What I Learned When I Cut Off All My Hair
Early this morning, when my husband forgot his insulin, I brought it to his office. I had a hat over my greasy hair because I'd just woken up, and he said playfully, "You should cut off your hair. You'd look so cute."
Then I was back home later this morning, working on yet another article, when suddenly I got up and went into the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror for a full minute, maybe longer, thinking, It's so annoying how it gets knotted every time I wear my coat. Which is all the time, because it's winter.
Dominique Browning wrote about her hair in The New York Times. She told the world that her hair is sexy. She's 55. It's gray. It's long. She feels the world's disapproving eye on her, even as it reaches out bony fingers to stroke a wafting strand.
Being a middle-aged woman with long hair is rebellious, she says. There's a rule: Women are supposed to cut their hair at a certain age. They're supposed to do it quietly, complacently and stylishly. And then their friends will all say, "Oh! You look lovely!" and exchange approving looks.
There's a rule for young women, too: We're not supposed to chop all our hair off. Which is why when stars like Emma Watson, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley do it, it's so newsworthy that nary a pop culture magazine misses the chance for a cover shot.
I went into the other room and got the scissors with the blue handles. I came back into the bathroom and before I had the chance to think, I cut off a huge chunk of my hair. In the front.
I kept cutting. I felt great. I was grinning at myself. The more I cut, the better I looked. The better I felt.
After a while, I took a break and washed it and dried it. The drying part took approximately a minute. My mom called. We talked about how our weeks were going. I mentioned that I was cutting my hair.
"Oh no," she said. "Professionally, I hope?"
"No, right now. While we're talking."
"Are you joking?"
"Nope. I'm definitely cutting it right now."
There was a bushy patch that the headset was obscuring.
"You know you have a job," she said, and then, "or several."
"Your scare tactics aren't working."
She burst out laughing. "Fine."
I've thought about cutting my hair for a while. But then I thought, There's the wedding. I can't have really short hair in the pictures. And then I thought, It's the winter. I'll be cold. And all along, I thought, I should really lose a little weight before I do it, because short hair looks better on skinny people.
Which is why I'm glad that I just did it. As soon as I finished, I ate a bunch of Fig Newmans (those things are really not at all healthy, even though they have "organic" written on the packaging), and I wondered why I hadn't done this sooner.
Later, I watched a documentary about New York City preschools, and all the teachers and administrators over 40 had short hair. All the young, stylish moms had long hair. When I went out to meet my husband (who was very impressed) and a friend for dinner, I noticed that I was the only young woman in sight with really short hair.
I laughed triumphantly to myself.
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