I have made an appointment to cut off almost all my hair on Friday — about 20 inches — and I am terrified in that excited sort of hopeful way where you’re simultaneously aware of how it can all go horribly wrong and make you bite down tears every time you look in the mirror.
This is how long my hair is at present:
This is the shortest it’s ever been in the last 17 years:
I had it chin-length when I was 12 or 13, I think, but I don’t have photos (which is for the best).
This is how short I want to cut it:
(While trying to remind myself that Audrey Tautou’s cheekbones do not come with the cut.)
The reasons are manifold. My hair is well overdue for a cut — I’ve got at least 4 inches of split ends that look awful — and its weight and length are now driving me to distraction. But why not just hack it back to shoulder-length again? I like that length. It makes for a significant change while staying well within my comfort zone. I can still braid it, tie it up in a bun, style it a bit.
Why indeed. I may yet forget the reasons between now and Friday and opt for just that. Because change is scary and this is the kind of change I’ll have to live with for at least a year and the thought of hating my reflection while feeling I’ve made a terrible mistake and longing for my hair back — it’s unpleasant.
But then I tell myself that I am ALWAYS wearing my hair up and out of the way, and that my favourite hair style involves braid crowns which I’ve never managed to do no matter how strong I make my triceps and what if I get a haircut that mimics that effect, but then I think BUT BRAIDS I WON’T HAVE BRAIDS and then I get sad again, and then I think of all the photos of me on websites and next to poems and stories where I have long hair, and whether or not I’ll hide behind them while I hate the way I look, and then I get distracted thinking about the politics of women’s appearance as related to their work and I get angry and then I try to tell myself I’m overthinking things and then I get angrier because I’m actually not and stop trying to minimize my totally legitimate fears, SELF!
Ultimately my decision’s coming down to practicality: all my hairsticks and hair ties are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, I’ve run out of chopsticks and am breaking pencils, and dealing with my hair’s vicissitudes is, no matter how much I hate admitting it, preventing me from going swimming as often as I need to to get healthy again. It’s ridiculous, but there it is. Also I’m ready for a change, by which I mean I doubt I’m going to get more ready for a change of this magnitude by putting it off further, and I’ve toyed with the idea for years, ever since trying on a Crow-girl wig at an event with Charles de Lint some 12-odd years ago.
So I may yet chicken out. I may turn up at the hairdresser’s on Friday and show her that Audrey Tautou photo and have her look at my hair and shake her head and say it probably won’t suit and I should go with something different. Or I may go through with it and hate it and take to wearing cute hats a lot.
Or maybe I’ll go through with it and like it.
Maybe I’ll be so emboldened by the change that I’ll get it dyed the blue I’ve wanted since I figured out hair colour can be changed.