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Why I Chopped My Hair Off (and then Grew it in Again)

When I was younger, my hair was the bane of my existence. Everyone around me was constantly jealous of my long, thick locks, but I simply saw it as a pain in the butt more than something that I was lucky to be blessed with. As someone who was on a soccer team, swim team, and dance team for most of elementary school, I was constantly sweating and having to take showers every other day - if not daily. As someone with a LOT of hair, showers became my enemy because I had to take a 40-minute shower just to keep my hair from being an oily, greasy mess for school every day. I just didn’t enjoy my hair. Having stick-straight long hair that refused to curl or do anything fun led to day after day of ponytails as my only go-to hairstyle for school. This quickly became a little too repetitive, and after two years of middle school, I decided to chop it all off. And, I really do mean all of it. I went from hair that fell below my chest to a pixie cut. Total transformation. I surprised all of my friends on the first day of school when I showed up missing 7 inches of hair on my head. 

The main question, though, was why I decided to do it. As I told a kid in my second-period class that day, I had not decided to cut my hair off because I was a lesbian or because I was transitioning. I simply wanted to cut it off because it felt like a weight to carry around every day, and I wanted to do something different. However, I kept it short throughout all of high school, partially because it had become a cool new trend, and partially because it meant I could dye my hair and it wasn’t too long or tough of a process. I did feel like I missed out on some parts of a traditional high school experience, though, because of my short hair. Weird, right? But hear me out.

I spent ten minutes every morning (and I mean probably less than ten) doing my hair, makeup (or lack of), and getting ready to go to school. Almost every other girl in my class was spending anywhere between half an hour to 45 minutes on curling, blow-drying, or straightening their hair, and I felt like I was not a part of that crowd. On more than one occasion, I thought about how my status at school would be different if I had kept my long hair. My high school was one where people’s popularity was judged by their looks and what they did for extracurriculars. So yes, while I was a three-season athlete in high school, I did not look like everybody else - much less the typical prom queen. I was alternative and indie, and my hair was a part of that. For 5 years, it was short, and pink, and then had blonde Guy Fieri-esque tips. It was a part of me being an independent woman - an individual who did not want to be a part of the norm - and I loved being different, until I didn’t. 

On March 5th, I got my last haircut for my pixie cut, and then I moved home due to the Coronavirus pandemic a week later. By this point, I had already been thinking about growing my hair out, and had asked literally every single one of my friends if they thought it was a good idea or not. Long story short, I did not go to the hair salon until almost August, and ultimately decided to start the (very long) process of growing my hair out. I was ready to look more like the women around me on campus, and I felt like it would help me feel more self-confident amongst my peers. I had prepared for it to last almost a year until I had even shoulder-length hair, and for the inevitable mullets in between day 0 and my goal. On the other hand, I was not ready to be dealing with super oily, crazy hair that hated styling. But, I decided to tackle that head-on as well. If you’re in the same boat as me, and looking to possibly plan to grow your hair out or deal with oily hair, these were the tips and tricks I used. 

  • First, I chose to grow my hair out when I knew I would not be seen by a ton of people. I did not want to have a mullet 24/7 when I was hanging out with my friends or taking cute photos together, and in summer 2020, not seeing people was the norm.
  • Second, I reached out to my hairstylist before I went on this journey and asked her what she thought I should do to style my hair while undergoing the insane transformation from pixie cut to Atomic Blonde-style shoulder-length bob. She recommended headbands, so I bought as many as possible (too many, to be honest) and got prepared for the terrible in-between stages to come.
  • Third, I got new shampoo and conditioner (hold the applause, please) that are meant to help with oily buildup. Yes, I finally started caring about what shampoo I was using for my hair and stopped using the same 18-in-1 soap that I had been using for ages.
  • Finally, I just tried to work with it and style my hair however it was feeling that week. As my hair grew, it was easier to just work with it rather than hope for something perfect. 

Yes, I had a mullet twice. But, I’m finally at the point now where I’m happy that I decided to grow it out. I’m not going to lie - I loved having short hair and I sort of miss it right now. But growing it out has allowed me to try to work with styling it which I did not want to do throughout high school. I was so excited to curl it on the first day of classes this year, which has never happened before. In summation, if you’re debating cutting all of your hair off, I would recommend you do it, immediately. If you’re debating growing your pixie cut out, do it. It will take you around a year to get to the point where it’s a great haircut, and you will love it from there on out! Will I cut all of my hair off again? That is more than likely, and I will be able to do it knowing that my image, and my femininity, are based on more than what is on top of my head.


Edited by Carolyn D’Auria

Sam Lacey is a current third-year student at the University of Vermont majoring in Public Communications with a concentration in Strategic Writing. Sam loves all things music and film-related, and is also the manager of UVM's alternative radio station, WRUV. She's super excited to write for HerCampus (which she's been dreaming of since she was 16).
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