On the coffee table in front of me, a peroxide blonde model stared up from of latest issue of Short Hair as if she might leap up from the glossy book, throw back her Megyn Kelly cut with a hearty laugh and say, “You’re really going to cut off five inches? Your boyfriend is going to hate it.”
I felt like Mulan before she sliced off her raven hair for China. Would I look like a man? “Taylor you can take a seat in my chair. I’m going to get your color,” said my hairstylist, Shelly, before disappearing into the back room of the salon. I considered literally running away from this $78 appointment. I imagined what Shelly’s face might look like if she came back in and I had disappeared, the sound of my tires squealing out of the salon parking lot behind me, her chair empty.
After I had been foiled and washed she started snipping. I made sure to reiterate that I wanted it just barely above my shoulders and she leaned my head down gently as if to say, “Let me do my job.”
When she was done and my hair had been blown dry, she turned the chair around just like they do in the movies. What I saw surprised me. I loved it, truly and honestly. My strands were brighter and my layers were gone, along with my split ends. The cut was slightly longer in the front so that it framed my face but didn’t go so far as to scream Rihanna. It was just enough and exactly what I wanted.
When I pulled into the driveway later that afternoon, my hair five inches shorter and two shades blonder, my mother leaned her head down to look at me over her reading glasses and crinkled her forehead as if she had smelled something funny.
“Well that’s different,” she said. She spent the rest of the night mumbling quietly to herself about how I had ruined the life she was vicariously living through me and my extra five inches.
Truthfully, It didn’t matter what my boyfriend said or what looks my mother gave me. He smiled and kissed me, bob and all. My mom got over it and a couple months later had her hair chopped to her ears by the same hairstylist. She looks like a rockstar, by the way. I was angry at myself for not trying the cut sooner. I kept my bob for a year before deciding to grow it back out again. Once more I’m ready for something different. Coco Chanel once said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” That was true for me. Six months after I cut my hair, I left the States to spend four months in Europe.
It doesn’t help that our society idolizes women with long flowing hair. I googled ‘Sports Illustrated models with bobs’ and the search engine results tried to tell me I had misspelled boobs. What’s worse is we teach that idolization to little girls. When I was growing up, the only Barbie I had with a bob was Ken.
Tomorrow, a month or even a year from now, when you’re sitting at the salon, holding the carefully chosen photo of your desired haircut, and the magazines start laughing at you, flip them over. When your hairstylist calls you to her chair, trust her. Trust that she knows how to translate her clients needs. Trust yourself and your vision of what beautiful hair looks like. Don’t run from the chair. Sit down and let your hairstylist do her job.