I think we all have a personal catharsis: for some of us, it's some good screaming into a pillow, throwing something across the room, or (for you crazy people) running half marathons. I didn't always know this, but mine is a chop--of the hair that is. My most recent haircut inspired me to some reflection, and as a writer's imagination tends to do, mine starting looking for some deeper meaning.
I am not new to short hair. The longest I think my hair has ever been was in the 7th or 8th grade, when my ends reached past my shoulders but not quite to my collarbones (but I could still get that super cool, high side ponytail we were all doing at the moment for some reason). I went through most of high school with a short bob that reached only to my chin, give or take a little between trims. It would be a while before I even thought myself capable of wearing a pixie cut proudly.
I distinctly remember one haircut that turned out much shorter than I had imagined. I went to a pep rally trying not to cry about it, because I knew that was silly and it'd grown back, and ended up in the bathroom, crying about it. It was dramatic enough of the cut that people noticed, and I convinced myself they were only complimenting me because they felt like they had to. After a day or two, I found peace with what seemed like an extra-short style at the time, but it was a while before I asked for that many inches off again.
I have heat damage from my flat iron to thank for my hair metamorphosis. After completely frying one side of my hair after years of gradual heat damage, I opted for an asymmetrical cut the summer before I started college. All of the singed ends on the left side were gone, but the bangs and length on my left side remained. There's no reason I couldn't have gotten the pixie cut right then, and I know I wasn't particularly trying to change my image to something edgier before I started a new chapter of my life (actually, I thought meeting new people who didn't know my hair hadn't always been this way would make the cut less noticeable). I actually know exactly why I didn't get a pixie right then: it was because I was afraid that I wouldn't look feminine, and therefore that boys wouldn't like it.
I know. It makes me want to scream, build a time machine, go back in time, and envelop my younger self in a comforting hug to say, "what's the opinion of one fish when you are the entire ocean?" It took time to learn that what I look like does not define me; furthermore, someone's opinion of me doesn't either. What matters is what I like and what I think of myself and the actions I take. After I got that was when I started cutting my hair shorter and shorter at each subsequent visit to the salon.My hair has done a lot since then. I was finally brave enough to, in my own words, "go full Emma Watson."
Please enjoy these iterations of my face as you would a movie montage to an upbeat All-American Rejects song.
Less than a week ago, I got my first haircut in almost a full year. There was no particular reason I started growing my hair out other than I'm now known to switch up my hairstyle more often than not. To be completely honest, I never thought I'd make it through the mullet stage, which is usually when I book myself an appointment for a cut ASAP. But with the help of bandanas, bobby pins, and lots of backwards baseball hats, somehow my hair got as long as it's been since I was about 14. If Emma Watson could grow her hair back out, so could I, I thought.
The day before I was finally getting the new chop, I celebrated my attempt at some length by putting my hair up in double space buns, and I posted a picture to show it off. I'm pretty sure all of the comments were well meaning, but more than one person asked me if I was "sure" I wanted to cut it. I knew I was sure because 1) all I had done all day for a month was push my hair out of my eyes, and 2) I'd done this before, and I am no longer afraid of trying something new with my hair. It grows back. It's just hair.
But even more so than the need for a change and the desire for my lack of bangs to be out of my eyes for once, I realized that I didn't feel like myself with the hair I had anymore. I was trying something new, but that new thing didn't end up being me. The look I was going for was something along the lines of a YouTube creator I adore, Estee Lalonde, but growing out my hair taught me that I'm not someone I watch online or see in magazines. Instead, I'm me. From the first time I cut my hair really short, it made me feel more like me. So until it seems time for another change (and I'm sure there will be many more to come), I'm going to keep rocking the pixie (asymmetrically, for now).
Do you have a signature look? How did you find it?