9 Things to Think About When Cutting Your Hair

I cut my hair short about a month ago. It’s been glorious. I can’t stop running my fingers through it. I bought more styling products in a week than I have in my whole life. I look hella gay.

I’d often considered cutting my hair short. When I got a sidecut a few years back, I’d planned to cut it as a means of growing out the shaved patch once I got tired of it. It took me way longer to build up the courage to trim it to my ears than it did to shave a chunk of it off.

Women are generally expected to default to long hair. For assigned-female-at-birth (AFAB) folks that aren’t women or are questioning their gender (like me), cutting it short can be a step towards gender affirmation, a way to feel more at home in yourself. It can also help with queer visibility (which I love since I’m in a straight-passing relationship).

Not that your haircut needs to carry that much weight. It could be that you’re just craving a change. Maybe you’ve been inspired by a celebrity’s pixie cut. Maybe you’ve just grown tired of hair sticking to the back of your neck this summer.

Whatever the case may be, here are some guidelines to follow or ignore as you toy with the idea of chopping it off.

1. Wait until you’re ready

Don’t let anyone push you into it. I had people tell me to keep it and to lose it. Ultimately, I had to make the choice for me. You’re the one it’s going to impact the most. There’s no good reason to do it for anyone else (unless you’re, say, shaving your head to raise money for cancer research).

2. Don’t wait until you’re ready

I was relieved when I took it all off. And to be honest, it really suits me. I could’ve been feeling like this way sooner, but I waffled for over a year.

Be mindful if the change is motivated by a big upheaval in your life. But hey, it’ll grow back. And there’s something to be said for the thrill of spontaneity. Considering the mild consequences, this could be a chance to leap before you look and enjoy the plunge.

3. Cut it as short as you dare

Commit to a cut you like. Do your research, come with reference photos. Choose what you think looks good, even if you’re nervous about the length. It’ll likely feel better to get a shorter style that you’ve fallen in love with than a longer one that falls “short” of what you imagined.

Or just decide you’re done with hair altogether and shave it to the roots. Bald is beautiful.

4. Take it slow

If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. It might be a little easier on your nerves if you trim it down bit by bit, especially if you have very long hair. And while it might be a little pricier to get it cut gradually, that peace of mind could be worth it. Plus, you get to discover what your hair looks like in a variety of lengths and styles along the way.

I started my short hair journey with a sidecut. Maybe long on one side, short on the other is what you’re looking for.

5. Dye it

I can speak from experience--dyeing long hair sucks. It’s time-consuming and more expensive. If you’re bleaching it, the damage keeps accumulating. Bleaching and dyeing short hair is less money, less work, and less time. If you’ve been resistant to bleach your longer hair due to concerns for its health or dye it at all due to time/maintenance, this is the workaround !

6. Style it

Just because you don’t have long hair doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of fun ways to play with it. Look at short hair tutorials for inspiration. Check that their hair is similar in texture and coarseness to yours. Note the products they use. Steal their look, then make it your own. Experiment!

7. Or don’t

Short hair can be low or high maintenance, just like long hair. The bonus with short hair is that regardless of what’s happening up there, it’s out of your way. You don’t have to give it a second thought, or even a first.

8. It can help you define yourself

Hair can be powerful. The right hairstyle can make you feel more like yourself, present yourself to others in a way that’s true to you. I’m currently exploring my gender and trying out the label “nonbinary.” Cutting my hair short was a way to embrace my feelings and feel more confident in that identity. Short hair is by no means necessary to identify as queer or gender non-conforming, but it can be very validating. Even if it turns out not to be your thing, you’ve done something brave just by trying it out.

9. It doesn’t define you

It can just be hair.

Worst case scenario, you don’t like how it looks and you never cut your hair short again. At least you know. And sure, your style can be an extension of yourself, but it’s not you. You’re so many things outside of how you look. Why not give it a try?

Photos 1, 2, 3 from The Gender Spectrum Collection

Photo 4 by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash