On the coffee table in front of me, a peroxide blonde model stares 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 feel like Mulan before she sliced off her raven hair for China. Will 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 consider running away from this $78 appointment. I imagine what Shelly’s face might look like if she were to come back in and I had disappeared, the sound of my tires squealing out of the salon parking lot behind me.
I go sit down.
After I have been foiled and washed, she starts snipping. I make sure to reiterate that I want it just barely above my shoulders, and she leans my head down gently as if to say, “Let me do my job.”
When she is done and my hair has been blown dry, she turns the chair around just like they do in the movies, and I let out a small gasp. I love it, truly and honestly. My strands are brighter and my layers are gone, along with my split ends. The cut is slightly longer in the front so that it frames my face but doesn’t go so far as to scream Rihanna. It is just enough and exactly what I wanted.
When I pull into the driveway later that afternoon, my hair five inches shorter and two shades blonder, my mother leans her head down to look at me over her reading glasses and crinkles her forehead as if she had smells something funny.
“Well that’s different,” she says. She spends the rest of the night mumbling quietly to herself about how I have ruined the life she was vicariously living through me and my extra five inches.
Later that night, my boyfriend smiles and kisses me, bob and all. And a few months later, my mom has her own hair chopped to her ears by the same hairstylist. I go on to keep my bob for a year before deciding to grow it back out again, when once more, I’m ready for something different. Coco Chanel once said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” This holds true for me; six months after I cut my hair, I leave the U.S. to spend four months in Europe.
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 that we teach that idolization to little girls. When I was growing up, the only Barbie I had with a bob was Ken.
The lesson is this: 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 client’s 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.