I cut my hair last week. It’s what I usually do when I want a change. Of course, the things I want to change are not in my hair (only secrets), but there’s something very visceral about shearing one’s ‘do. It’s a signal to the Universe that says, “I’m done with the status quo! Come at me with your best shot, bro!” Or as Felicity said before she chopped off her famous locks, “It’s one thing to say you’re going to let go, it’s another thing to loosen your grip and let yourself fall.”
OK, maybe that’s super deep and more depressing than what I want my new haircut to represent (and LAWD KNOWS Felicity’s hair had serious issues) but there is something to be said about how changing one’s image shifts the way we interact with the world. Recently, I came upon an expression: “A woman’s hair is her life.” I would go one step further and say, “a woman’s hair reflects her life.”
Take my hair-story. Up until the age of eleven years old, I had long hair, always kept up in a ponytail. I remember a classmate asking me, “Why don’t you ever wear it down?” My hair was representative of how I was back then: a shy, straight-A, upright, uptight, responsible kid. I wasn’t the one in the closet having Seven Minutes of Heaven; I was the girl outside, watching the clock. I didn’t let my hair down in any sense.
Then there was the perm in grade seven. A PERM. First of all, who gets a perm under the age of seventy? (Thanks for that, Mom). Second of all, whose perm lasts a whole friggin’ YEAR?! That would be me, and also me. Sure, I was finally wearing my hair down, but now it was this poufy, frizzy, unruly mop on top my head. Grade seven would also be the year in which I was bullied and ostracized by most of the girls in my class. Coincidence? When everyone around you has age-appropriate hair and you stick out like you stuck your sore thumb in an electrical socket? I think not. I didn’t look like the status quo, I dared to be different, and I paid for it.
Who didn’t have The Rachel cut in the mid-90s? I sure did. It wasn’t the most horrible cut (contrary to what Jen says), but surrounding a face that hadn’t fully developed (baby face!), it didn’t do me any favours. But I was fourteen and in grade nine, and attempting to emulate women who you thought were cooler and prettier than you were is pretty much de rigeur of growing up.
My hair post-Rachel was semi-short. I had the choice of either growing down (which, in high school years, would take FOREVERRRR) or cutting up. I chose up. The Winona Pixie Cut. Inspired by her overall awesomeness (this was pre-shoplifting scandal) (WHY ARE WE STILL PUNISHING HER?). Fuck. What a mistake that was. My hair and Winona’s shoplifting. Insipid boys badgered me constantly with their vicious name-calling, I was basically dead to my summer camp crush, but worst of all, I just felt UGLY. And feeling ugly as a teen is, like, the WORST feeling you could experience. My hair took just as long to grow out as it did for me to feel good about myself again (also, NOT a coincidence). To this day, I refuse to get a pixie cut. I mean, it looks good on y’all (J. Law, Bey, etc.) but I just. Can’t. deal. (Hair baggage).
Under the impression that blondes did have more fun, and girl-crushing on Faith Hill (guys, she was HUGE back in the late ‘90s.“Breathe,” anyone?), I went totally blonde during my OAC (a.k.a. grade 13) year. I was fast on the heels of the big, bad world and I wanted to feel like a real grown-ass woman, but, mostly, I just wanted to feel sexy. Faith was sexy. Writhing and rolling around in those satin sheets? Married to Tim McGraw? Orgasming in the desert while wearing a knockout dress? I wanted to experience ALL of that (truthfully, I still do). But I was only 17, and I had a long ways to go. I think my math teacher at the time best summed up me as a blonde: “I think that dye has seeped into your head and has done something to your brain.” (He was a great guy, though. Really).
In my twenties, I stayed au naturale—auburn—and wore my hair long. There were new jobs, guys and apartments, but life still hung in the balance. Much like my hair. Hanging. Staying the same. Looked good, sure, but it wasn’t AWESOME.
Then a few years later, after I returned home from L.A. where a play of mine had flopped, a romance had fizzled and I was generally feeling STUCK, I cut and dyed my hair black a la Angelina Jolie in “Salt.” I thought if ever there was a woman who inhabited what it means to be a total badass in control of her life and her lovers, it’s Angelina. I wore my hair like that for a few years because, uh, guess what? It worked! I felt powerful, sexier and confident. I quit jobs I didn’t like, got promotions, traveled, dated whomever I wanted. I WAS Angelina Jolie (except without all the kids and millions of tats and dinners with Brad).
But life as Angie is tiresome (honestly, how does she do it?). I wanted to return to my roots, both hair-wise and life-wise. I wanted to get back to me, and who I was underneath all these haircuts and dyes. I decided my priority was to feel more authentic, to live life more organically, to be more flow-y. So I returned to auburn, and then, I found myself in my hairdresser’s chair last week. I don’t know what this new phase will bring me, but if my current lob is any indication, it will be lighter, freer, low-maintenance with more bounce than I’ve seen in a while.
My hairdresser said to me, as she cut off my long ponytail,“I’m really happy you’re doing this,” and I agree.