Goodbye Luscious Locks

That mysterious ponytail is what I walked out of the salon with last April, when I cut and donated 11 inches of my hair. After years of having long hair, which I loved, I was  beginning to feel like my hair owned me. My golden locks would get in my food, whip me in the face while biking, and demanded hours to wash, dry, and maintain. So last spring, I decided it was time for a change. You could call it a bit of spring cleaning.

After trying various awful iPhone apps that would take a picture of your face and place your hair of choice on your head (which looked more creepy than useful), I looked to celebrities with similar facial shapes for inspiration. Convincing myself I’d look as chic as Khloe Kardashian does with her bob, I went for the plunge. Let’s be real, no matter how much you dislike the Kardashians, who doesn’t wanna look like one?! I also decided to donate my hair to women losing theirs from cancer treatment. That way, even if I disliked the cut, my hair wouldn't go to a complete waste.

When the hairdresser spun me around in the chair to get a first look at my new hairstyle, I was mortified. I wanted to cry and go back in time an hour to the security of my beautiful, long locks. I felt so naked without my large blanket of hair to cover and protect me. It was only then did I realize how much I relied on my hair as a safety net. More than that, it symbolized my femininity in a way I had never understood. Suddenly without my hair, I felt ugly. The whole way I looked at myself changed. An internal dialogue that is subconsciously spread thoroughly in TV shows, Instagram, and tabloids ran through my head. The standard “beautiful” actress almost always is depicted with long, luscious curls that gently cascade and frame her face. Stereotypically, women are identified with having longer hair, and with mine now as short as it had been when I was a 7 year old, I felt childish and exposed. I always felt that my hair had been a constant in my looking “girly” and “pretty,” the typical words describing femininity.

The way I wore clothes and styled myself all had a different feel to it. My hair could no longer conceal areas of myself that I disliked. At first this newfound exposure was quite uncomfortable for me. I was constantly feeling a cold draft around my neck (I don’t know how guys do it), and could no longer use my hair as an accessory of sorts. It took months after my drastic haircut to learn that my hair does not define me, or my femininity. With my new blunt locks, I feel more confident and punchy. My new look offered an unapologetic existence, which seeked no confirmation from others. In short, I felt more like myself (ha, get it… in short…). I like to think that I’m more unique because of my shorter hair, but maybe that’s just me being a narcissist. If you haven’t noticed, I really enjoy writing about myself.

The greatest realization I had was the feeling I had after having donating my hair. I began to understand only a minute, infinitesimal part of the pain that women losing their hair due to cancer treatments- without a choice- must be experiencing. I know my hair will grow back, but for those women who may have to go for months without their hair or wait for it to slowly grow back, I feel immense sympathy. I’m not trying to convince you to donate your hair, just to keep the idea in the back of your head. It was humbling (let’s make this about me again) to think that I could so positively impact someone's self image and confidence with something so disposable to me that I took for granted.

Now the greatest question stands: do I keep my hair short or grow it out?