I went through a traumatic experience last year. It was something that changed me in so many ways that I am still working on it. It changed the way I felt about myself, it changed the way I saw myself and my worth. It was such a profound experience that when I mentioned it, in what I thought was an off the cuff way to my shrink she added it to the list of thing to talk about in our sessions.
I cut my hair ….
Now you may be thinking ummm this is stupid, what a ridiculous thing to have a traumatic experience about. And you are right. But it was a lesson that was massive for me because I realise now just how much of my ego and worth was put into my hair.
My hair was something that I have always received compliments about from everyone including hairdressers. I have been blessed with hair that quite naturally, is pretty. If my hair was ok, it didn't matter what I was wearing or how sallow my skin looked, or how old I felt. It was all pretty much ok.
This is my hair at the beginning of April 2014
It is long. The back touches around my lower back. I dye it regularly because as much as the colour of it is ok, it isn't punchy. So I have bleached the tips a few times, or I dye it in reds and purples to cover the few greys that are coming in.
But I had started to feel a weight from my hair. It felt boring and I wanted a change.
And then I saw this picture and man, I wanted a light choppy soft hair like this. It looked fresh and new and I wanted to feel that. So I went to the hairdresser and said cut it, but don't cut it this short. Just shoulder length, choppy and light like this. The result was really lovely.
I felt more modern, less flat. It felt a little more mumsy but I didn't have to think quite as much about moisturiser or how often I shampooed it. And it felt lovely. But that time was relatively short lived.
I went to the hairdresser again to have it cut back in. Lesson learnt, do not go to the cheap hairdresser and wind up with the apprentice. I received the worst haircut of my life. The layers were all wrong. I had layers that were only a few cms long at my crown. Bits were standing up so that it looked like I had some weird blended mohawk. And for the first time in my life my hair didn't feel pretty. I started wearing a beanie as often as possible just to hide it. Work was awful because on top of my ugly uniform, I couldn't hide my hair and just had to walk out the door looking like something the cat had dragged in.
I couldn't rely on it to be the thing that made me feel 'pretty' and my ego just didn't know how to deal with it. I had never felt quite as low about myself physically as I did with bad hair.
And then for a derby event I had to dress up like a punk and I did my hair like this. All slicked to one side and big on the top. And everyone, EVERYONE commented about how amazing my hair looked, and said wow you should shave the side. And man did my ego need that. I liked the way it looked as well. It took that mumsy feeling away. And for the first time my hair didn't feel pretty, or ugly, it felt funky…. I wanted more.
Cut to this … a slightly drunk hilarious night where we decided to shave 1/2 of my head. Because months of this bad haircut had passed, and my hair still looked terrible and so I figured, if it can't look pretty it may as well be funky, can't get any worse.
I was wrong….
Unless I put a heck of a lot of effort in, and to be honest I have no clue how to put effort in to make hair look good, I had a 1/2 mullet. It was horrendous.
And so, as all normal people do when they are having some weird existential crisis … I figured, fuck it and cut it all off.
And straight away I new I had made a MASSIVE mistake.
I complained to those nearest to me and it must have been so boring to listen to. But what they were listening to wasn't really about my hair, it was about my loss of self, well the part of myself that still needs to walk out the door feeling together, and lets be honest, attractive. And without my hair being part of that, I just felt plain, no worse than that, I felt ugly.
Ok break time … because I know that reading this could lead you to think that I'm a complete idiot. and yeah partially you are right. But we all have these things right? these parts of us that if it was taken away you would feel less. For me it was hair, but it could be a range of things. Maybe its going out without makeup, maybe its the way you dress and present yourself. Maybe being the least smart person in a room would rock your self worth, or being the one that carries a little more weight, maybe you aren't refined enough, maybe you aren't cool enough, maybe you don't have enough money, or enough success, maybe …. well hang on that's the point isn't it …
And that's why my shrink figured it was worth putting on the list.
But lucky for me I had already realised it. It wasn't about a bad haircut, it was about taking away something that made me feel enough when I walked out the door. And thank goodness I realised it when I did because the next step would have been me shaving my head.
Today I have a short bob. I have this weird piece that won't grow fast enough and keeps bugging me and I still often look in the mirror trying to figure out how to fix my hair. I still wear a beanie when I just can't deal with the madness or just because they are cool. But now I try and remind myself that my hating my hair is just a symptom of me probably needing to love more things about myself. And some of the time it works. I no longer hate that my hair doesn't look pretty. Sometimes, although it's still rare I'm even thankful for that stupid haircut. The biggest thing is sometimes I think I can still be beautiful without my hair.
Now don't get me wrong, I have at least another 15 things that play on my mind when I go to walk out the door, but I hope now that now I have survived the haircut I can use those lessons to deal with of those parts of me that tell me I'm not enough.