Back when I religiously watched America’s Next Top Model, I always liked to fantasize on how I would react if Tyra decided that I had to drastically cut my hair- and by “drastically” I mean anything over 3 inches. Would I sit in that chair while the scissor chopped away my hopes and dreams and cry as if my best friend just died? Yes, I fucking would.
I started my life off with straight, light brown hair. I still remember the time I was maybe 5 and my mom made me get a really short haircut. My country had really hot summers and I guess she wanted me to stay cool, or my other explanation, she wanted to ruin my happiness. I remember crying after the haircut and telling her I looked like a boy. In attempts to stop my crying, she let me wear my brother’s clothes that day because I loved them. It may have been the worst day of my dramatic life, turned into the best day of my dramatic life.
Years later, now at 22 years old it is dark brown, curly and like a terrible best friend I constantly try to make better. My obsession with all things hair started as a child when my dream career was to cut hair in a salon. My eyes lit up every time I looked through the windows of a salon and watched the women do their thing. I remember telling my dad this, although he tried to be supportive I could decipher the “Lord, please help my daughter develop real aspirations” look he made.
I grew up being an only girl, so everything I did with the hair on my own head and the one on my Barbie’s was strictly experimental and “trial and error-ish.” There was the time when I was 12 when my mom thought I had a severe dandruff problem, but it was just me using my brother’s hair gel (that I wasn’t allowed to use) and brushing my hair after it dried causing flakes. Then there was the time at 15 when I cut my own ends and the hair on my right side ended up shorter than the left. I thought it was edgy, whatever.
Like most girls, my hair is down when I’m out and in a bun the second my phone connects to my home wifi, and it looks its best right before I hop in the shower. I lose more bobby pins than I can count and at times, because the struggle is real- I use a rubber band (ouch) to put my hair up when I forget a scrunchie. Although I’ve tried to style my hair, I just don’t have the talent, no matter how easy the Youtube tutorials make it seem. I usually cant see when its windy because my hair likes to shield my eyes of the people I may walk into and at family gatherings, in comparison to my female cousins, I am usually the only one with curly hair- I know my mother hates it.
I’ve spent hours standing in the hair isles at stores trying to find the best things for “dry damaged hair.” I’ve had them all, leave-in hair treatment, conditioner, deep conditioner, dry shampoo, olive oil (a south-asian women’s holy grail), anything I’ve seen in commercials and then finally my “all-natural sulfate free” products that put huge dents in my wallet. Then being disappointed because the products I paid so much money for didn’t work overnight like I expected.
I’ve had my fair share of horrible a highlight job (twice), got too optimistic and cut my hair too short, completely damaged it by washing it twice a day and went almost 2 years without cutting it. my hair cuts only happened when I was in dire-need of one, as I grew older I developed a desire for really long hair like the women in my family and the girls on tumblr. This meant I had to go a very long period of not cutting my hair. It did grow really long but it was the most damaged my hair has ever been.
The longer it was, the thinner it got. You could see my ends crying for help- but I ignored all of this because I loved my long hair so much. I would just cover it up with great products that made my hair smell and look good- until I washed them out and stared in the steamy mirror after a shower. My attachment with my hair was similar to my attachment with people. No matter how bad they were getting for me, I still kept them. I tried to change them for the better and felt like I needed them in my life.
After the many “if you cut it, it will grow back healthier and thicker” talks I got from my friends, I finally decided to cut my ends. My friend went along with me because she knew I wouldn’t do it if she wasn’t there to force me. I sat in the chair and told the hair dresser I want only a few inches off, and showed her. She said I needed to cut way more off because of how damaged my ends were. From here on out, my friend did the talking and and assured me that she wouldn’t have the hair dresser cut off too much.
I just closed my eyes and kept telling myself, “It’ll grow back” repeatedly. The sound of those scissors was like the sound of a very painful song coming from your alarm at 5 am. After the cut, I kept needing my friend ‘s reassurance that my hair wasn’t “too short.” You would think I did one of those things where girls chop off their hair after a really bad break up.
I went home and showered and as I ran my fingers through my hair I could feel how much shorter it was. Although it was now healthier, I felt hideous with my new hair cut. The weeks that came were me straightening my hair every day because I hated how short it looked curly. I did not want to be seen with it. Then, to my surprise I started to like it and my dramatic “my life is over” attitude towards my hair was fading. I now laughed at how I reacted towards cutting my hair and letter go of years of damage. I became so confident of myself and didn’t need people’s reassurance as I once did.
Of course my long curly hair was a big part of who I was, but it wasn’t only who I was. This isn’t a piece of a magical journey where a girl cuts her hairs and all her problems are solved. Its more about me thinking I couldn’t live without something I needed to get rid of. I shouldn’t give something so small that much value and power over me. I know some of the things ive said here may seem out of this world to you and you may comment telling me how I lack a brain, but I don’t expect you to understand. This was, my attachment with my hair.