The Long and the Short of It

By: Connie Howath

I’m one blond pixie cut away from having dabbled in every hairstyle available to my fine, straight locks.

I’ve been permed, foiled, redheaded and ombred. I’ve been bobbed, fringed, curled and straightened. I’ve had a mane to my middle and blunt cut at my chin.

Though distinctive each time, these transformations have followed the same roller- coaster — years of growing tresses out, then one dramatic chop. From side-parted and sleek, to a banged Coco Chanel; from long romantic layers, to an angled bob.

And this winter: from ’70s mane, to wavy little bob.

This urge to purge is pretty easy to predict. I essentially let go. My blow dryer becomes dusty; my hair, a happy accident; its role in my life, an unavoidable nuisance. Zipping closed my coat evokes curses, combing out my bed-head requires a sit-down and showers become tiring micro-marathons.

Just before Christmas, when I felt that itch again, I just gave in. I informed the necessary parties, solicited some social media support and laid the golden clippers in Cash for Cuts stylist’s skillful hands.

The result: a shoulder-skimming long bob and a damn happy customer.
Had I had any regrets, they would have faded with the new year. With each new magazine cover, red carpet and celebrity unveiling, 2014 has declared the return of the bob and solidified the pixie’s staying power.

Short is undeniably in.

The courage to chop that has charmed celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Wiig, Taylor Swift, Julianne Hough and House of Cards’ Robin Wright and Kate Mara has made its way down to us common folk in the real world, too.

The number of my friends and colleagues who have shed their lengths feels unprecedented, with my hunt to speak to a few about their recent chop proven fruitful in minutes.

Julie Hansen, a graphic designer and mum of two, spent most of her life with short hair but grew it out in her late 30s and had kept it that way since. Now 47, Jodie has returned to her short roots, this time with an on-trend pixie.

Rather than the misplaced middle-aged fear that short hair is the proverbial throwing in of the style towel, Hansen smartly knew the trimmer cut would flatter her face while keeping her completely current.

“I felt like I needed a change, and part of me was thinking I’d be revisiting my youth,” she says of her new style. “I didn’t want to be one of the old ‘fuddy-duddy soccer moms.’ I wanted to be the cool, hip mom.”

Hansen couldn’t be happier with the prep time she’s shaved off in the morning, too, now that she’s ditched her round brush for an easy finger-styled routine.

Leslie Jones, a 48-year-old agency owner and admittedly my boss, also just had Cash for Cuts chop off her locks on the heels of a foray into long hair that didn’t quite feel right. Much as in Hansen’s case, the wash-and-wear convenience of her Claire Underwood do is enough to make the cut worth it to Jones, and the change has her “feeling young again.”

While she admits long hair has ultimately ruled the catwalk for decades, she says women can feel comfortable cutting their hair because real beauty has nothing to do with that norm.

“Being beautiful ultimately means being comfortable in your own skin,” says Gascoigne. “If your long hair is trapping you because you feel you ‘should’ have it, cut it off!”

Bianca Peterson, a 22-year-old local musician, recently left her long golden strands on the Cash for Cuts salon floor, now rocking a fashion-forward bowl cut with lots of dimension and light.

For Peterson, swapping long hair for a short cut can serve as a test of one’s self- confidence, as it requires letting go of many socially defined ideals about what makes a beautiful girl.

“Yes, traditional beauty is tied to long hair, but there’s more to people than their hair,” says Peterson. “I’m more conscious of the other things that make me feel beautiful. Chopping my locks isn’t going to make me feel any less of a woman.”

When Carole Rollins, a 28-year-old public relations student, had Cash for Cuts drastically cut her signature auburn hair to a chin-length bob, she was eager to leave behind the security blanket — and time-waster — that her long hair had become.

Although she agrees we’ve associated beauty with long hair for a long time, she points to the beginnings of a “short hair movement.”

“Cutting your hair short was often tied to letting yourself go,” she says. “But so many people are proving that beautiful and feminine have nothing to do with your haircut.”