Throughout my whole life I’ve been raised in a society with the idea that having long hair makes you beautiful. It’s seen as feminine, and therefore overall makes you prettier and more attractive as a woman. Long hair is for girls, short hair is for boys – you know what I’m talking about. Obviously, it’s 2018 now – times have changed. Boys have long hair and girls have short hair, it’s not a big deal, so personally, why do I still feel like it is?
I’ve had long hair all my life, not because I felt any pressure to keep it that way (as such, I’ll get onto that in a minute) but just because I liked it. It made me feel pretty. Of course, there have been occasions in my life where I’ve thought, screw this, and then chopped all of my hair off, and whilst at the time it felt like the most freeing thing in the world, I’d quickly grow to regret it a week or so afterwards.
I cut all of my hair off once when I was around 13, and up until that point I’d always had long hair (minus the flattering ‘bob’ cuts you have to endure when you’re a baby of course). I literally did it because I was bored of having long hair and wanted to see what short felt like for the first time, and of course, it was only hair…it was going to grow back. No big deal. It didn’t really bother me once I’d cut it all off because at that age, even though I was in high school and beauty standards and stereotypes were obviously a thing, I was still too young to be bothered by it personally – yes I cared about what I looked like, but at 13 I just wanted to change my hair and see how it felt. Once I’d done it I just knew I was eventually going to grow it out and go back to long hair again and that was that.
So let’s skip to being 16, after 3 years of hell due to unforeseen circumstances and mental illness, I’d had enough…of everything. As you get older you begin to care about your appearance more and I loved my long hair, and so did everyone else. It wasn’t that I was known for it or anything – I wasn’t like a real life Rapunzel, but I had long hair all the same and used to take so much pride in it, I’d have it in long beautiful curls or nice and straight with lots of volume, it was part of my look. After I left school, (2014) I was just so done with everything, mentally I was so exhausted and now that I’d left school I just wanted to get away from everything, to cut ties with everyone and kind of reinvent myself. I wanted to be someone new.
So I cut my hair off.
This was in 2014, so it was during the time of Kylie Jenner’s short hair and overdrawn lip stint, therefore I was taking inspiration from that. She made short hair look so good and so fun, but of course – it’s Kylie Jenner, she makes everything in her life look good.
Before making the big decision, I’d spent hours on Youtube scrolling through endless videos of people who had took the plunge and gotten rid of their luscious locks. Hours. Can you believe people spend that much time watching other people’s experiences just to decide whether or not they should get a haircut? I know I’m not the only one who does it, those videos have thousands of views for a reason.
After my Youtube binge and staring at Kylie Jenner’s Instagram page for weeks on end, I booked the appointment. As I was going to be getting rid of all my beautiful locks I still wanted to have something quirky about them, so I decided to go for a bit of ombre with the chop (also Kylie inspired). I remember sitting in the chair watching my hair stylist cutting off the first section of hair in the mirror as it fell and scattered in strands across the floor, and I felt nothing. After this, more sections and strands were being cut until I was surrounded in a sea of what used to be my hair suddenly covering the whole floor around me, and the only thing I could think of was how freeing it felt.
After a couple of hours and an ombre later, I left the hairdressers and began my 10 minute walk home, I was beaming. I literally couldn’t stop smiling, I felt so amazing and free, the ends of my hair lightly bouncing and brushing the tops of my shoulders as the wind danced through them. I remember calling my friend and being like “this is the best decision I’ve ever made, I can’t believe I haven’t done this sooner.”
My hair was my safety blanket, I’d always used it as something to hide behind, to contribute to part of my beauty because I felt that without it, I wouldn’t have been half as pretty. The feeling of leaving the hairdressers that day was one I’ll never forget, I felt so happy for the first time in a long time, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that free. After losing my best friend, losing myself, depression anxiety, unrequited love, being used and dropped by someone I cared for so dearly at a time when I was so vulnerable – leaving school and realising that most of the people I hung out with weren’t actually real friends, it was kind of like a fuck you world. I’m going to cut all my hair off because I’ve had enough of you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Leaving school meant a new me, and that’s exactly what I was. I wanted to erase the past few years of my life from my mind, and that meant erasing the idea of what everyone knew me as with it.
This was a great time for me because I loved my new hair, yes there were a few times when I missed my old locks but that’s natural, I’m pretty sure everyone has those thoughts / feelings after making such a drastic change to their appearance. I was in love with my new do and again, staring at Kylie Jenner’s Instagram photos became a part of my daily routine, she kept chopping her hair more and more and I thought you know what? I wanna do that too. I had my ombre cut for around 2 months before booking another appointment at the hairdressers to have a couple more inches chopped off.
Though this is where it all went wrong, and I think this is where my fear comes from.
I’d basically wanted my hair exactly like Kylie’s, but I’d miscalculated how short her hair actually was. It was the same length as mine currently, but because of the way she was styling it in her photos, it looked shorter. At this point she just had short black hair instead of the ombre and I was like yeah that looks cool, I think I’ll do that. The hairdresser that had done my ombre had literally put an inch of it at the bottom of my hair and so I knew that if I was going to have anymore cut off, it was going to get rid of all the blonde parts, but I liked the look of Kylie’s short and dark style and thought whatever, let’s go for that (my hair is naturally dark anyway so there were no problems there). My hairdresser was chopping bits off at a time and asking if it was enough and I kept saying no, I think we should go a little shorter. Before I knew I’d taken off about 2 and a half inches inches and my hair was now above shoulder length, but because I was still sat in the salon chair at this point I don’t really feel like it sank in, I was like oh it’ll be okay once I get home and wash it and style it myself, no big deal.
