Am I Ugly?

We are surrounded in a sea of hair, like a never-ending mermaid parade. We associate long hair with youth and femininity. Historically these traits have defined style. Even today men are on the bandwagon with man buns popping up like prairie dogs. We watch movies and TV shows and see the love interest tuck a tendril of hair behind her ear before going in for the kiss of a lifetime. Social media has declared long hair the standard and the longer, shiner, softer, wavier, the better.

I too was among the crowd, growing my hair out until it hung around my head like a nappy willow tree. I never thought of a version of myself that didn’t include my long, thick, Greek hair. It was a staple of my heritage, a marker of a good catch. I spent the majority of my life being told that my hair was wonderful, amazing and that I should cherish it.

It wasn’t until I decided to cut it all off that I realized how much people cared about hair. The dead follicles that protect our heads from the elements essentially. People thought I was brave. This idea reminded me of a segment of Amy Shumer’s stand-up when she described people’s reaction to her posing naked on the cover of a magazine. That she was “brave” and “brave” meant insane for showing her not-up-to-par body. Was I being brave because I was now ugly?

I heard the fear in girl’s voices as they told me they could “never imagine” cutting their hair off; subconsciously twirling their hair when they spoke to me, making sure that my short hair wasn’t infectious. People thought I had gone through a breakup and needed a drastic change in my life. Something to really redefine who I was as a person. Cleanse the bad karma my hair had racked up over the years.

The truth was, I simply wanted to cut it. I was tired of having the weight of my hair on my shoulders, literally. I wanted a haircut; A larger one than normal. I wanted a change, I knew I could grow it out again so why not?There was nothing emotionally charged in my decision. I was not going through an existential crisis. I didn’t cut my hair for anyone. I didn’t cut my hair for anything. No protest, no reasoning.

It seemed I became less of a women in their eyes and for that, I was mad. My short hair made me gain a sense of self-confidence that I didn’t have before because in the past I was relying on my hair. It challenged what I thought was beautiful. It made me love other parts of myself that I hadn’t before.

On any given day in any given venue I am probably the only girl in the room with hair shorter than her ears. That does not make me a special brand of women, it just makes me a person who wanted to cut her hair and for that mentality I am grateful. It will grow back, and when it does I will probably cut it off again.