Regular readers know that while keeping it surprisingly low maintenance, I still consider my hair an important part of who I am and of my beauty identity. It's long, curly(ish), and it's me. That simple. But other people have different viewpoints about the way we present ourselves and the reasons we make ourselves look a certain way. It's not always that simple. My friend Ari who writes a great perfume blog, Scents of Self, first talked about cutting her hair on Twitter. I was intrigued because the experience and the emotion behind it are far outside of my personal comfort zone. That's why I asked her to expand on it and tell us the story here, on my blog:
The problem was that it was a Sunday. Everything in Baltimore is closed on Sunday, even the hair salons.
I'd had a fight with my boyfriend the night before. He'd just started his master's degree in London, and I was missing him more than he was missing me. I got off the phone feeling miserable and aggressive. I can't remember the treacherous thought process that led me from "I don't need him!" to "AND I DON'T NEED THIS HAIR, EITHER!" All I know is that at the time, I was utterly convinced that a drastic hair change would make me feel better. But the hair salons in Baltimore are closed on Sunday.
That's how I ended up cutting it myself, with a pair of red scissors from the kitchen drawer. I wasn't even smart enough to put it in a ponytail first. As anyone could have predicted, the end result was a highly uneven haircut that was a good five inches shorter than I had intended. Horrified, I immediately sought out a professional hairstylist, who cut my hair ANOTHER FOUR INCHES SHORTER and gave me Justin Bieber bangs.
My hilariously stupid haircut didn't upset me so much as it frightened me. From the second that I emerged from my middle school ugly duckling phase, my survival strategy has been to make myself look as conventionally attractive as possible. I do this to distract people from how goddamn weird I really am. My hair was one of the things that kept me safe. No matter how different I was, at the end of the day I was still a size zero with long blonde hair and a D-cup. This allowed me to pass off my strangeness as endearingly quirky, even "adorkable" (cringe). I am well aware that this is not a privilege afforded to my less conventional-looking fellow nerds.
I've gradually lost those protections over the last two years. The blonde color was the first to go. The dye began burning my scalp. I gained 24 pounds in the process of recovering from my eating disorder (yet another attempt to suppress the weirdness). At 5'0", that's a quarter of my body weight. Now my last nod to conventional femininity, my long hair, is gone too. And I am scared. I feel like people can finally see me for what I really am, and I am so afraid to let them.
Well, I guess they had to find out sometime.
Arielle Weinberg is a senior at Johns Hopkins University. She has too many perfumes and too many Pokemon. She has not missed a Non-Blonde perfume review in over five years. You can read more on Scents Of Self.
Top photo: Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe. Other photos courtesy of Arielle Weinberg.