December 15, 2009


Hair style is the final tip-off whether or not a woman really knows herself. --Hubert de Givenchy

Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground. Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices. --Shana Alexander

From the age of twelve to twenty-one I kept my hair short. Initially it was due to the maintenance of long hair, the constant care without reprieve, that I couldn't bring myself to do. While that is still partially true, by age seventeen I realized hair meant more to me than that. It manifested into an extension of my self image. I've seen this before in the extremity with mohawks, colored locks, and the sheer amount of accessories one could clip onto their head. I never really went down that path, save for the love of red hair, my hair was simply short.

But for me that meant empowerment. Short hair is the calling of the modern career woman. She is smart and sassy. She is a leader, she is strong, and she didn't let a man dictate her business if she could help it. Outspoken and aggressive, that was the kind of woman I wanted to be.

Yet, after my first boyfriend, I felt I could no longer represent myself as a smart and strong woman. A victim of abuse and poor decisions, seeing my short hair raised the feeling of guilt, that I had betrayed myself and the image I wanted to create and maintain. So I started to grow out my hair.

On the flip side, long hair represented beautiful, grace, sexy; a type of femininity I didn't believe I possessed. I wasn't soft, supple, or sensuous. While I longed to be that kind of beautiful woman, it would have been a misrepresentation of who I feel I truly am. I've never been the kind of woman men dream about, the kind that begs for an audible "wow." I never believe men when they tell me that because I know the truth, at home I sit in my pajamas playing video games while eating a bag of chips. I burp, scratch, and sometimes even poop (face it, guys, it's illogical for women not to). There is no glamor when it comes to me.

You may be thinking I grew my hair out as a sign of submissiveness, that I believe long hair is synonymous with weak women, which simply isn't true. The beauty I feel long hair represents is another type of beauty, one that lies in the comfortableness of ones self, the kind you can only acknowledge if you love yourself. After my heartbreak I longed more than ever to be beautiful, especially because I felt so ugly from the inside out. Letting my hair grow was for my own personal encouragement, in a way a fresh start.

And it grew. And grew. Shortly after my twenty-third birthday I could no longer stand taking care of it and chopped it all off. Again, care was a large part of my decision, but the other part was that I finally felt I was back on the path of who I used to be and who I wanted to be. People have openly stated disappointment at my recent hair development, which is fine. It's nice to know they think I'm deserving of the long hair image, but cutting off my hair was for me. While they don't see it this way, it was a public announcement that I'm confident in my recovery from abuse and a shattered self image.

Thus, I'm growin gmy hair out again, because I've finally accepted that I can be beautiful and a strong woman.