“Make me pretty.”
This plea, along with a sigh of relief, is what comes out of my mouth each time I walk into my hair stylist’s salon.
I tend to walk in with dirty hair thrown into a knot, desperate for a re-fresh. And Brandy always works magic – I leave feeling like a new person.
There is a very real bond between a stylist and her clients. I never really got that before Brandy – I was happy to pay $18 for a haircut at the Aveda school. They usually did a fine job.
Until one day, they didn’t.
It was May of 2016, I’d just gotten a new job, and summer was approaching. I wanted a fun, new do. I scheduled an appointment, showed the girl some photos, and eagerly awaited.
I’m not sure where the lines in communication got crossed, but when I looked in the mirror at what was Lord Farquaad-esqe hair, (see below), I could feel my eyes begin to swell.
I held it together long enough to pay and get to my car. I then immediately FaceTimed my mom and…the floodgates opened.
Typically when I go to my mom with disappointment in a haircut, she responds with a reality check: “it’s just hair, Tori.” And I get over it.
But this particular haircut-gone-wrong, as she saw me sobbing because I was about to start a new corporate job and I looked like an 8-year-old, she knew I was not mentally stable enough for a reality check, and responded instead with sympathy.
“I’m sorry, sweetie. I know how important hair is when you’re in your twenties.”
I continued to sob, for the remainder of that very uncomfortable FaceTime conversation, and sporadically for the next couple of weeks. It felt, at the time, like the worst thing that’d ever happened to me.
Mom should’ve given me the reality check.
Now, let me be clear – the haircut was TERRIBLE. And when, for the following 3 months that I wore it in a ponytail every day, someone would say, “I’m sure it’s not that bad!” I would reply, “I appreciate you trying to make me feel better, but I swear to you, it is objectively atrocious.”
And truly, it was.
There’s no denying we live in a world where too much of our self-esteem is wrapped up in our outward appearance. And as my friend Kayla’s Nana says, “you can have the sharpest outfit, flawless makeup, and be in the best shape of your life; but if your hair looks like crap, you look like crap.” Ouch. But true. So of course a crappy haircut made me feel…well, crappy.
But dammit Tori. It’s just hair.
When my locks had finally grown enough to have someone attempt to give me a decent hairstyle again, a generous friend booked an appointment for me with her beloved stylist – and that’s how I met Brandy.
It’d been about 3 months since ‘The Incident.’ I walked into Brandy’s salon timidly begging, “please help.”
She had a warm and comforting presence, and although I cringed as I watched her take scissors to the monstrosity on my head, I knew I was in good hands. Literally.
45 minutes later, my hair was still short AF, but it had shape and style to it, and I DIDN’T LOOK LIKE AN 8-YEAR-OLD. I put all of my trust in Brandy and vowed to myself I would NEVER CUT MY HAIR again, aside from the necessary trims.
For two years I’ve been visiting her promptly every 8-10 weeks for a clean up, and have watched my hair grow beautifully long again. “Just a trim, let’s keep it growing!” is what I would say after my opener, “make me pretty.” I had no desire to ever cut more than a trim. I would never put myself through that again.
Dammit Tori. IT’S JUST HAIR.
About 6 weeks ago, upon browsing the interwebs for a new bra, I came across a redhead with perfectly undone short curls and I stopped dead in my tracks.
“I want to cut my hair.”
What? Who the hell was that? Where did that voice come from?
My right thumb and left index finger took over and before I knew what was happening, I had 4 screenshots of this girl’s hair at all angles. I texted Brandy.
“Please ignore the fact that she’s modeling a bra, but what do you think of this cut for me?”
“I love it!”
I was sold, and booked her next available appointment – which wasn’t for 6 weeks.
During that time I went back and fourth with myself to a painful extent.
I’ll just get it trimmed. I’ve been working on growing it for so long, it’s come so far, how could I consider cutting it?
But that cut is SO CUTE, and I’m way too lazy to even do my hair when it’s this long. It’s in a top knot literally every day.
But if I cut it, I won’t have the top knot. And what if I don’t like the cut, and we have a repeat of Lord Farquaad? I might literally die.
DAMMIT TORI, IT’S JUST HAIR.
I walked into Brandy’s salon this week on Tuesday afternoon, still undecided on what to do. I somehow knew I was going to go through with the cut, but I felt a pang of nerves each time I really considered it.
I sat in the chair, pulled up the screenshots, apologized again for the girl being in a bra, and handed Brandy my phone.
“I think I wanna do it.”
Being the gem she is, Brandy ran her fingers through my long locks and asked, “are you sure? It’ll be so cute but I know how long it’s taken you to get here.”
I was still nervous. Maybe I shouldn’t go through with it, no one is making me.
TORI IT IS LITERALLY JUST HAIR.
“I’m so appreciative of you asking – but let’s do it.”
We chatted, she chopped.
My stomach lurched a few times.
The end result? 5ish less inches of hair and a fresh, fun, flattering new do.
It’s the epitome of easy and effortless. And I love it.
But now you’re probably like, “okay, so…really what is the point here? Are trying to get me to stop worrying about things like how long my hair is, because after all, it will grow? And I should focus on more important things?”
“But…don’t you kind of defeat your entire argument by saying you love your new haircut? And that if you didn’t like it, if it was Lord Farquaad all over again, you’d still be happy with it and choose not to to worry about it?
And by writing an entire post about hair, aren’t you contracting the whole ‘it’s just hair’ thing???”
The haircut is cute, yes, and I love it. But here’s the thing.
I don’t necessarily love it because of how it actually looks.
I do miss my long hair. This cut is cute and fun, but I don’t feel completely confident in it. And there’s absolutely part of me that wishes I could have it back.
But I’m glad I did it. Because I’ve been far too hung up on my hair. My long locks became a security blanket that helped hide some other insecurities within me – very real insecurities that I’ve become aware of and working through over the past few months.
Chopping my hair off was, for me, part of this process – tossing aside one of my many security blankets. Looking my insecurities dead on and saying, “I acknowledge this, and I want to work on it.”
To try and channel myself at age 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, who always had short hair. I was a major tomboy and had the gnarliest knots, so short hair was the only way I could live. But I didn’t care about my hair, at all. I literally gave it no thought other than while washing and brushing it.
Like most of us, I was way less insecure as a child than I am as an adult.
Looking in the salon mirror Tuesday, I appreciated the cut for being cute and on-trend and fun. But I appreciated more that…I cared less about the result than I ever had before following a haircut.
And that felt really good.
I was anxious for my mom’s reaction, though. Not to hear what she thought about the cut, but because I knew she’d see how short it was and her first thought would be, “oh God, she’s going to cry.”
And I guarantee that, even 6 months ago, with the exact same haircut, she would’ve been right. But this time was different.
“Wow. Your hair is really short.”
“Yep! I like it.”
And I’m going to OWN IT, GORG. (Jonathan Van Ness reference, obvi.)
And on my less confident days, when I miss my Samson-esque security blanket? One reminder for myself:
Girl, it’s just hair.