Today I got a free haircut.
If you know me, you know I like free things, but a free haircut is never a good sign.
It’s not that it’s a terrible haircut either. Really. It’s fine. It’s just nothing like we talked about before getting it cut. The hairstylist, let’s call her Ray, showed me a picture of something that would look “adorable” on me. It was all one length; a blunt bob. It was exactly what I wanted, and I wondered how she found a more perfect picture in five minutes than I had in several months.
You see, I had been hoping and waiting to get my haircut for the past 8 months.
I’ve grown out my pixie, but it should be really grown before I get it cut.
It’s longer, but I want there to be a little extra so there was something to trim.
There’s a little extra, but maybe I should wait until the front can be the longest.
And then, today, I decided it was time. After living off of self-trims for a year and a half, it was time to get things tidied up.
I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so I couldn’t tell what was happening above my smock until it was completely dry.
“Put on your glasses,” Ray said.
I slipped them on, and the layer above my ear was staring back at me, 3 (4?) inches shorter than it had been when I walked it. That stupid, stubborn spot is the worst to grow out. Anyone who’s grown out hair knows is the TOUGHEST. It takes the longest. You pull and yank and will it to grow, and mine did.
But now it’s sticking out, chopped off above my ear.
Like I said, it’s not an ugly haircut exactly. With time I might even like it, but in that chair, staring at something that I had waited for for over a year, I began to cry.
I tried to hold it in, and I did okay. But I couldn’t stop the guttural groan that left my throat. Ray continued to flip it around as my hand slowly lifted up to feel. Yes, it was that short.
“It’s so short,” I said.
She assured me it wasn’t. “You didn’t lose any length off of the bottom.” She was right. The bottom layer stayed the same. Literally, the back of my hair–what I wanted cut–stayed the same.
I told her it didn’t look a thing like the picture. She got the picture out, assured me it did. I argued. She said it was her fault. I kept silent. She brought up the picture again and argued more. I kept silent.
I stayed silent as she hugged me. I stayed silent as she kissed me on the cheek, several times. This woman I had only known thirty minutes smooshed her cigarette mouth to my face over and over. “You’re gorgeous. You’re gorgeous!”
I think she did that because she knew. She knew not that it was not what I wanted (though that too). I think she did that because she knew that hair is so stupid for women.
The way we view hair is so stupid. It means so much. It means too much.
And that hit me on the way home. I was being ridiculous.
But you know what? It didn’t make me stop crying. I wish that thought had taught me something about how women shouldn’t use their looks for self worth. In this scenario, I’d wipe my tears, blast the music, and laugh about it over dinner. But just as I was on the verge of reaching for the radio dial, my short layer fell into my eyes and my little giggle at the ridiculousness of it all turned into a full-on sob…
which turned into full-on yelling in the car
which turned into laughing at how stupid I was being for getting this upset
which turned into crying at how stupid I was to go to a stylist I didn’t know
which turned into yelling again.
So it goes.
Is it completely inappropriate to pull out Vonnegut at a time like this? I think yes, but then I touch my hair and my soul screams no.
I cut my hair two years ago because I wanted a change, but I also wanted to not depend on it. I always had this long, thick hair that sort of overtook my look. And when I cut my hair, it was like I saw my face for the first time. I didn’t want my hair to be beautiful, I wanted to shine without it.
If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks. – Amy Poehler, Yes Please
In many ways, I was making a similar decision when I cut my hair. I learned that I was worth more than hair.
Flash forward, and I’m crying about a measly 3 (4?) inches.
And then I laugh at it, and I try to think good thoughts. I really, really try. I know caring this much about hair is stupid, and I’m letting it go.
Right now. Big breath. It’s only hair. Big breath. I’m more valuable than getting the exact haircut I want. And last big breath. I want to be the kind of beautiful that can pull off any hair or no hair at all.
I want to be pretty like this:
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. -Roald Dahl, The Twits
I want to be lovely, not because of my hair, but because of my thoughts. I’m making them prettier one. big. breath. at. a. time.
And now I’m also thinking that this entire blog post is so emotional about hair, which sends me into a fit of laughter. That might be the best thing to do, actually. Laugh and laugh and laugh and choose which hat to wear. Luckily, I did do a fashion show the other day.