SSNIP! SSSSNIP. SSNIP!
The shears sliced easily through my blonde mane, chunks of hair making a perceptible landing on my back, and sliding to the ground. My stylist, Cece Nunez, worked rhythmically, humming. I typed away on my iPad, pausing only for a moment to think how weird it was that I didn’t feel any remorse as the pile of hair at my feet grew.
I’ve grown my hair down to my ass and chopped it off numerous times. (And when I say “chopped it off”, I mean a pixie, not a lob.) Naturally a dirty strawberry blonde, I am blessed/cursed with a fast-growing. wavy head of hair. It’s fine, but there is so much of it that when it’s long, it takes 45 minutes just to blow dry. It’s extremely heavy, and most of my visits to the salon are to thin it out in addition to taking off dead ends.
The first time I cut it into a chin-length bob, I was six or so, and I freaking adored it on numerous levels. It was a break from the disgusting process of perming, so I was STOKED my eyes would not have to burn in their sockets every couple of months, de rigueur in 1992. I went to my grandmother’s house, ready to show off my awesome grownup hair and soak up some guaranteed compliments. Her instant, blatant disgust was incredibly confusing. After all, her own hair was short, and had been most of her life, even in the old photos around her house. “I just don’t understand,” she complained. “You have the most beautiful hair, women would die for it.” My six-year-old brain thought something along the lines of “That is super fucked up,” And I went back to the business of growing up, having learned the early lesson that cutting your hair is (A) not ladylike, (B) not beautiful, and (C) an act of rebellion.
I’m always told to ” just leave it alone”, but I just can’t. I have hair ADD, causing me to make a drastic style change every time I suffer a setback or loss, or simply get bored. I’m also admittedly spiteful. And as much as I love my hair, I hate how people use it to define me, or put me in a certain box of “lovely, pleasant blonde lady that won’t rock the boat”. Breakup? I’m dying that shit as black as my heart. New gig? Chopping it off. As much as I love my shiny, long, blonde hair, I want to love it on my terms, no one else’s.
To be honest, that shiny, bright blonde hair can feel totally disgusting. It gets frizzy in the humidity, impossible to please. I shed incessantly, and it is everywhere in my house, truck, and office. It gets on black clothes, balls up with dog hair and creates Mutant Super Bunnies that waft around my hardwood floors looking like the ghost of a large rat. Hell, I even find my hair on the dogs themselves. It ruins vacuum cleaners. It gets wrapped around my toes and stuck between my butt cheeks in the shower. It clogs the drains so often, I’ll risk dissolving a pipe by dumping a bucket of Liquid Plumbr on the reg.
Training up to 3 times a day means constant showering, and that’s a big problem with long hair. I’m faced with the no-win choice of washing it and waiting to air dry (6-ish hours. Up to 10 in humid Florida summer months.), dedicating a solid hour to blow-drying and styling it (Actual LOL!), or showering with it in a messy bun and then using half a bottle of dry shampoo to mop up the greasy roots and cover the musty smell (usually the wining approach). And then my neck gets to support 3 lbs. of messy bun all the time, causing lots of literal headaches and making me look like a perpetual sorority girl, minus Uggs.
Please, remind me how glamorous long hair is again?
While we’re talking about training… Don’t forget that there are plenty of women who will actually choose NOT TO WORK OUT AT ALL because they’d rather avoid the post exercise cleanup that might take from their immediate prettiness. If you are one of the naysayers rolling your eyes at this point, you’re just in denial how much effort women have to go through to be thought of as conventionally attractive. (Think about it. If I take an hour bootcamp class, then showering + very minimal hair and makeup takes another 90 minutes = Nevermind, I’ll just be on the couch, Pinning photos of nice hair and abs.)
Part of my college Freshman 15 was directly due to my aversion to having to shower and then blow-dry my hair or risk having it freeze and snap off during a Montana winter (that’s actually a thing, Florida friends). When I finally cut my hair off senior year, almost instantly I got into the best shape of my life up to that point because it was so freaking easy to look human again afterwards. And I don’t even have the additional trials and tribulations of extensions, or weaves– that’s another blog post.
