January 05, 2014

The long and short of it

I must begin this post by saying that this will probably make me sound narcissistic, but such is the nature of what I write.
About a year ago, I chopped my off my hair into a style that is touted as the pixie cut.  Not a lot of thought went on before submitting myself to this transformation.  I have previously told myself that I would grow my hair for two years and not touch it.  I achieved that successfully and it grew long and quickly and I let it be.  A week before the New Year of 2013, a feeling began to gnaw inside of me saying, 'I want the long hair gone!'  There is no logic to this; simply that the long hair had to go.  It had become a burden.  I was not graceful with it even though people are surprised to hear me say so.  I didn't have patience with it; it would get stuck in the most annoying places like car doors (yes, it has happened) and it woke me up at night.  I can identify with what blogger Shreve Stockton had to say, "Long hair would be awesome if I were a medieval princess and had several handmaidens who would brush it and braid it with jewels, but I’m not and I got sick of how much time I had to spend fussing with my hair so off it went. (I also think it’s karmically weird to have that much of one’s past attached to oneself. Not that it’s a bad thing ~ some people handle it incredibly gracefully but I am not one of those people.)"  So, I spoke to my sister about it and she found the perfect style for me.  I went to the hair dresser she recommended and said, on New Year's eve, "I want to chop my hair off."  The hair dresser, ED (her initials), looked at me with concern and I spent the next few minutes trying to convince her to cut my hair as short as I wanted it.  She told me that she had been doing this for 15 years and she does not do a dramatic change on Christmas eve or New Year's eve.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  She even consulted with a co-worker of hers who agreed that I should not make such a change on New Year's eve.  I felt so disappointed and wondered why I had gone there and not elsewhere.  I told ED that this was how I made decision and that I knew myself, but the woman would not budge.  Finally a compromise of sorts was reached and she cut my hair a little short and told me to come back after thinking about it for a week.  I said to her, "you are the strangest hair stylist I've ever met" and left the salon unsatisfied and dejected.  I already knew I would be going back as soon as I could.  But life had other plans and it decided that I was to be holed up in my apartment with the flu.  So, a week later I went back to ED and got the actual cut and look I wanted.  I was happy and relieved and reiterated, "I know myself."  Anyway, she took some pictures of my hairstyle for her portfolio and now agrees that she knows me well enough to realize not to argue with my decisions.  I am often reminded of this scene from Roman Holiday when I think of my interaction with ED:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ4ZU-FA5XA
It is after leaving the salon, that the journey really begins.  Since my hair cut I have received daily praise for it.  I cannot believe it even though I am constantly and genuinely thanking people for their kind words.  The reactions have been unbelievable.  To me it is simply a hair cut.  The hair will grow back (if I let it).  However, the first few days at work I felt like I was inspiring women to take risks.  I've heard comments  like, "you have balls" to, "you are showing us how to take risks."  People are comparing me to someone famous to whom they can relate like Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, Audrey Hepburn or the wife on Homeland who chopped her hair off into a pixie cut as well.  Thankfully there was one sane friend who said, "you look like Veena."  I have been told that I am blossoming under this cut.  Of course that made me wonder what I looked like before with long hair.  People think I look much younger (I get carded often at the LCBO).  One girl always tells me, 'you own it" and doesn't want me to grow my hair out - ever.  I feel like a whole other world of attention has opened up - one that I never expected.  Along with the positive, there is the negative as well - people who think they need to tell me how much they like women with long hair.  One man said to me, 'I thought about it for two days and I have decided I like your hair."  He was someone I saw in my work building but had never spoken to until that day.  You try to take things in stride and tell yourself that you did what you wanted to and others opinion really doesn't concern you; however some days you only wish no one noticed you or your hair.  Again, I share with you words written by Shreve, "The common reaction I’ve caught is that people seem genuinely surprised that they like it. Short-short hair is simply not seen on females between the ages of 6 and 60 around here. One sweet Mormon mother did look at me in absolute dismay, and I could tell she was thinking, “now how are you ever going to marry and have children if you don’t have your long hair??”
Personally speaking,  I do feel like a weight has been lifted and I can concentrate on things other than worrying about my hair.  The side-effect of this hair chop has been that I felt more confident about presenting myself to the world.  I automatically started to dress better in keeping with a modern look that I felt warranted such a cut.  A co-worker in fact remarked on that and I found it interesting that I began so doing without having thought about it.  Part of me feels silly writing about this as a topic, but the amount of attention and reactions warranted this telling because I needed an outlet to express how gobsmacked I was by all the responses.  I feel like I need to be thankful that I have a face that is decent enough to be viewed because I can't hide behind my hair anymore.  That was a big change for me.  People simply viewing my face - the expressions, the reactions - everything out in the open.  A year post hair chop, the reactions have tempered from my friends and family - though I still hear something every now and then.  But the attention from strangers still continues.  Who would have thought that cutting off one's hair would bring such introspection.    


Gary said...

This is a good piece of writing Veena. It's interesting how reflective you are, and how the haircut actually did change some things in your self-perception. Others' also changed their view of you it seems...

As for the look itself, well I believe I complimented you a year ago, and will always find you a lovely looking person - in all styles.

To sound really really corny...you are one of the few people who is being the person your dog thinks you are :)

Mon said...

I love this post, and I hope you write a lot more, Veena ma!

The automatically dressing more modern is a really insightful point. I think you look really pretty no matter how long you have your hair though :)

♥ N o v a said...
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♥ N o v a said...

I agree with Gary. I love these kind of entries -- reflective and analytical, and yet emotional. The human hair is a curious thing -- some cultures honor the hair so much that it is forbidden for a woman to display her natural hair in public. I do applaud you for coming out to your comfort zone. I've kept my hair long for many years, and will try to keep it long for as much time as I can.

Wishing you all the best for the near year. :-)

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