I've Stopped Hiding Behind My Hair, But I Still Obsess Over Cutting It

I no longer let insecurity dictate the length of my hair the way it did when I worked in the fashion industry, but I can't help overthinking about lopping off a few inches.
Publish date:
February 28, 2013
long hair, haircuts, confidence

I was a 5’8, size-10/12 teenager, and when you live in Asia, those portions are gargantuan.

I started working as an intern in Singapore-based fashion magazines when I was 17. I recall a stylist coming to the office and commenting at how fat I’d become in the course of my internship. (I always remember people who call me fat.)

Almost 10 years later, and looking at other young people getting into that business now, I can confidently say that no teenager with body and self-esteem issues should ever be anywhere close to the fashion industry.

Singapore may be a cultural melting pot, but after all the traveling I’ve done, I can't help but feel that it's also one of the most racist places in the world; I was regularly made to feel like my skin color was hideous, and now, my body was becoming another thing to be ashamed of.

As I steamed clothes, or taped up the soles of shoes, or fetched coffee, skinny, blue-eyed models would come in for casting, undressing in front of me, their hair cascading down their backs.

For a long time, I believed that since I couldn’t be a model, I could at least have hair like theirs.

In retrospect, my thick, sloppy, hard-to-style hair, never did me any favors, other than give me a sense of security, albeit false. I wasn’t wearing a burqa, but my hair was more or less a veil.

In 2010, I started moving away from fashion. The magazine I worked at folded, and I distanced myself from the fashion crowd. I started being easier on myself when I stopped working with people who have an unspoken, never-ending who-ate-the-least-food contest.

And shortly after meeting the man I still call my boyfriend, after having hair down to my bum for a whole decade, I let my hairstylist BFF cut it all off. Well, not all off--shoulder-length.

I could actually blow-dry my hair in less than 15 minutes and I didn’t run out of shampoo every fortnight! My head felt lighter than it ever did, physically and mentally.

My hair has since grown several inches longer. I like that I can put it up in a ponytail when I’m downward dogging without it looking like a duck’s butt when it’s super short, but I’ve been told I look better with it shorter.

Still, I have issues about putting it up--someone once told me repeatedly that I shouldn’t, because my neck apparently looks like a tree trunk. (I have a feeling distancing myself from that person like I did with the fashion crowd will have a similar effect.)

Ultimately, I still obsess a bit when it comes to choosing a length. While I don't rely on long hair to provide confidence anymore, it can definitely still boost it; but it's also a pain in the butt to style, and I'm the laziest girl in Singapore. Shorter is easier and still totally cute, but I'm just not sure it's really "me."

What do you think I should do? Do you obsess about cutting your hair, too?