“I Chopped My Hair Off” Club

It’s interesting how much value we attach to hair. There are entire religious ceremonies revolving around a child’s first haircut. My long hair has always been a source of pride and protection; an ever-present shield from the world.

In junior high school, right as I finally felt somewhat popular, I went for a trendy haircut at the mall. Somehow in a manic moment, channeling my inner Pat Benatar, I ended up with a fashionable Staten Island mullet, immortalized forever in the senior yearbook.

In high school, when I was 35 pounds heavier than I needed to be, my hair served as a great distraction. Long, curly, thick hair was the first thing most people noticed, which was exactly what I’d preferred they’d notice. While up top, I got them to linger longer with great eye contact and  full red lips. The goal was to divert from the rest of the body as long as I could. I was lucky to have been at my heaviest during the 1980s when baggy clothes, huge hair, and dark-lined lips were in fashion.

I’ve had the same variation of the curly/wavy long haircut for the last thirty years. Three years ago the random gray strands led me to the coloring club and I’m enjoying membership there. I started with lighter brown, then honey highlights, then caramel and then pink. But always long; always safe.

As I’ve gotten older and shed the extra weight, my hair didn’t need to serve as the distraction it once did. Within this last month, the ends of my hair have dried up and I’ve worn it in a ponytail or messy bun for 95% of the time. I began to meditate on the idea of having shorter hair. I mentioned the idea of cutting about six inches off to my husband. His answer: “Go for it, you look gorgeous with any hairstyle!”

Today, when my hairdresser arrived, she confirmed my over-dry hair status and I said, “Let’s do it. You need a change.”

She colored, glazed, moisture treated, cut, blow-dried, and said, “Don’t flip out. I mean, it’s gorgeous. But you might need a few days to get used to it.”

I walked to my full-length mirror, already fingering my shorter hair. I love it!

It’s shorter than I imagined, but it makes me feel different than I predicted I feel youthful (like Taylor Swiftish) and have been shaking my hair all day. It feels thicker, healthier, luscious, like a fresh lawn. I can wear it down because it bounces when I walk and makes me feel liberated, lighter on my feet. Instead of feeling less feminine, I feel sexier. I’m old enough to appreciate my healthy beautiful body and no longer feel the need to use my hair as a crutch or a veil. Instead, my hair feels like it should: my newest fashion accessory. Besides, I’m thinking this is a great new look for an author picture on a book jacket.

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