After I cut my hair last week, my so-called friend Andrew said: “I think you looked better with long hair. You look like a 6 year-old now.” I had to kick him on the shin to help him understand how rude and mean what he’d just said was. He replied that cutting hair was as revealing of my childishness as the kick I just gave him.
I hated his face then, but what he said got me wondering about the psychology behind haircuts.
As a child and teenager, I always had long curly hair. If you see a photo of me at age 7 and another one at age 16 or even 20, my hairstyle looks exactly the same. Long hair may be glamourous but to me, it’s always been a reminder of my childhood.
I cut my hair very short for the first time at 21. It was a radical change. I liked my long hair but I suddenly felt a pressing need to cut the connection I still had with childhood. A change had started in the inside and I needed a way to express it on the outside. I wanted my short hair to scream: “I’m a grown up now! Take me seriously!” In retrospect, I think I had cut my hair too short then. It looked all right but not as good as it would have at other lengths. I remember the reaction of a guy from work: “Is your boyfriend okay with this? It takes away all the feminine side of you, I wouldn’t be happy if my girlfriend turned up with short hair.”
Hair is such an important feature for women; I always took good care of it because I knew it was an attractive component of my looks. Still, I didn’t regret the cut; I was able to feel pretty without my long hair.
I let it grow again and soon my long curls were back. I didn’t think about it for a while until another period of change made me cut it again three years ago. I had just been through a rough time and was sick for several weeks. When I got better, I wanted to make a new start and erase bad memories. My hair felt heavy on my shoulders because it had been growing all the while I had been sick. I felt an urge to get rid of it to let it grow again during happier times.
I didn’t cut so short this time. I just told the hairdresser: “I want to cut as much hair as possible, I trust you to do something nice.” And he did. Nick, my fiancé, loved my new look and still does- he often demanded I cut my hair after I let it grow once again.
I resisted because I wanted to keep my hair long for our coming wedding. For many women, long hair is a princess-like feature. Cinderella, Sleeping beauty, Snow White, Ariel, they all have smooth long hair. Naturally, I wanted to look like a princess at my wedding. Recently though, I went through a de-cluttering spree– I got rid of old clothes, accessories, tidied up my papers and the rest of my life. Again, a pressing need to cut my hair came from the inside, as another act of de-cluttering.
This time, I had neither bad memories to erase nor any need to show the world I was a grown up. Rather, I wanted to reach clarity in my head and in my life. Cutting my hair was just the visible extension of the work I had started in the inside. With shorter hair, I also feel more dynamic, more active.
There may be much more to a haircut than it seems. A whole succession of events and feelings often leads a woman to cut her hair. So next time a girl you know gets a haircut, pay attention to the change that might have happened on a deeper level.