liberating sense of selfhood, one brimming with colour and light; the act of highlighting my hair, with red and caramel streaks, personified these sentiments. I transitioned to coloured-hair treatment shampoos and tested an assortment of brands (i.e. Pantene, Herbal Essences) before, at last, settling on Schwarzkopf.

Style posed another daunting yet thrilling threshold. In my second year of university, I struggled with my classes, confused my true interests/passions, and feared a very uncertain future for a Humanities student. As a result, I let out all the frustration on my hair. Alone, and without truly taking the time to second guess myself, I seized a pair of scissors and cut bangs. They were, of course, uneven and sloppy; however, in that moment, I had control once again. My eyes mainly hid behind the bangs, as, in truth, the former would reveal an overall sense of insecurity and weakness.

I soon after visited a professional hairdresser to tidy up the physical repercussion of my outburst. The bangs, I realized, did not suit me—they were not me. In other words, while the bangs began to grow out, I, simultaneously, allowed myself to recharge and start anew (a cyclical journey).

Cue the fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree. Graduate school was just over the horizon. The applications consumed much of my time, effort, and focus. Everything had become routinized and colourless once again. I needed a reminder—to feed the fading flicker—of my passions, for creative expression and innovation. I self-dyed (it may have been a boxed-dye by Garnier) the tips of my hair a bold auburn hue. I needed a reminder of a strength, determination, and boldness.

I knew this change in colour was only temporary. The day before graduation photos, I decided to cut off the tips I had dyed auburn (as the colour did not fade in time). Family, friends, and acquaintances complemented the change—could it be that I had finally discovered the hairstyle for me?

The most momentous, and recent, act in my odyssey is marked by the following: I visited a hair salon after exam season and cut my hair to chin-length. It was light and easy. This made sound cliché, but I felt free. I had cut off any such negativities of the past. The short hair seemed, and still does seem, compatible to my character.

Still, the wonderful thing about hair is that it will grow back, and if I need to, I can try again… and again.

Images are credited to the writer.

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