I feel “liberated.”
That was my first thought after recently getting my hair cut short…really short, from my usual fairly long hair. And what a difference it made, not just to my looks but to the way I felt!
Strange but true, I felt like a big weight had been lifted off my chest, as if I was holding all my fears, my anxieties, my disappointments in my thick mane and with those tresses cut-away from my body, I could breathe easier, deeper. After the hair cut as I stepped out into the sun, running my fingers through my hair, touching my scalp, enjoying the sense of lightness, joy and freedom – a smile slowly formed on my lips as I walked along humming a happy tune, just feeling good about nothing and everything.
Till the world took over. “What have you done!” “Why did you cut them so short?” “What were you thinking?” “Please grow them back quickly!” And so on. The closer that these people were to me, the more direct and stronger the statements. “You looked so beautiful, now see what you’ve done!” “You got a boy cut!” In some cases words failed them and what stuck was plain and stark “Oh my God!” and not in a nice way.
Now I do understand that people may take some time to get used to something new. And I did have a whole new and very different look, so they had to re-adjust their lenses. And while I smiled through it all, taking in all the comments – good, bad or ugly, I started wondering about this whole ‘hair-discrimination’ the society has created. What I’ve realised is that it’s not just your looks that get altered with a drastic change in hair style but also people’s perceptions about you. A short pixie cut look is usually associated to the vamp in Bollywood movies. There’s always the main actress in a ‘good-goody’ role who has fair skin, wo is slender and tall (but not taller than the hero), wearing “acceptable” clothes that cover the “right” parts of her body and of course with dark, long flowing tresses. Then comes the vamp in her short tight clothes, chunky jewellery, flashy make-up, maybe even darker skin and sporting a super-short hair style!
So what does your hair say about you? Hair is so much more than a look. It says something about you – your style, your personality. And along with your change in hair style or hair cuts, people’s perceptions change too. Let’s look at some perceptions. Curly hair – people take you casually, straight hair – more business-like. Long hair is equated to beauty while short hair to confidence and panache. Hair is a reflection of who we are and what we want to show the world. Even if you look at hair colours – there is a wide range of perceptions associated there. Red-heads are considered fiery yet attention-seeking, blondes are perceived as sexy but less-intelligent, black and dark brown colour is for the professional woman who is also considered boring. And what about greys? Our society does not have much room for natural greys, specially on a woman. Perceived as old, slow and less attractive, a woman wanting to go grey naturally is automatically stopped by peer pressure and work and home environment. Personally have very different thoughts on this having personally gone grey for the last four years. I think going grey needs an added level of confidence, a strong belief in projecting your looks and the courage to stick to your guns even though the world will advise you otherwise. Going a step ahead I would say that hair is a reflection of what we are feeling in the present moment and what we would like to convey. It is like your identity – both in looks and feelings.
Does having short hair, blonde hair, grey hair change a person, who she is, what she believes in and what her values are? Suddenly from being seen as a warm, kind, approachable person, she is now being seen as a cold-hearted, competitive, unapproachable and selfish being. I wonder why everybody stops short at commenting on hair styles, why does nobody ask or care to know about the feelings behind it?
By showing up in the world exactly as we are, hair or no hair, we send a powerful message that we belong here and that we are also creating space and support for others to do the same. I love my new pixie hair cut in its natural grey and intend to keep it like this for a while, till I get bored, or feel like a change, or simply to support other women who have been wanting to go short but never found the courage! What’s next? How about going bald!
Follow me on @mehrooturel
Reena Gupta says
Hey just the free thoughts we were talking about the other day! I agree with you a lot and hats off to you for taking this plunge! Here’s to breaking stereotypes and ending all sorts of discrimination – hair discrimination! Who would have thought ????