The Beauty of Cutting Off All My Hair

The Beauty of Cutting Off All My Hair

This essay is part of our “What Is A Woman?” series in tandem with our brand new podcast. This season, our community is exploring the question, “What is beauty?”

Photography by Chelsie Walter.

Confident and decisive are two words that I would definitely not use to describe myself. I’m infamous for dragging out decisions about everything from what I wear to the grocery store to what I should “do with my life.” I second guess everything.

But in the face of my usual method of agonizing over every decision, I decided to get my hair chopped to a pixie cut on a Sunday, and I got it done five days later. As I told my friends and family about it throughout the week, I got mixed reactions. Many were a little disbelieving. I could tell they were thinking either She won’t go through with it or Is she going through some kind of crisis?

I had just quit my job a few weeks prior to devote my full attention to Women of Cincy and transform it into a social enterprise. So there I am, 25 years old, and it says on paper that I’m the co-owner of a limited liability company. I’m writing contracts and keeping the books and debating huge ethical questions, and not a day goes by where I don’t stop and ask myself at least a few times, Am I really qualified to be doing this?

So my friends who wondered if I was going through a life crisis weren’t totally wrong to think so. I feel like I’m changing every month – hell, every week.

I’m owning bigger and bigger decisions; I’m embracing the leader in myself; I’m refusing to get stuck when things go wrong.

It’s exhilarating – and terrifying.

Back to my hair. It might seem silly to give so much weight to something so trivial, but man, did I feel emboldened by the decision I had made. In the days leading up to my appointment, I brought it up in every conversation. It wasn’t about the haircut, at all; it was the fact that I’d decided. No one could talk me out of my decision. I don’t remember the last time I felt so confident. I sat in that chair and everyone at the salon cheered and I looked – and felt – like someone new.

The next few days came and went, and I discovered I had no clue what to actually do with hair that was two inches long.

I was a little sad I hadn’t become Emma Watson overnight, and, not shockingly, I was the subject of well-meaning but stinging jokes such as Hey! Now you, your husband, and your son all have the same haircut! When people asked if I was happy with it, I’d say, “I’m glad I did it, but it’s not my forever cut.”

And I was glad – still am. I eventually figured out how hair products work, and I started having fun with big earrings and mascara. But what really stands out to me is that, through all of the cowlicks and terrifying bedhead and brother-in-law jokes, I never regretted my decision. I owned it, and still do.

I’m proud of this new side of myself that decided to do a thing and went with it.

Maybe it represents, in some way, the leap I took in becoming an entrepreneur – which still feels too big to really wrap my head around. Perhaps if I can own this little decision without fear, I can survive the daily unknowns that come with running a company.

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All of this in an attempt to answer the question, What is beauty? I can say with certainty that beauty is not about the perfect haircut. It’s not about playing up your eyes so that your haircut doesn’t look “too boyish.” (Another essay for another time.)

For me, beauty is a choice you make when you look at yourself, taking in all the fear and unknowns and good hair days and bad hair days, and seeing hard work and the hope of motherhood instead of a zit and saggy boobs.

And further, I think it’s a choice you have to learn to make for yourself, which in the end is what makes it beautiful.

Tune in to the first ever episode of our What Is A Woman? podcast, What Is Beauty?, launching February 9.

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