When I first told my mother I was going to get a pixie cut, she begged me, "Please don't do it; you'll look like a boy." I wasn't surprised by her response because honestly, I was scared of the same thing.
I was scared that I would look like a boy when I didn't identify as one. I was scared that I wouldn't be considered feminine enough. I was scared that people wouldn't tell me I was pretty anymore. I was scared of not receiving the validation that I was desirable and therefore worthy. After all, what if I cut my hair and spend my precious college years, A.K.A "the peak of beauty and coolness," looking terrible?
When we think femininity, we imagine pink, dresses, make-up, and importantly, long, flowing hair. Such associations have been drilled into us through pictures of princesses and models with long luscious locks displayed on movie posters and billboards. So, short hair? Nope, not feminine.
Long hair was always my safe choice because I knew I looked good in it. I could hide my round cheeks and overly square jaw behind it, and I convinced myself that that long hair was my true, most attractive look.
You see, the root of my problem wasn't that I wouldn't look good with short hair, but that I would look bad in anything but long hair.
So did I choose long hair because I genuinely liked it or because I was socialized to find it feminine and attractive? Can we even separate ourselves from socialization? I decided to test that out by cutting my hair into a pixie cut not only because I wanted to see if I'd rock it, but also to see how I would respond to the discomfort of going against gender expectations.
Here are some practical and emotional lessons I learned during my pixie cut-getting experience.
What to Do at the Salon
1. Avoid saying the word "pixie cut" before you show your example pictures.
- This tip sounds strange since a pixie cut may be exactly what you want, but their idea of a pixie cut may be different than yours. By saying "pixie cut" before your explanation, you could trigger their picture of a conventional pixie cut which may not line-up with your specific demands. It's better if you say "short haircut" first, show your pictures, and then drop the pixie cut bomb.
2. Have suitable pictures.
- Most of us know to bring a picture of our desired haircut to the stylist, but we often choose photos that aren't suitable to us. Choose photos with models who have similar hair texture to yours. It would be difficult for someone with thick, strong hair texture, for example, to perfectly copy a model with thin hair.
3. Don't be afraid to interrupt your stylist during the process.
- I'm sure many of us have suffered terrible haircuts in silence out of politeness, but it is not rude if you simply ask the hairstylist to maybe not cut those bangs so short. If you're unsure about their work, ask them what they're doing and remind them of your wishes.
Ta da! You've Achieved Your Personal Style...Right?
So now that you've gotten your short haircut and defied gender expectations all in one day, you'd expect to feel liberated, right? Not all the time.
The first out of two times I cut my hair short, I hated it. Surprise! I had read all these articles that told me I would feel empowered by my short hair, but I only saw my once-hidden flaws glaring in the mirror.
The truth is, you may not like your haircut and that is completely okay.
So What Should I Do if I Don't Like My Cut?
The important thing now is being able to distinguish whether your discomfort comes from social pressure or simply because your haircut wasn't good. Willing to bet on the second choice, I cut my hair again two weeks later and came out of the salon with an undercut I absolutely loved.
If your short haircut was a disaster, then the last thing you're probably thinking is, 'Yes, let's just cut it even shorter." You'll probably want to play it safe and comfortable now by growing it out, but consider getting another haircut to fix it. Not only did I personally love my second haircut, my stylist also cut it in a way that will help grow my hair out more naturally.
College is not your "prettiest years," but rather a great time for style experimentation. I personally never would've considered rocking a pixie cut in high school due to peer pressure, but college has been an amazing time for me to really grow into myself and try new things. Hair should be a fun creative outlet, not a crutch. Regardless of whether the world thinks it suits you, the most important thing is that you love your hair. True validation and confidence comes from within yourself.
Is hair just hair to you? Or is your hair a crucial expression of your identity? Have you ever felt socially pressured to look a certain way? How do you feel about short haircuts?
Please let me know in the comments below!