How to Lose Your Hair Without Losing Your Head: A Guide for Chopping it All Off

Have you touched the prickly head of a boy with short hair and thought, I could pull this off so much better than you? Or maybe, This big mass of dead cells that I’ve been dragging along for four years sure is making my head hot... But some inner voicepresumably in the form of Marcia Bradytells you that your long hair is part of who you are. It can be, but changing that makes for some fun times. Below is a guide to the realities that come with making the switch to short hair.

The Good

1. Aerodynamics and other physicalities

Aside from the oddly satisfying feeling of first touching your new, spiky little half inch of hair, short hair brings its own set of surprises that will make the transition fun for you and anyone whom you let touch your glorious head. Two of my favorite experiences of going from mermaid hair to a pixie cut was the crunch of putting my head on a pillow and not accidentally inhaling my hair when I laughed too hard. Ponytails are also no longer necessary for playing sports, and hypothetically, with less friction you’ll have a quicker sprint, the final step in becoming the star athlete you’ve always dreamed of being. It’s also good to remember that your head’s probably not as weirdly shaped as you think once the hair is cut off; now that it’s exposed, you can do cool things like make people rub it for good luck.

2. People will compare you to every celebrity with short hair

Your secret suspicion that you look like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway and Beyoncé will finally be confirmed by outsiders.

3. Avoiding people becomes easier

Significant identity changes are cool, but one of the greatest things about cutting off your hair is your new talent for avoiding people you don’t want to see. Your face is still the same, and unless you’ve gotten a new wardrobe, most people will be able to recognize you after about seven seconds; but that’s five seconds longer than you had before. This new window of escape time will let you quickly turn down a dark alley, away from your old AP biology teacher, or more subtly to just turn around, leaving your anonymous, hairless head to protect you from unwanted small talk.

The Bad

1. Unsolicited opinions

You may have discovered that as a woman, your appearance is often a subject for discussion and debate. A serious topic affecting many, most of which aren’t you. The announcement that you will be cutting off your hair may introduce you to subjects you didn’t even know about it, like the shape of your face (apparently a more complex issue than just “shaped like a face”) from others who feel that the drastic change is an invitation to give their opinion on how they think you will look. On the plus side, it may clear up some relationships for you; you might learn the only person who can accurately describe your face shape is your mom, and you might be able to reaffirm your decision to end things with the ex-boyfriend who stops by to tell you it looks way better now that it’s grown out a little bit. Both a lesson in having thick skin and realizing how trivial beauty standards are, cutting it off can be a great way to change your perspective.

2. “Aren’t you worried you’ll look like a lesbian?”

Even while LGBTQ rights are picking up speed and nobody wants to be seen as the last lingering homophobe, short hair on women brings out an interesting stereotype that still persists. Well-intentioned friends and relatives—all on board for marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and feminism—may share with you a concern that the new hair might make you seem a little, well, gay. Usually delivered in the tone of "I’m just being honest with you" and layered with outdated insinuations about the inherent nature of appearance to one’s femininity, the importance of male attention, sexuality and legitimate feelings of care from the person asking, this question can easily turn into a no-win situation.  Here are some possible answers that won’t make you feel like you’re selling out or exploding on a rant:

  • “Would it bother you if I were a lesbian?”

  • “I already do look like a lesbian, Mom.” (stage direction: identical, lesbian twin sister enters from stage right)

  • “No.”

This aspect of short hair can be the most frustrating, but it will also make you more aware of how most of us still hold onto beliefs that aren’t consistent with what we promote to the outside world and hopefully let you be more conscious of when you’re doing it yourself.

The hair makes the girl, or the girl makes the hair, or the girl cuts her hair off and then makes other things, like a pizza or a cool collage made of macaroni and feathers. Pick from one of the above and go with it. Hair is fun and completely belongs to you; going from long locks to a crew cut can be an exciting way to experiment with who you are.