There’s the added bonus of lack of choice– and I’m adamant that this is a huge upside. Steve Jobs is famous for his black mock turtle necks. Unencumbered by choice, we’re told, Jobs’ prolific brain was free to think the thoughts that would eventually lead to whole restaurants full of people staring at their iPhones instead of talking to their dates. If I’m going to a fancy party, I have a few ways to style my hair, but mostly it is what it is, and that is a relief. I’m certainly not going to freak out about it like I would with a sopping wet head of hair down to my tuckus and a wedding to be at in one hour. I’m just not good at doing hair, while I LOVE doing makeup.
My short hair always kind of looks edgy. I don’t have to try hard or dress a certain way. It has “IDGAF” written all over it. And that’s a pretty good reflection of who I am. My Inner Lindsay has short hair, because my most confident, happiest times have all been had with short hair. I hope it gives people the accurate impression that I value being genuine, and I’m not about frills, unnecessary pleasantries, or BS. Additionally, I think it’s just more naturally flattering on me than long hair. I think it’s …. dare I say it… prettier.
To quote the India Arie song: I am not my hair. A bunch of dead protein particles do not make me beautiful. I’m a woman because I say I’m a woman, not because long hair qualifies me to be one. My femininity is mine because I declare it. It does not belong to a patriarchy that would prefer that I spend my time curling my locks instead of lifting weights or running a business.
And so I choose. I choose being able to shower, do makeup, and be fully dressed within 20 minutes, even if it’s after training 2-3 times a day.I choose hair that bends to suit my life, instead of the other way around. I choose hair that accurately reflects who I am.
It also means choosing to live with comments ranging from the excessively complimentary (my favorite: “You look like Tinkerbell!”) to backhanded and/or ignorant. I’ll save you the time of asking me yourself, and just break it all down here:
- “Aren’t you afraid of looking like a lesbian?” Assumes that looking like a lesbian is a bad thing, which it’s not, so the answer is no. Also, my muscles and affinity for Birkenstock sandals already make ignorant people think I’m a lesbian anyways, so the point is moot.
- “Are you going through a breakup?” No.
- “Don’t you think fewer guys will hit on you?” This part is actually half true. I do get hit on less– by douchebags. The quality of people attracted to me with short hair is FAR higher. (And yes, I get hit on by more people of both sexes.) In all, it’s one of the best quality control measures I’ve ever taken.
- “Won’t it bug you when you work out?” Actually, it just kind of does its own thing, and I forget about it. I don’t have to search for a ponytail holder constantly, and I keep bobby pins and headbands for when it gets long enough to get in my eyes. And really, when it’s long it just ruins my double unders, sticks to my sweaty face during box jumps, and gains super eyeball whipping powers if it’s braided. That’s way more of a pain.
- “Are you afraid of looking like Justin Bieber?” I’m not going to lie to you. This is legitimately the worst fear I have associated with short hair. I’m still a woman, and can be vain AF. But that’s why I have the best stylist I can find– it’s all about the right cut. Then again, it can NEVER be as bad as the hairstylist in Missouri who gave me a high and tidy. After muttering “Why would anyone want short hair?” she gave me an actual man’s haircut, leaving me with about half an inch of hair. I was hysterical. I considered going the Full Britney as I bawled and texted my mom asking her to send hats. After six weeks of growing it out, it looked like this:
- “I could never pull that off.” I’m not asking you to, and I’m not judging you. But since you brought it up, you could. You just don’t want to, and that’s fine, too. It’s your hair, after all.
Cece whipped the chair around to face the mirror. “We’re all done,” she announced. And my breath caught in my throat, because after years of hauling around hair attached to baggage and bad memories, it was gone. I looked like… me. I felt lighter, unencumbered. I wasn’t ten feet out of the salon door before a random man stopped me and told me I looked beautiful. And damned if I didn’t feel beautiful, too.