What I Learned From My First Bad Haircut

Bad Haircut

I’ve never been very attached to my hair.  Or so I thought.

For most of my childhood it was long and I liked it just fine.  By the time I hit middle school I decided I wanted something different.  I kept getting it cut shorter and shorter until one day I walked out of the hair salon with a pixie cut.  I loved it.  Having really short hair was fun.  And easy.  I didn’t have to do anything with it.  I kept it that way into high school, but then I got kind of tired of being mistaken for a boy so I decided to grow it long again.  By my senior year it was part way down my back and it had grown back curly.  I now had beautiful, long, thick, curly hair.  I loved it.  I could do all kinds of different things with it or just throw it into a bun if I didn’t feel like messing with it.  But then I got bored so I went to get it cut on a whim.  I cut over a foot off, much to the horror of my hair stylist.  She kept asking me if I was absolutely sure I wanted to cut my hair that short.  I started playing with different lengths and styles and honestly really liked each one I tried.

Like I said, I’ve never been very attached to my hair.  I liked all the styles I’ve tried.  I have naturally curly hair that grows quickly so even if something is less than perfect the curls tend to hide it till it’s long enough to do something different with.

This last time I got my hair cut though I said to myself, this is the style for me.  It’s short and fun.  I can straighten it or leave it curly and it looks great either way.  I can roll out of bed and make it through the day without anyone knowing I didn’t wash or style it that day.  I love my haircut.  I apparently became attached to my hair.  I went in to get it trimmed today and for the first time in my life walked out wanting to cry.  In fact I did cry.  I sat in my car, looked in the mirror, and burst into tears.  It looked awful.

I immediately felt guilty for being upset and even a little disgusted with myself.  I felt vain and shallow for caring so much what I looked like.  I felt ashamed that I hadn’t spoken up when I was getting it cut.  Why hadn’t I said anything and why did I feel so awful about not tipping the man?

The thing is, I did say something to him.  I asked him to even out the front.  Instead he picked up his scissors and made the back even more uneven.  He didn’t listen to me.  He told me that he knew what I wanted and asked me to trust that he knew best.  It was a very disempowering experience.  I felt like this man had stolen my voice.  He had assumed that he knew me and my body (or my hair) better than I did.  This is something that happens to woman everyday, that happens to me everyday.  It is a trivial example of the ways in which a woman’s agency is taken from her.  I should not have to fight to be heard when I am speaking about me, my body, my feelings, my emotions, or my experiences.  And I should not have to justify myself for feeling the need to speak up.  I should not have to speak up more than once or shout to be heard.

And I should not feel guilty about saying no.  Or stop.

The second thing I learned is that my appearance matters to me.  I am a professional woman and I like to look like it.  It makes me feel confident.  Powerful.  It reminds me of the post I recently shared about the power of wearing a read dress.  For me, part of my power comes from having a great haircut.  I should not have to feel guilty for wanting to look good.  For wanting to look good for no reason other than myself.  I should not have to qualify that I am in fact not a diva or a bitch for wanting my hair to look the way I ask.  So, I sucked it up and walked into another salon.  They thankfully took pity on me and only charged me a few dollars to fix it.  And I feel so much better.

It makes me a little sad that I am only just really learning that it is okay to ask for what I actually want and to ask again if the first time it isn’t right.  Maybe I should have gotten a bad haircut earlier in life…


4 thoughts on “What I Learned From My First Bad Haircut

  1. Rosie says:

    Reblogged this on FEMBORG.

  2. I really liked this piece, thank you for writing it! I never thought about my hair choices in relation to feminism or “having a voice”, as you put it… but it’s completely true! I’ve always hated stylists who don’t listen to me, or do what I ask. I think this is one of the reasons I used to hate going to salons, and would just do my own hair! Brilliant piece.

    • Thank you!

      I tried to cut my own hair once. It did not go well. I ended up coming up with very creative ways to wear clips, hats, and headbands. 🙂 Now that you mention it though, that was less upsetting to me than the above experience. Probably because I did it myself so I was the only person to blame…

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