When I was younger, I had a lot of different hairstyles. I've already mentioned how much I changed my hair color when I was younger (TL;DR: I changed my hair color all the time), and that tendency toward hair change was also reflected in the length of my strands. It was only directly after college — after I painstakingly grew out a chin-length bob for what seemed like innumerable years — that I finally began to feel like I actually had "long" hair.
Before this, I had always claimed I wanted to "grow my hair out," but once my ends would reach past my shoulders, I would get an insatiable itch to chop it all off. I was always comforted by the fact that, luckily for me, my hair grows very quickly and strongly, which meant that even short haircuts I underwent on a whim lacked a certain frightening finality. However, finally, at age 21, I made it past the shoulders stage and in one year went from always having mid-length hair to having super-long hair.
Like most things that gradually change about one's physical appearance, it took a while for me to actually realize how long my hair had become. It took multiple photos where I could see my hair reaching almost to my waist — along with a few telltale zipper incidents — for me to finally note that my hair was actually, finally super-super long.
Our cultural fascination with long hair is well documented, and long hair has historically been held up in many instances to be symbolically reflective of youth, beauty, and fertility. Men are (completely reductively) said to "prefer" women with long hair, and even though multitudes of different female hairstyles have captivated the attention of the world in the past hundred years, long hair is still usually what adorns the Disney princesses and Victoria's Secret models, much to the well-reasoned chagrin of many. Simply put: Hair length is loaded, and long hair is a culturally imposed beauty norm that is inescapable for many women. I'm usually of the mindset that women should do whatever the hell they want with their appearance, but once my own hair got to "mermaid" length, the Disney princess comments I began to receive left me considering my appearance in a more uncomfortable way. There were also the weird judgmental comments: "Oh, don't let it get too long," "You're getting too old for such long hair," and other completely ridiculous commentary surrounding the dead cells hanging off of my head.
Yet, despite all of the opinions, I have to admit I loved my long hair with an unmistakable ferocity. So much so that when I ended up at the Sally Hershberger salon getting my hair colored platinum for the first time (by the lovely Will Francis), I was insistent that despite the havoc that the platinum process might wreak on my hair, I was not going to cut it any shorter. For almost a year, I tried to keep that promise. I used tons of smoothing, repairing, and strengthening products regularly, and I spoiled my processed hair like a pampered pet in order to keep the length as long as possible while also maintaining the white-blonde color. (Some of my favorite products from this time period include the Oribe Signature Moisturizing Masque, Shu Uemura Essence Absolue, and, recently, Ouai Repair Conditioner).
I wasn't even sure why I was so focused on keeping my hair so long. I liked the way it looked, but with the platinum color, the ends would often get frayed and thinned much quicker, despite my best efforts. This left me lamenting the fact that, in spite of how long my hair was, it wasn't full and luscious like it used to be before the platinum plunge. It was a shadow of its former self, even with all the time, love, and work I put into maintaining the length. However, these issues notwithstanding, I still maintained that I loved my long hair and would often decry those who suggested I should get a haircut (if that's not an internalized culturally imposed beauty norm, I don't know what is).
Finally, last month, something changed. I can't tell you exactly what the "eureka" moment was — maybe it was realizing that when I put my hair into long pigtail braids, the ends were mere tufts of split ends, or maybe it was seeing various celebrities continue to embrace the lob — but I finally snapped. I texted the lovely Halli Bivona, a hairstylist extraordinaire at John Barrett, and I asked her to cut all of my hair off. To her credit, she knows me, and initially balked at my suggestion of a mere four-inch chop. However, once I got into the salon, she took one look at my hair, spoke to me, and realized that I was serious about doing this.
"Actually," I said while sitting in the chair, "you can cut, like, six to seven inches off."
I was shocked to hear myself saying these hallowed words, but after six years of painstakingly maintaining very very long hair, I felt no fear. I wanted it gone. In less than an hour, my previously long hair was all over the salon floor, and I was left with a shoulder length asymmetrical lob, à la Chrissy Teigen, Khloe Kardashian, Rihanna, Jessica Alba, or any of the other multitudes of women that have rocked this look before I got up the courage to try it.
I was completely and totally thrilled, and in the days and weeks following the big chop, I have continued to be ecstatic about my decision. Don't get me wrong, I do sometimes stare at women with perfectly flowing locks with a slight twinge of envy, but the new advantages to my short hair have been countless and fascinating to explore. Now, I wash my hair in half the time, and I don't have to wash it as often, because all I have to do is throw in a texturizer and dry shampoo to do a messy rockstar look that would never have flown when my hair hit my waist. I'm also saving massively on repairing products, sticking mostly to simple coconut oil and a hydrating texturizing spray like Tigi Sugar Shock.
As for men's attraction to me and the other supposed cultural ramifications of shorter hair, maybe this is another awesome benefit of being older, but I really couldn't care less anymore. Everyone I care about knows how much I love this cut, so if they have a problem with it, they haven't brought it up to me. I love this length, and I plan on keeping it until I get another itch to do something different (which, who knows, could be in another six months — or another six years).