It was hideous, and I mean hideous. Or to me it was anyway. I hated it. I remember getting home and my mum just looking at me like……is that what the style is these days? I reassured her that I liked my new do though on the inside I was freaking out like what the fuck have I done. I remember I had to go to work the next day and nothing I was doing was making it look any better, absolutely nothing. It was so short that I couldn’t even shove it in a ponytail without it all falling out and having to put 100 hair grips in it. It was awful. I remember standing in the kitchen before I was about to leave for my shift and just crying. I cried and cried and cried. My first pay cheque I spent on hair extensions (not human hair ones) and for the next year of my life every day was a living nightmare because I had this horrible bob cut that didn’t blend into these plastic hair extensions, though I refused to let anyone see me without them in. It sounds funny now but at the time it was traumatic, I remember going for a sleepover at my best friend’s house and only taking my extensions out once all of the lights were off and we were about to go to bed, and waking up early to put them back in again before she woke up and would see me.
After that, I vowed never to cut my hair again, and I haven’t. My hair is back to its pre cut length now (about 20 inches) and it’s been about 3 years since that traumatic incident, those memories will haunt me forever. They’ve pretty much scarred me for life and I can’t get past the barrier that is – if I hadn’t gone for that second haircut, I would’ve never had this problem because the initial haircut was the best thing I ever did. I’m 20 now, and the urge to chop my hair off again is slowly but surely creeping back into me, I feel like it’s just something I need to do. The problem with me is that I suit and look prettier with long hair, but I feel better with short hair, and which one is worth more? Like I said, my hair is my safety blanket, I know I look more beautiful and feminine with long hair, I know I look prettier. I have a naturally round face so short hairstyles aren’t always the best thing for me looks wise but I feel more myself with short hair, I feel like that’s me.
I am very much a girl that runs with the wolves rather than dances with the fairies, I am messy and free and chaotic and I wear band shirts with jeans more than high heels and dresses. Short hair gives me the feeling of being my true authentic self, but when I look in the mirror I wouldn’t see my true authentic self because my long hair would be gone and I’d think wow, I look ugly as hell and therefore feel like shit right now, (and so on until my hair grew back). It’s stupid. It’s dumb and it’s ridiculous, I know it is. I know you’re all thinking it too and I wish more than anything that I could just snap out of it, but I can’t. All I can think of is why would I purposefully make myself look uglier, when I have the option to look prettier? Why would I do that? And it’s not true, I know it isn’t, but it’s the way I see myself and I don’t think this way about anyone else, I don’t have these views or opinions on anyone else apart from myself. So why can I not practice what I preach? Why can I give all of these uplifting, encouraging words to everyone else but not take my own advice and use them on myself?
They say that when someone cuts their hair it’s because they’re about to make a big change in their life, because they’re cutting off all of the dead things weighing them down. That’s the reason I cut my hair off when I was 16, but now I want to do it because I want to feel like me. Long hair makes me look more attractive, but short hair makes me feel like myself. I know which one I want to choose, I just can’t quite bring myself to push past the barrier. Do I want to feel like my true authentic self at the cost of looking in the mirror every day regretting what I’ve done and feeling like I’ve hindered myself for it, or keep my long hair and look in the mirror every day knowing that if all else fails, at least I can still make myself look and feel a bit prettier?
I know that long hair doesn’t equal beauty, I know all of that’s bullshit. I don’t believe it in general and I don’t believe it for anyone else either – I don’t believe that you reading this will be any less feminine or attractive or beautiful if you shave your head tomorrow. I don’t believe that the girl I work with will be any less beautiful if she suddenly decides to chop her waist length hair off into a pixie cut. Society teaches you that as a female, having long, luscious hair makes you sexier, more attractive, more feminine, more beautiful – more desirable. But to who? The consumer. The customer. The audience. Not to yourself. It’s all bullshit.
I know and believe all of this, yet I can’t seem to apply it to myself. I can’t overcome the fear that I’ll be less beautiful if I cut my hair off, even though I’ve done it before and loved it.
I’m not really sure where I was going with this post apart from to remove the idea that long hair equals beauty, because reality check – it doesn’t. I just needed somewhere to put my thoughts. I’m sorry that I’ve written so much here but as you guys know – I always have a lot to say!
Hair does not equal beauty, and as Millie Bobby Brown so recently said (which is freaky, because she posted it as I was writing this post) – “The day I shaved my head was the most empowering moment of my whole life. The last strand of hair cut off was the moment my whole face was on show and I couldn’t hide behind my hair like I used to. The only image I had in my head about what I could possibly look like is Charlize Theron in Madmax. As I looked at myself and couldn’t see my old self, I realized that now; I have a job to do and that is to inspire other girls that your image or exterior part is not what I think is important. What I find important is caring, loving and inspiring other girls.”
All my love,