Graphic by Dakota Cox

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

Changing your hair to change your life

It’s unique like a snowflake and it fits like a glove, it’s more important than arriving on time, it’s the defining aspect of our image — it’s hair. Whether we love it or hate it, it’s ours, and we do our best to maintain it.

With the state of social media in 2020, an overwhelming degree of how we perceive each other has become smothered by appearance. With many of us lacking excess money to afford material possessions like designer clothes and expensive jewelry, hair is the aspect of our appearance where we have the most control.

In 2015, a “no hair, don’t care” campaign was launched, with young women shaving their heads to get in touch with their true identities. Breaking gender norms, these women are able to grow confidence as they discover their inner beauty and channel it to the surface.

Whether we do it to stick out or to fit in, by wearing our hair the way we do each day, we communicate to others a glimpse into the possibilities of what could be our lives. An ordinary haircut often insinuates a more serious approach towards life, while unusually long hair on a man communicates a more laid back approach and unusually short hair on a woman creates the perception of authority. No matter which walks of life we choose, each comes with its own expectations that will soon shape our behaviors, eventually our personalities, and oftentimes, our hair.

Synonymous with her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, Emma Watson famously cut off almost all of her hair as soon as the series wrapped. After spending a decade with the same style, she explained in a 2010 interview, she felt it was a necessary change to escape the character.

At certain times in our lives, we may find we’ve relinquished power to our hair, allowing it to influence our identities rather than the other way around. Whether it be a reluctance to give up the life we’ve grown so accustomed to, or perhaps fear of exploring the unknown that holds us back from moving forward, it is a certainty of life that we will encounter change. Even as we enter the later years of our lives, long after we’ve fallen into our respective routines, we will experience our first gray hairs or perhaps receding hairlines – and we are sure to feel betrayed by our bodies. Whether we’re ready or not, change is always on the way, and the best thing we can do is embrace it. Letting go of your old hair can be a therapeutic release, relieving weight from your shoulders with each severed follicle.

We love to play with it and we hate to part with it, but for some of us, the perceptions broadcast by our hairstyles don’t match the personalities that lie beneath. Especially now, in the midst of a pandemic as we find ourselves cut off from much of what we considered ordinary life, we should take the opportunity to step back and assess our core values. If for some reason we find ourselves in a place we no longer want to be, or where we feel we don’t belong, something as simple as a haircut can be the first step in a positive new direction.

As the late, great King of Pop Michael Jackson, put it in his song, “Man in the Mirror,” “if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” You are only truly at your best when you feel that way inside and reflect it outwardly. Only then, can you make a difference.

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