Last week I chopped seven inches off my hair. It took two snips of my largest fabric scissors.
Because, it’s just hair.
Of course, I’m as self-conscious as any other woman in her mid twenties. I’m paranoid about weight, diet and remembering to do exercise just like anyone else.
From a financial perspective, my reasoning went like this… if I have £20, then I can pay for a haircut, which would make me look nicer? Or I can buy two books and spend a few hours curled up on the sofa reading. If you’re reading £20 and thinking ‘only £20’ you’re right. I’m definitely talking about the lower end of hair cut prices.
Most people I know routinely get their haircut. They use the same hairdresser, choose a similar style and pay the price. They’ve always done it, so they don’t take any time to ask why. A hair cut is a necessity. Isn’t it?
Choosing uglier hair is harder than booking an appointment. When a real hairdresser with talent cuts my hair, it looks wonderful. After all, I have a huge volume of long, thick, healthy hair.
But I want to own my choices – proactive choices based on my values and beliefs. I want to base my actions on thought.
Society’s expectations vs autonomous thinking
In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow, he describes this battle of balancing instinctual, inherited needs with the perceived expectations of society. In simpler terms, you need to work out how to be yourself whilst fitting in with society. Plus, try and be a positive contributor towards it.
All this requires, “a drastic change in attitude about what is important and what is not.”
To me, my haircut is of low importance. It has only a minor effect on my appearance. It’s true, I’m like anyone else who stares with envy at the photoshopped models. But once I get over the jealousy, I remember it’s chemicals and water-pollutants, hours of sitting in front of a mirror and some skill with a computer program. A haircut isn’t going to make me taller, thinner, prettier or happier.
Yet, I still fear being looked down upon, as if I am somehow uncouth. I have amazing hair. It’s the aspect of my appearance that instills open envy in others. In school I was told how wonderful it would look if I straightened it. I’ve been told to wear it down more often. I’ve been told to blow dry it. I’ve been told it’s amazing when curled. The possibilities of how amazing I could be if only I managed my hair better seem endless.
In the beginning
Not getting a professional haircut wasn’t the first step I’ve taken towards this neglect.
When I started buying conditioner, I bought it based on price per 100ml. Money was sacred.
It was quite a change from the luxurious conditioner that I grew up with – beautiful expensive bottles, decorated with exotic fruits and words like luscious and silky.
I love the smell. I love feeling how thick glossy and soft it makes my hair. I love long showers.
And then, I started reducing the conditioner I used. Nowadays I often don’t use it at all, despite washing my hair almost daily.
All small steps.
The hair cut
Whilst cutting my own hair might seem crazy, it wasn’t much of a risk. Before I cut it, it was twenty-six inches long. I took off 7 inches and what remains could be restyled and still considered long.
I’m grown-up and professional. Really. I’m sure that grown-up professional looking people don’t have hair chopped with fabric scissors.
At work, everyone else has beautiful, styled hair. In fact, so styled that I’m not sure what the natural hair colour is of almost half the women in the office. I see all this effort and yet, when I joke about my hair, I’m told that I’m not allowed to speak. That it’s unfair that I have such beautiful hair. Comments about split ends and thin hair follow.
I can tie my hair back and pretend, but I want to have integrity.
I don’t want to hide my choices, which is why I blog. Somehow it’s easier to speak through keyboard strokes. I’m giving you the choice of whether to react to my choices or not.
Back to the £20. I bought myself the Dalai Lama’s How to be compassionate – a handbook for creating inner peace and a happier world.
My word isn’t beauty; it’s kind. In the marathon of life, understanding kindness is going to make me happier than having prettier hair.
What do you do without thinking just because you’ve always done it?