I’ve learned, over the course of my life, that most people love getting a haircut. My friends speak of enjoying the scalp massage and loving the feeling of shedding layers of old hair and split ends. They say there’s something about the feeling of being pampered at the salon, of having the stylist work their magic on a shaggy mane. Even the feeling of reinvention that comes with a haircut is, I find, usually lauded as liberating and wonderful. Hair becomes a new way in which for people (women especially, it seems) to express themselves. A lot of my friends and acquaintances are hair chameleons, changing their colours and styles more often than I change my jewlery.
I, however, am far from a lover of haircuts. In fact, the very mention of a haircut strikes fear in my heart. While this all sounds very melodramatic for something as simple as a little snip-snip to my long dark hair, I’m not exagerrating. The day leading up to a haircut inevitably brings nervous giggles to my lips and constricts my insides in that telltale anxious manner. When I get to the salon, I always try to be brave- to tell the stylist exactly what I want, to go for something a little new to spice up my look.
I’ve had the same hairstyle since I was 14. That’s 7 years of very-long-very-dark-brown hairstyling. No bangs, nothing too crazy- a few layers here, a little thinning of the masses of fine dark hair there, but no real “style” per-se. I have somewhat of a complex about my hair- if it gets what to me is “short”, I tend to project the negative feelings about my hair onto my body. I’m not really sure why, but my body image is extremely linked to what I feel is one of my most prominent features- my hair. For whatever reason, how I feel about my hair is one of the things I’ve had the most trouble getting over. From how it feels to how it looks to how it smells, my hair feels as much a part of me as my personality- it sounds incredibly weird and shallow, but who am I to decide what affects me?
For a little while I’ve been toying with the idea of getting bangs. So yesterday I decided that it was time- that I could no longer let my trepidation hold me back from any decisions, including making a change to what I consider my central physical characteristic. So I sat back in the chair and watched the tendrils fall away from my face, feeling panic and nausea rise up inside of me but trying to maintain my calm. Did I cry? Yes, I did. And I felt terribly embarrassed about it, and even thought about writing the stylist a note of apology. However, it was once I got upset that I was able to work with the hairdresser to really get the bangs I wanted, and now I’m feeling quite a bit better about them. I still have to get used to seeing myself in the mirror, and I hope the smell of salon-shampoo dissipates after a few more washes, but overall I’m a lot more confident than I thought I might be.
I initially thought it was silly to write a whole post about my hair, but then I decided that it was important for me to think about how still sometimes I let my perceptions the importance of physical appearance dictate my actions. The fear of looking differently was stopping me from doing something that in a very small way kept me tied to my “old self”. While I might just grow out my bangs and go back to my tried-and-true hairstyle, and I still don’t love the salon, things like getting my haircut are a big deal for me in terms of learning to push past fears and anxieties. Because it really IS insignificant to most- but it’s a huge step for me. I think it’s important that I keep challenging myself and my previous beliefs even as far into recovery as I am, and this silly haircut represents that. Even writing this post is representative of me pushing myself to do things that seem silly. So I’ll take my bangs out into the world and keep challenging my assumptions.