I felt gorgeous with my long hair. Long and blonde. Totally meeting those American beauty standards. (rolls eyes, because you know how much I talk about body positivity and how much those standards suck. Yet, even I get caught falling for them and wanting to adhere to them.)
It was also like a shield. I felt like people noticed my hair before they noticed me. They commented on my hair before they asked anything about me. And most of all, I used it as a way to feel safe, protected, because I could hide behind it. Like Violet in The Incredibles, I experience social anxiety like crazy, and often hide behind my hair in the back of a room because talking to new people is scary. It's like this shield of safety, this shield of fitting it because I'm "pretty," and yet not standing out because people noticed the hair but often didn't care to notice or learn other things about me. (I'm talking about strangers here, like the hundreds I might walk past on campus or sit in a classroom with each day. I got comments about my hair all the time but few times did anyone introduce themselves or ask anything about me.) My hair felt pretty and it felt safe.
I had thought about cutting it for such a long time and always talked myself out of it. I would edit one of my YouTube videos and see myself on screen and think "But it's SO pretty, I can't get rid of it." Or I would dance and love the way it felt flowing around my body and over my face. Or I would like to hide behind it. It was safety, comfort, and beautiful, and I loved my hair. I really loved it.
And that thought alone was what did it. I LOVED my hair. I was attached to it. It meant so much to me and did so much for me to make me feel pretty, this long, blonde mane. I realized that my attachment to a meaningless object, my adherence to societal beauty standards, wasn't doing me any favors. Feeling safe and pretty doesn't make for progress, it makes for comfort. I didn't want to rely on this object to make me safe or pretty. I wanted to make waves in the world. I wanted to do cool stuff and make noise, take up space, and not apologize for it. I wanted to stand out and say important stuff. I wanted to leave my comfort zone and I wanted to stop feeling like my contribution to the world was "being pretty."
So I put on some Taylor Swift music ("I Did Something Bad," in case you're curious,) and took scissors to it in my bathroom one afternoon. After more than 6 months of thinking about it and being sick of all the money and maintenance my hair required. After more than 6 months of being tired of all the migraines I was getting from all the weight of my hair (seriously, this is something I notice whenever my hair gets crazy long, I get migraines way more often.) After more than 6 months of talking myself out of it because I liked being pretty, I finally grabbed the scissors.
And after I chopped off those 14 inches of long, beautiful, blonde hair? I felt liberated.
My short hair felt great. I felt free, lightweight, and oh so happy for change. I felt bolder, and sassier, more myself. I loved my long hair, but I love my short hair too. The difference is, now I don't love it too much. It's not holding me back or making me feel physically bad (migraines.) It's not my safety net of pretty. Cutting off 14 inches of hair was a good way for me to practice non-attachment to meaningless beauty symbols and societal beauty standards.
And I have no doubt that I will at some point have long hair again. After all, I did love it and it was pretty. But it's always good to notice when we are placing too much value on meaningless objects or falling into society's expectations of us, especially as women, to look pretty.
My short hair feels amazing and I feel amazing with it. This has already started to change as my hair grows back out and has recently entered that awkward growing out length, no longer the cute, short hair but also not the long, pretty hair. But overall I am feeling great and wondering WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS SOONER?! I know why, but seriously. I am saving so much money and time not having all that hair to take care of. I was going through conditioner like crazy before haha.
Bonus points- I also felt great because I donated my hair, which I recommend to anyone wanting to cut off their hair. Different non-profits benefit different groups of people (women with cancer, vs children with cancer,) and they all have different rules (can it be colored, does it have to be virgin hair, how much is the minimum required to donate, etc.) Knowing that someone else somewhere will get to feel beautiful because they get to have any hair at all thanks in tiny part to my donation (it takes several donations and donors to make even one wig,) is incredible. I'm so happy to play a minuscule part in that.
My short hair feels great and I feel free with a fresh new start. Funny how a hair cut can do that!
Now here's my question to you: Are you holding on to anything that might be holding you back?