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Cutting my hair with the fabric scissors

Last week I chopped seven inches off my hair. It took two snips of my largest fabric scissors.

But why?

Because, it’s just hair. 

Of course, I’m as self-conscious as any other woman in her mid twenties. I’m paranoid about weight, diet and remembering to do exercise just like anyone else.

From a financial perspective, my reasoning went like this… if I have £20, then I can pay for a haircut, which would make me look nicer? Or I can buy two books and spend a few hours curled up on the sofa reading. If you’re reading £20 and thinking ‘only £20’ you’re right. I’m definitely talking about the lower end of hair cut prices.

Most people I know routinely get their haircut. They use the same hairdresser, choose a similar style and pay the price. They’ve always done it, so they don’t take any time to ask why. A hair cut is a necessity. Isn’t it?

Choosing uglier hair is harder than booking an appointment. When a real hairdresser with talent cuts my hair, it looks wonderful. After all, I have a huge volume of long, thick, healthy hair.

But I want to own my choices – proactive choices based on my values and beliefs. I want to base my actions on thought.

Society’s expectations vs autonomous thinking

In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow, he describes this battle of balancing instinctual, inherited needs with the perceived expectations of society. In simpler terms, you need to work out how to be yourself whilst fitting in with society. Plus, try and be a positive contributor towards it.

All this requires, “a drastic change in attitude about what is important and what is not.”

To me, my haircut is of low importance. It has only a minor effect on my appearance. It’s true, I’m like anyone else who stares with envy at the photoshopped models. But once I get over the jealousy, I remember it’s chemicals and water-pollutants, hours of sitting in front of a mirror and some skill with a computer program. A haircut isn’t going to make me taller, thinner, prettier or happier.

Yet, I still fear being looked down upon, as if I am somehow uncouth. I have amazing hair. It’s the aspect of my appearance that instills open envy in others. In school I was told how wonderful it would look if I straightened it. I’ve been told to wear it down more often. I’ve been told to blow dry it. I’ve been told it’s amazing when curled. The possibilities of how amazing I could be if only I managed my hair better seem endless.

In the beginning

Not getting a professional haircut wasn’t the first step I’ve taken towards this neglect.

When I started buying conditioner, I bought it based on price per 100ml. Money was sacred.

It was quite a change from the luxurious conditioner that I grew up with – beautiful expensive bottles, decorated with exotic fruits and words like luscious and silky.

I love the smell. I love feeling how thick glossy and soft it makes my hair. I love long showers.

And then, I started reducing the conditioner I used. Nowadays I often don’t use it at all, despite washing my hair almost daily.

All small steps.

The hair cut

Whilst cutting my own hair might seem crazy, it wasn’t much of a risk. Before I cut it, it was twenty-six inches long. I took off 7 inches and what remains could be restyled and still considered long.

Building integrity

I’m grown-up and professional. Really. I’m sure that grown-up professional looking people don’t have hair chopped with fabric scissors.

At work, everyone else has beautiful, styled hair. In fact, so styled that I’m not sure what the natural hair colour is of almost half the women in the office. I see all this effort and yet, when I joke about my hair, I’m told that I’m not allowed to speak. That it’s unfair that I have such beautiful hair. Comments about split ends and thin hair follow.

I can tie my hair back and pretend, but I want to have integrity.

I don’t want to hide my choices, which is why I blog. Somehow it’s easier to speak through keyboard strokes. I’m giving you the choice of whether to react to my choices or not.

Back to the £20. I bought myself the Dalai Lama’s How to be compassionate – a handbook for creating inner peace and a happier world.

My word isn’t beauty; it’s kind. In the marathon of life, understanding kindness is going to make me happier than having prettier hair.

What do you do without thinking just because you’ve always done it?


3 Responses
  • clarepooley33
    Monday 30 March 2015

    Even though this post is really about personal choices, I’ll start with the hair bit. I have never considered my hair and what clothes I wear as being very important. I dislike going to the hairdressers and hate having to shop for clothes. I would much rather have books, like you. When I was young I had long hair that I wore loose or tied back depending on my mood or the weather (I hate hair blowing in my face). Now that I am middle-aged I have to consider my appearance more than I used to do. Very unfortunate! I am grey-haired, which is fine – I like it, but long loose grey hair wouldn’t look good on me. I have it cut very short now which I love – it doesn’t blow about in the wind, it dries in 5 minutes and I can forget about it most of the time. I do have to go to the hairdressers regularly as I am incapable of cutting it myself. I think this is a small sacrifice for 6 weeks of freedom from hair worries.
    I think we all fear being judged and this doesn’t change much as we get older. We have to be quite brave sometimes to stand by our decisions. However, if we know that these decisions have been made after some thought and we know that these decisions are the best for us we have to abide by them. We do not have to explain our actions to anyone unless what we do affects those people. It is sometimes very hard finding that our choice has disappointed someone close to us whose good opinion means a lot to us. However, this should have been considered before the decision is made.
    I agree; kindness and compassion are everything. They are the key to a contented life.

    • Kate Happenence
      Friday 3 April 2015

      I love that you wrote this line “We do not have to explain our actions to anyone unless what we do affects those people.” It’s really hard to remember that we don’t owe an explanation by default and that our choices are ours, not a matter of consensus.

      • clarepooley33
        Friday 3 April 2015

        Yes and yes! It is so hard to remember – we always want to explain or make excuses – and yes it is our choice and ours alone.