By Jessica and Trisha Brooksmith.
Hair can play a big part in our identities. I know that for me personally, if my hair isn’t red (or, on occasion, purple) I do not feel right. As I have gotten older, my naturally red hair had faded a bit and become kind of ashy. Somehow though, I just do not feel like myself unless the red is obvious. I used to feel silly about this until I saw an old episode of What Not To Wear, in which they did a makeover for a dance teacher who used to dance competitively. Throughout her career she dyes her hair a flaming bright red, and on the show they talked about it as her “trademark”. She expressed her vivid and unique personality in other ways too, however the curly red hair gave people an instant impression of her boldness at a glance. I completely related to this.
Hair cut and style, as much as color, can be a way of expressing yourself, and showcasing your creativity. It can also be a matter of practicality, such as getting your hair off your shoulders in the hot months, or sporting a braid because you need your hair away from your face at work. Unfortunately, society also puts pressure on people, especially women, to have a certain “acceptable” range of hairstyles. For example, having green hair might get you negative glares or judgements. Having short hair might be stereotyped as unfeminine or not ladylike. None of this is true of course, but we all know that the media makes money off of our negative self-esteem. You should have whatever hair pleases you.
A friend of mine recently went through a major hair transformation. Having had long locks all her life, my best friend Trisha made the bold decision to chop it into a short cut in one fell swoop. Because this is a decision that can be fraught with anxiety about what others might think, I decided to interview her about this decision and the experience. I hope that it might be helpful to others out there, considering a short hair cut and feeling a tad nervous, to read of someone else’s experience.
Me: When did you first think you wanted a pixie cut? Was there a specific image or person who inspired you?
Trisha: I don’t know if I can think of a specific time I decided I wanted to get a pixie. I think it happened over time. I would admire cute pixie haircuts on pinterest, but not give getting one myself much thought. Brooke Biette of [the blog] apriltwoeighty recently shaved her head, and it looked great! It made me think maybe I could make a big change too.
Me: What were your three biggest fears about cutting your hair so short?
Trisha: Well, for most of my life, the vast majority of compliments I would get about my physical appearance were about my hair. Most of the time it was about my hair color, but also about its length and body. I was afraid that by cutting it off it would make me less pretty. I was afraid that it would make me less feminine. And I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to “pull it off”.
Me: What were three things about a pixie that excited you?
Trisha: Once I had decided to get the cut, it was mostly to prove to myself that my hair did not define me. I was excited to shed my “security blanket” and find my beauty and femininity from within. I was excited for a big change, and excited to have a cut that was a style on its own (since my hair usually ended up in a ponytail.)
Me: What did you do to help yourself overcome your anxiety about the haircut?
Trisha: I read blog posts from people who had gotten pixie cuts. I searched online for pictures of regular people who had pixies, and I looked for pictures of cuts I thought would suit me. I had (many) great chats with [you], who kept reminding me that my hair was not my identity. I talked to Brooke, and asked her how she felt after shaving her head. Then I just told myself to get over myself. After all, it is just hair.
Me: How were you feeling during the cut, before it was finished?
Trisha: Making the appointment was actually the biggest hurdle for me. Once that was done, I actually felt a lot more calm. I had gone over this decision for so long, there was really nothing to think about when the cut was happening.
Me: Now that it is done, what do you love about it?
Trisha: I love that my hair has a style now! I love that I cut it even though I wasn’t sure it would look good. Since my hair is so thick, I have to take time to style it, and I like how it has inspired me to spend a bit more time on my appearance in general. Sometimes I actually think it makes me feel a bit MORE feminine!
Me: Are there any aspects of having short hair that you find challenging, or that will take some getting used to?
Trisha: It is a bit more work to style, but really not much (and I get a much bigger payoff) Since I have never had really short hair, learning to style it is taking some getting used to. I think the biggest challenge will be staying confident in knowing my real beauty and femininity comes from within. It can be hard to not let other people’s perceptions of how you should look get to you.
Me: What would you say to someone else who is thinking of going from long to short all at once?
Trisha: That’s a hard one. I think it’s a very personal decision. For me, it was better to jump right in and chop it all off all at once (plus I wanted to donate my hair). For others, it may be a better idea to go shorter gradually. Take some time to think about if you really want to cut your hair, and why. Hair does grow back, but if you are making a drastic change, it will take a long time to get your hair back to the length it was before. Try one of the virtual hairstylers online before you get your hair cut and find a cut similar to the one you want. It’s not perfect, but it can be nice to have somewhat of an idea of what it will look like before. Most importantly, remember your hair does not make you “you”.
Thanks Trisha for letting me share this interview with everyone!