Towards the end of 2014, my daughter asked me if I could grow my hair long so I could look just like her. This was very sweet and believe me when I say that she knows how to tug at my heart strings, of course, I’d love to look just like her. It’s flattering and lovely when your children want to emulate you, whether in act or appearance.
Around the same time, I was also having doubts about how my appearance and age would affect my future job prospects as a teacher. I know that sounds a bit silly, but sometimes I find myself listening to those niggling voices of doubt a little too much. You know the ones… they tell you that you’re doing something wrong or that you made the wrong decision. They seem to amplify every negative comment that comes your way, so you begin to doubt yourself. You forget all about what motivated you to make the decision in the first place. I was thinking, maybe I should look more conservative, more like all of the teachers I see at school. Is my look too creative? Too different? I didn’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons and have it affect what future employers thought of me. In retrospect, I know my marks, academic merit, mentor and lecturer references and basically how well I do my job are much more important, but self-doubt can be all-consuming sometimes.
Anyway… I’d also had about enough of my pixie cut at that stage and so I told my daughter, yes and I proceeded to grow my hair out.
I went through all of those annoying stages of bobs and mullets and teeny, tiny ponytails. My hair was blonde, so I dyed it back to it’s natural light brown. Later I got bored with that and added some blonde foils, then later still, dyed it back to brown again. I had trims, I avoided heated styling tools, I used vegan, cruelty-free, sulphate-free, Australian made shampoos and bought deliciously scented leave-in treatments. I fawned over Pinterest images of long, flowing hair and previously unattainable styles like braids, topknots and chignons. I admired the lovely, long locks of my uni friends, and commented and questioned my online connections for tips on growing out my hair, until just over a year later I finally managed the shoulder length mane that my daughter loves.
Now… fast track to today and just like that, I’ve decided to chop it all off yet again. Why, you ask? Well, here are a few reasons:
- I don’t like my hair touching my face – long hair is always in your face, making you hot, inconveniently sticking to your lipgloss/lip balm, blowing in your eyes and just generally making you feel uncomfortable (I live in a windy place people).
- I don’t like the daily battle of my hair-covered bathroom floor – whenever my hair is long, so much of the stuff ends up in the shower drain, all over you when you shampoo/condition your hair, on the floor when you comb it out, stuck in your brush/comb and on your hands when you apply any product, yuck!
- Referring back to (1), once my hair tends to get to a certain length, I tend to wear it up – a lot. I don’t wear it down much because of (1) and because I’m trying not to use heated styling tools too much, to avoid damaging it.
- It takes a long time to blow dry or straighten using heated styling tools – who has the time (or the upper arm strength) to bother styling long hair. I’m usually quite fussy with my hair and I like to style it properly, not just wash and go. I have that in-between hair that is not quite curly and not quite straight which looks awful if I leave it to dry naturally. To quote Fleur Delacour from Harry Potter fame, “Don’t look at me Bill, I’m hideous!”
- The longer your hair, the more expensive it seems to be to have it cut/coloured/treated/styled by your stylist. This is fine for those of you who are working, but I’m a uni student at the moment and I don’t have a lot of extra funds to spend on my locks right now.
- When you wear your long hair out it tends to get dirty, or at least, feel dirty, more quickly. This is something I hate as it means I have to wash it more frequently, which also means I don’t get “mileage” from my laboured styling prowess – see (4)!
- Shorter hair just feels more me.
Perhaps this is a little too much to write about something as superficial as a haircut, but personal appearance does play a very large part in what other people think of you. It’s also the persona you want to project to the world. Your appearance is the first thing people notice about you and whether they are willing to admit it, or not, they do make judgements about you based on what they see. Writing about this topic gives me the opportunity to express my thoughts about my appearance. It also allows me to try to better understand why I feel conflicted about the image I want to project versus the image that makes me most comfortable and happy as a person.
In all seriousness, life is too short to always be compromising on the things that make you happy. Sometimes you should be allowed to tell those inner voices to shut up and just try something new. It’s a very liberating thing to do, perhaps because most people are too scared of change to try it. I embrace change when it’s for positive reasons. I also don’t mind being a little different to everyone else. Besides, it always grows back. Trust me, I think at last count I’ve had my hair cut short five or six times now, starting back when I was ten. This will be pixie number seven.
Let’s see if this time around I can push through the doubts and the negative comments and stick with what makes me happy.