Short Hair, Care A Little Less

I feel like someone sheared me.

In case any of you lovely folks has been on the edge of your cyberspace seat since my post about the agony and the ecstasy of planning a big haircut (doubtful, but please indulge my self-centeredness; isn’t that what blogging is for?), here’s the update: I did it. I cut it all off. About 14 inches – twice the length of one of those little hairdresser combs. (Did you know that was how they gauge inches?! I thought my hairdressers were all just awesome estimators of length.)

I feel … shorn. And light. And sort of devoid of identity.

At first I loved it – loved the whole experience. I purposefully went to the hairdresser having neither washed or styled my hair in a day or so, at the peak of hating it and wanting the whole nasty mess of it to just go away. As my beloved hairdresser, Zhanna, bundled my hair into several ponytails (the better to donate with, my dears) and snipped each off just above the rubber band, I gasped a little with excitement. And then, all of a sudden, there it was –  a pile of red, curly, surprisingly soft ponytails a foot long each, lying on the counter next to the jars of scissors and pomades. The jagged line of my hair looked a little violent, like someone had hacked it off in spite, but even that was exciting and edgy and all very real. At first.

The next part, the actual styling of my hair into something resembling a cute, short, curly bob (a phrase I have been obsessively googling for months), was super boring. As it turns out, cutting off that much hair takes I kept turning my head to catch a glimpse of my new ‘do in the mirror, only to have my head forced back to its original position by the formidable Zhanna, who, to be fair, was just trying not to cut open my scalp with her sharp haircutting scissors as I fidgeted.

And then it was done, and blown out straight, and so very, very short and grownup and weird. I sort of loved it and sort of hated it.I shook my head again and again, feeling the bizarre sensation of the ends of my hair touching the top of my neck. I ran my hands through it until the roots got oily and I had to make myself stop. And I stared and stared in the mirror, trying to reconcile this sleek new adult with hair like a lady newscaster with my Disney mermaid idea of myself. I’m still trying.

Last night, I had a hair meltdown. I hadn’t had a good cry about the whole experience yet, but let me tell you, when that cry came, it was worth it.

“It was so beautiful and now I just look (snuffle snuffle) NORMAL!” I wailed. “What have I done? What have I done to myself?”

Obviously over-the-top melodrama aside, the hardest thing for me to cope with is this idea that my standout, my signature, is gone, that without waist-length hair, I blend into the crowd. I think, in hindsight, that I was holding onto more than just hair – I was attached to the idea of being different, and, simultaneously, the deliciousness of being able to hide the rest of me behind this great big mane.

But you know the best part? This is so cheesy, but it feels amazing to know that some little girl going through the horror of chemotherapy and unable to afford a wig for her small bald head will get my hair. I hope all my stupid hemming and hawing will eventually mean a beautiful, if small, token during a long, arduous and (fingers crossed) ultimately winning battle with cancer. I hope my angsty hair has some good recovery vibes in it, somewhere.

This whole experience has made me think so much about what it means to feel attractive, to feel unique, to feel like something about you is worth noticing. Maybe now that I have normal/lady newscaster locks instead of locked-in-a-castle-my-whole-life tangles, I can focus on being the person I’m supposed to be on the inside, rather than just “that girl with the long red hair.”

P.S. In case you’re interested, some pics from the process:

Before …



6 thoughts on “Short Hair, Care A Little Less

  1. You look GREAT! It’s normal to cry a little bit. After all, this was a big change, but as you said, you provided an ill person with a head of BEAUTIFUL red hair, which I’m sure you know is difficult to come by. The beauty of hair is that it also grows quickly, especially if you take care of yourself. Don’t think that you’re now just another face in the crowd. You’re still among the two percent of the population with red locks, and you’re HPW for God’s sake! I hope the change grows on you, in more than one way 🙂

  2. 1. We’re haircut buddies now, and that’s awesome.
    2. You are gorgeous all day e’ryday regardless of your hair length.
    3. You probably won’t stop missing your long hair entirely, but you eventually stop thinking about it every time your head moves.

  3. Your haircut looks great, allows you to road test a new identity, and will help someone going through a rough patch feel gorgeous.

  4. I love your haircut! I’ve actually been thinking about getting a drastic haircut for a few weeks, and your post inspired me to look into donating it. Appointment scheduled for next Wednesday!

    And, I so know what you mean by sort of loving it and sort of hating it. I feel like that happens every time I get a haircut–and mine’s been long and straight and boring for the better part of fifteen years!

    Thank you for this post–and I can’t wait to see what my haircut does to my identity.

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