When I was in middle school I went to a hair salon in the mall and, using Drew Barrymore or Ashley Judd as my inspiration, asked for a very short cut. That had to have been some point in the late 90s.
Ah, the 90s. Do you remember those halcyon days of fashion?
No? Are you sure?
Let me refresh your memory about some things that were popular then.
The haircut that I requested was shortly after I had The Rachel, that famous shag that launched a thousand ships and that Jennifer Aniston now famously hates. I’m not sure what made me want a short cut—after all, it’s not like those were exactly super popular amongst the teenage girl crowd—but something made me sit in that chair and instruct them to give me the Ashley or the Drew. Perhaps it was my overwhelming optimism that motivated me: the thought that when they spun me around I was going to have a Disney Princess moment: beautiful, bouncing dress, dulcet voice, and twittering birds flying around my head—the whole nine yards.
This did not happen.
Through the years I’ve embraced lots of different hair styles ranging from the super short (shorter than Daniel’s), short, medium, to the long-ish (when it hung in limp strands to my bust). I’ve had brown hair, reddish hair, brown hair with red highlights, and after this weekend, ombré-ish hair. I’ve had no-bangs, swooped bangs, and straight-across bangs.
I’ve had haircuts that I’ve loved, and haircuts that I’ve hated, and I’ve had a whole lot of fun. I’m by no means the most adventurous woman who has ever lived—hair-wise or otherwise—but I’d like to use this platform for really important work. You know, like, encouraging every woman to take a hair risk or two.
Would you like to hear some of my thoughts on haircuts?
I thought you’d never ask.
In most cases, haircuts are not a big deal. (I say this with the disclaimer that hair is not unimportant, and I recognize that hair can have a big effect on how we feel about our appearance, ourselves, etc.) But haircuts are, by their nature temporary, and I don't think that we should hold ourselves back if we get a wild hair (get it?!) about a particular style.
I don’t do a lot of super scary things, but, and I know this sounds weird, I love the rush I get when I tell the hairstylist to do something—pixie! Highlights! Full bangs!—without knowing how it’s going to turn out and what I’ll look like afterwards. I could look great, or I could look like one of those living, walking Pinterest fails. But that’s the point. Love it or hate it, hair grows quickly. Haircuts are a way to play with my look and figure out what I like and don’t like without too much investment on my part.
Pixie cuts are bold, powerful, and also romantic, and if you keep them on the longer side, like my latest iteration last year, they also aren’t too awful to grow out. Some of my favorite cuts are pixies. They draw attention to the face: suddenly eyes, cheekbones, and jawlines say hello, nice to meet you! On the days when I took the time to blow dry my hair—and this only took four minutes, so theoretically I should have had that time every day—I often felt more feminine than I ever have before. But I’ll be honest and say that on the occasions when I felt less than stellar about my appearance—and no matter how confident you are, those days occasionally pop up—I wasn’t too happy about the cut. There’s nowhere to hide with a pixie, which is fantastic and also scary, depending on your mood.
Don’t take a six-year-old to the hair salon when you get a very short pixie cut for the first time. She will likely ask why you are getting a boy’s haircut, making you feel very confident about your brave hair decision.
I’ve often read that bobs and lobs are some of the most universally appealing cuts. If you like to stick there, consider taking a risk with your bangs or making your cut asymmetrical (longer in the front, for example), or playing with the color.
There are some fabulous men in my life. But men just don’t always get women’s hair. If it were up to my husband, my hair would be like a woman’s in a pre-Raphaelite painting (see above). Long and wavy. And my Dad—who was a prince among men, really did not like the way that I styled my hair. While Daniel loves my hair curly, my Dad preferred it straight and/or pulled back off of my face in a pony-tail. And more than anything, my dad hated the clips that I used to pin my hair down, what he called “barrettes." This seemed to me both a strange aversion on his part and a strangely old-fashioned term for my cute, sparkly hair-clips.
While I know that there are certain hair preferences that the men in my life have had or have, I do what I want with my hair. If I want it to be really short, I cut it. If I want it to be long, I grow it out. If I want it to be ombre, I don’t tell my husband what I’m planning, do it, and then come home and say “what do you think?”
I should say that I have a very supportive, loving husband, and he honestly thinks that I’m beautiful no matter what my hair looks like. I’m sure that makes it a little easier for me to feel like I can follow my wildest hair dreams.
But the bottom line is, if you want do so something with your hair and there are no other more serious factors getting in the way of it, do it. You might hate it. Or you might just love it. Either way remember that your loving, supportive partner chose you for you, not your hair, and that no one expects you to live in a state of suspension where you don’t change your appearance for forty years. After all, as Daniel points out so lovingly, if I had the same haircut I had when we first met, he'd still be hating it and I'd still be flipping out the bottom with my fingers and a cheap blowdryer every morning.
These are some of the celebrity haircuts I’ve modeled my haircuts after: Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Ashley Judd, Katie Holmes, and according to Dan, Suri Cruise. When my hair is longer and I wear it curly, I think that I have a particular affinity with Weird Al Yankovic. I like taking celebrity’s pictures to hair appointments with me. Sure, I’ll never look like Katie Holmes. But I don’t want to look like her. I just want her hair. (Btw, Holmes is obviously beautiful so that's in no way a dig on her.)
Make a hair-salon appointment date with a close friend. This weekend one of my best friends, Laura, and I went to get our hair ombréd. Before I proceed, I’ll say that both of us really like our haircuts and styles, but we also don’t think that we got ombréd. The second thing I’ll say is: going with a close friend can give you the extra dose of boldness that you need. Or it can give you the dose of reason you need if you start thinking that you can handle anything you see on Pinterest.
Favorite Places to Find Hair Accessories: Anthropologie and Etsy.
My Hair by the Numbers:
Number of times I’ve cried after a haircut since elementary school: One.
Number of times I’ve cut my own bangs: Probably six.
Number of times I regretted cutting my own bangs: One.
Number of times I promised a hairstylist that I wouldn't cut my own bangs again: One.
Number of perms I’ve had: Two.
Average number of weeks I wait for a haircut: Probably eleven.
Number of times I wash my hair per week: Seven
Number of times someone has said that I have frizzy hair or I've thought that about myself: One million, eight hundred thousand, and three.
Some of my favorites hair products:
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lavender Mint Moisturizing Shampoo
DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam
SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Chi Flat Iron
Of course, in my opinion, the most important thing is that you feel confident about yourself, and if hair is or is not part of the equation, that's great.
But I love haircuts and I think that they can be as casual or as weighty as you want them to be. They can be a fun thing that you like doing for me-time, and/or they can make you feel brave and ready-to-take-charge when that might be the last thing that you're feeling.
Wishing you lots of success AND fun on your hair journey.
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.