It’s Just Hair…

Here+is+a+%22before%22+I+cut+my+hair+and+a+%22now%22+picture+of+how+my+hair+and+how+it+has+grown+out+so+far.

Here is a “before” I cut my hair and a “now” picture of how my hair and how it has grown out so far.

Caroline Smith, Editor-in-Chief

I never thought I’d have hair “as short as a boy”, but there I was, staring at myself in the mirror as my hair fell onto the ground. The scissors cut my long pieces of hair and then the buzz cutter finished it up – my brother helped me shave the parts of my head that I couldn’t reach. In the moment, I was in awe that I was actually doing this – it was daunting, but I truly was optimistic of what was to come.

Before I made this decision, I really thought about it and if I actually wanted to do it. My mom told me I would regret it, that my head would itch all of the time, and kept questioning why I wanted to do it. I was really upset because I of course wanted her approval, but despite the negativity and doubt, I did it anyway and she now understands.

I kept seeing Tik Toks of girls shaving their heads and the original sound over all the videos said, “This is a PSA to all the girls that want to shave their head: do it, do it, do it now. Because you know what, in 5 years from now, if you don’t shave your head, you can never say you shaved your head. You can never tell your kids that you shaved your head, do you really want to look like a lame parent? No. Shave that head. No one is going to stop you and if people make fun of you, whatever. You only live once, it’s gonna grow back. Don’t listen to people, listen to your mind. Just do it, there’s no cons to it. Just do it, do it, do it, do it.”

Why couldn’t I get the thought of shaving my head out of my mind? I continued to shoot the idea down, pushing it further in the back of my mind. I was trying to convince myself I needed my long hair and I’d be ugly without it or that I’d look like a boy. 

Societal standards are for women to have long hair; it’s always been “better” for women to have long hair. It’s ridiculous, but true. Hair length has been a gender norm, percepted as women have long hair while men have short. The truth is any gender can have any length of their they want, as long as their content and like it, then it shouldn’t matter. It’s not “normal” if women have short hair – there’s always this pressure from our society and feeling like you do have to have long hair, otherwise you won’t be feminine enough. Why is this okay? This needs to change, but hopefully you can begin to understand my reasoning now.

I ended up texting my best friend about the idea and we had a whole conversation; ultimately she completely supported it and said such encouraging things. 

“Maybe you really won’t hate it. Duh of course at first you’re gonna be like what the heck my hair is gone, this is awful and I hate this, but I think you’d be so cute,” she texted, “And do you understand how empowering that is? Hair is such a huge part of identity to girls and you are breaking every regulation and saying ‘I don’t need my hair to be beautiful.’ I think you’ll go on such an amazing journey of self love and self experience, and there’s no better time.”

A picture from the end of August. Little ponytails is a hair style I’m beginning to do more often.

An hour later I was buzz cutting my hair.

Anytime I was going to cut my hair in the past, people told me not to, that I looked better with long hair. This angered me because I was letting what others had to say affect my choices — even if I did look better with longer hair, why would their opinion influence my decision? For a long time, I let people influence my decisions and how I felt about myself, but now all of my hair was gone and I didn’t care what anyone had to say.

As soon as I cut my hair, I thought I was going to hate it and instantly regret it, though I surprisingly didn’t. There was something oddly freeing about it that made me feel like this was meant for me at this moment in time.

I didn’t post anything on social media for weeks, I was very vulnerable; however, my mindset was growing each day. One of my main worries (which seems cretinous, but was very real) was that boys wouldn’t find me attractive anymore.

I quickly gained a “who cares” attitude. I did this for me, no one else, and if boys don’t think I was pretty, okay, whatever. I didn’t need their validation or anyone else’s because I was still pretty.

I didn’t need longer hair to be more pretty or more feminine. I repeated that in my mind so many times, it was unreal how confident I was becoming. I went from wearing hats everytime I left my house to finally just embracing my hair and not caring what anyone had to think about it. 

I realized how brave I was, this was the most raw and real I could get. Yes I was vulnerable at one point, but I sprouted and grew into this whole new person. I got a whole new perspective about myself and how I viewed myself as well as the world and others around me. 

Cutting my hair has grown into a part of my personality, as crazy as it sounds. I look at old pictures of myself and I don’t even recognize that girl, I don’t even remember what it was like to be her. While I do miss my long hair, it’s just weird to think about being a completely different person barely 6 months ago. I can’t recall a moment where I just was suddenly different, it was more of a gradual shift towards the confidence and change. My mindset has changed and just the way I overall act has changed, but all for the better.

Exactly two weeks after I cut my hair, I decided to post something on my snapchat. I posted some pictures and explained what I did and why I did it. The response I got was unbelievable. People I didn’t even talk to or barely knew were telling me it looked good and that I was doing a good thing. Everyone was saying I was so beautiful, they were proud of me, and that I’m so inspiring. 

I didn’t know what response to expect, but it sure wasn’t that. My heart was so full, I was truly ecstatic. It was so surprising and amazing how many people told me that I was inspiring. It was unreal that I could actually inspire people and begin to establish that change. This is exactly what I wanted to do from the beginning, they saw me. If I could affect just a few people, then they could influence a few others and it just continues on. I was offering other people a new perspective about women and our hair. 

I felt powerful, I felt brave, and I was so content with my decision. I was immensely proud of myself because everyone saw what I was doing and the reason I was doing it. I was thrilled to get such a positive response, but most importantly for them to understand my reasoning. I just showed so many people that it’s okay to have short hair –  I was defining something different.

I still have some insecure days and days I miss my long hair, but from the beginning I’ve accepted it. This decision has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made, it was right for me. I am growing my hair out again, and it’ll still be a whole journey, but I can say that the confidence and different perspective I have gained will never stop.

To all the women out there: you don’t have to be “normal”. You don’t have to fit into societal standards, you don’t have to fit this expectation of having long hair. Women can still have short hair and not be any less feminine because of it. You can still be pretty. You can still be beautiful. 

Below is a documentary in which I began to make after I cut my hair. This is the most real thing I have ever posted. It’s long, but if you’d take the time to be a part of my journey a little more, I’d really love it.