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What It's Like to Chop Your Hair Off

What It's Like to Chop Your Hair Off

Since I've been sharing pictures of my outfits—and by extension, myself—on SparkLife for the past few months, y'all probably know that my hairstyle of choice is a perky pixie cut (which occasionally veers into Lady Pete Wentz territory, depending on how long it's been since I had a trim). But what you maybe didn't know is that, for the first 27 years of my life, getting a super-short haircut was one of the things I was most afraid of in the entire world!

Seriously, it was right up there on the list with "parking garage rapists," "zombie hot dogs," and "clothing made entirely of spiders."

And so, I had always had long hair. I ranged from all-one-length hippie hair, to long layers, to a Zooey Deschanel-style sixties cut with long, blunt bangs. The one time I got brave enough to cut it back to shoulder length, I spent the next year desperately trying to grow it back.But after all those years of long, flowing locks that required constant attention and thrice-daily brushings to look good, something happened.

And by "something," I mean Rosemary's Baby was on TV, and I was watching it, and nevermind the satanic sex rituals and raw-meat-eating and demon fetuses, all I could think about was how ridiculously cute Mia Farrow's hair looked. And once I'd noticed it there, I started seeing adorable pixie cuts everywhere. On Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan, on devil-may-care hipster girls riding bicycles in the East Village, even on Emma Watson! And if Hermione Granger could do it... well, maybe I could, too?

...And two schizophrenic months of asking everyone I knew whether or not I should get a haircut later, I walked into my favorite Brooklyn salon, asked for the guy named Christopher who'd been trimming my bangs (and not much else) for the past three years, and told him:

"I want you to cut it off. ALL OF IT."

I was pretty sure I'd made the right choice when Christopher didn't argue, or try to talk me out of it, or tell me that I was out of my mind and he would have no part of this catastrophic madness.

...But that does not mean that it wasn't terrifying to watch him part my hair into three ponytails, secure them with elastic, and liberate twenty inches of hair from my head. Twenty inches! That's practically the length of a newborn infant!

I'd decided to donate my ponytail to Locks of Love, so the major chop came first. But after I'd been shampooed and returned to the chair, and Christopher started really cutting, I couldn't believe how much hair was falling away with each snip. Suddenly, there was a cool breeze on my neck and my earlobes were out in the open, and there was a cocker-spaniel-sized pile of trimmings on the floor, and I was covered with anxiety sweat and nervously saying, "Are you sure you're not making me bald back there?"

Until he made the last cut, whipped the chair around, and presented me with my short-haired self... and let's just say that the anxiety sweat evaporated in one fell swoop. Because the girl in the mirror was unrecognizably fabulous—confident and gamine and effortlessly sophisticated, with huge green eyes and a neck a mile long.

Christopher appeared over my shoulder, grinned like a maniac, and confirmed everything I'd just been thinking: "GIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL. I loved the long hair, but do you realize how HOT this is?!"

Going from having hair to, y'know, not having hair, is one of the world's most liberating experiences. There are no obnoxious tangles or icky neck-sweat, showers take about five seconds, and you discover the beautiful freedom of stepping out of the house on a windy day and not worrying for even one second about your hair getting stuck in your lip gloss. And despite the persistent myth that guys don't like girls with short hair, I've never been complimented (or hit on) so much in my life. (Although one guy's pickup line of choice was: "You might have that haircut, but you're not a lesbian. I CAN TELL!")

I also discovered that short hair is surprisingly versatile. You can dress it up with headbands and barrettes; you can muss it up with paste; you can comb it into a sleek, head-hugging coif, or spike it into a lady-faux-hawk. And without having to spend all that time washing and brushing and such, there's a lot more time to experiment and mess around.

So, have I convinced you to chop off all your hair yet? Considering it? Waffling? Well hey, to help you decide, here are the pros and cons of going super-short.

Pros: Short hair is easy to take care of, quick to style, and doesn't need daily washings. (It actually looks best when it's a little bit dirty.) Tangles are a thing of the past. You will never get your hair caught in a car door. People will believe that you are confident and brave by virtue of your haircut, and you will be favorably compared to other short-haired ladies like Emma Watson and Audrey Hepburn.

Cons: Short haircuts are not for the shy; if you chop, you've got to be ready to rock it with confidence and panache. It'll probably need to be styled to look its best, which means investing a little time/money in finding the products that work for you. And since short hair requires more maintenance, a regular trip to the salon every couple months is necessary to keep it in shape. (Also, growing out a short cut takes a long, loooong time and involves some awkward in-between stages. But hey, that's what headscarves and barrettes are for!)

Would you ever chop your hair off? Have you already?? (If so, we want to see pictures:!)

Related slideshow: Bad Prom Hair

Topics: Back to School, Beauty
Tags: hair, scary things, makeovers, back to school 2011, pixie cuts

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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