It all started with a pact between two girlfriends. Marion and I swore the next time we saw one another, we'd cut our hair short. I'd enjoyed long hair ever since I was a little girl. I didn't know why, but something about the idea of lengthy locks fluttering in the breeze made me feel pretty. This was never challenged until my aunt, who rocked a pixie for several years, imparted some wisdom from her husband: If a woman is truly beautiful, she doesn't need her hair to feel as such. I realized that, funnily enough, I did consider my hair as something that enhanced my appearance. The science geek in me knew I'd test this theory one day to see if I still felt beautiful without my hair.
I did. Something about having a sleek French bob made me feel more like myself. I was becoming more distant from my traditional upbringing and the idea that I had to look a certain way. Tattoos, piercings and hair dye were never allowed in my household, and I never challenged that because I wanted to look "acceptable." I didn't think that excluded short hair, but for some people, it did.
Many people liked my short hair. Some people said they missed my long hair. Either way, I was in France with my best friend, and I enjoyed playing around with my new look.
I'd been toying with the idea of a pixie cut for months, but I waited to see how I felt about having a bob before I tried it. When my bob started to graze my shoulders, I feared my impulsiveness would give way to comfort. So I went for it.
The author before and after her haircut.
I know what you're thinking: Here's the cliché college rebel who cuts off her hair and becomes a feminist. You're right. That's exactly what happened.
I wasn't planning on becoming a feminist, but after experiencing a pixie cut, I could no longer deny the discrimination women face.
Calling a pixie cut an "experience" may seem a bit strange. Yet challenging social conformity with my appearance led me to change how I saw the world. People talked about my hair (or lack of it). A lot.
Most of the direct comments I received were positive. Men and women alike marveled over my hair, my courage and how I "could pull it off." The intention was kind, but something about these reactions was off-putting. What made me brave about cutting my hair? How could I pull it off and other people couldn't? I didn't really understand why my haircut intrigued other people.
Then my little experiment blew up in my face. A friend asked if I would get kicked out of my sorority for my haircut. Guys would ask to see old photos of me and wince when they compared me to my former self. Its growth became another thing to check up on when I ran into people. Every time I visited my mom, she asked me if I was growing out my hair. My childhood friends discussed my sexuality behind my back, assuming I was a lesbian. There was a glimmer of confusion in the eyes of these critics. Their inability to understand why I would want to cut my hair, which they felt made me more attractive, was something I didn't understand.
I cut my hair to challenge notions of beauty, but it became so much more than that. Keeping it short became my small fight to who I was expected to be. After a lifetime of people pleasing, I found a separation between self-expectations from societal ones. No, I wasn't going to become a doctor. I wasn't going to feel I needed makeup to be attractive. And I certainly wasn't going to date a guy who offered to take me out once I grew out my hair (yes, someone actually said that to me.) I never identified as a conventionally attractive woman, and I was tired of trying. I would have laughed if someone warned me in advance, but the superficiality of these reactions is no joke.
It's been more than a year and people are still talking about it. It's disturbing how excited people are when they hear I'm growing out my hair. Now, I wear a bob knowing it'll displease some and appease others. Want to really know what kind of women can pull off short hair? Confident ones.
There is something magical about a woman with a pixie cut:Oone who knows that the world does not understand her and openly accepts this.