team pixie and back again: how cutting off all my hair changed my life, and why I grew it out anyway

One of the big things I didn’t know about childbirth was that it would make all my hair fall out. Already fine-of-locks, I didn’t have a lot to lose in the first place, but after giving birth to my twins, it was falling out in handfuls. I felt like I had four strands of hair left, and looked stringy and sad. Meanwhile, new hairs were sprouting, and tiny “baby hair” was poking out all along my hairline. Already inhabiting a completely new body, my hair’s shenanigans felt like adding insult to literal injury. Not to mention, it turns out babies really like yanking hair, and it’s annoying and painful.

Being a tired new mom is bad enough, but my hair falling out, too?!

Being a tired new mom is bad enough, but my hair falling out, too?!

I had always admired short hair on other women, but lacked the courage to take the plunge myself. However, after very nearly dying, I kind of gained some valuable perspective which was basically “get the heck over it, it’s just hair, you weirdo,” and I decided that the worst that could happen would be that I would hate it and would have to learn a valuable lesson about getting over myself while it grew out. Plus, this way, if I did grow it out, all the baby hairs could grow in along with it, and everything would look normal again. In terms of scariness, cutting all my hair off is really nothing compared to waking up in the ICU, so I felt brave enough to go for it.

I took a bunch of pictures of pretty pixies to my local hipster salon that does $20 haircuts. I told them all my hair was falling out and I was sick of babies pulling my hair and needed a change. They wisely didn’t let me go straight pixie all at once. I got the shortest bob I’d ever had, and headed out the door. This gave me a couple months to get used to seeing way more of my face and neck, so that when I still wanted to go shorter, the change was less of a shock. I went full pixie on my next visit.

The initial bob chop. I felt like Daisy Buchanan.

The initial bob chop. I felt like Daisy Buchanan.

The first pixie. I loved it.

The first pixie. I loved it.

It turns out all my worst fears were pointless as I LOVED my pixie. I had always been a little insecure about my chin and neck and worried I’d hate my face with no hair to hide behind, but I found instead that I focused on how much I like my eyes and less about how much I hate my jawline. I felt kind of badass. I felt liberated. I felt sexy. My husband thought I looked great.

Seriously can't overstate how much I loved that pixie.

Seriously can’t overstate how much I loved that pixie.

Women especially loved my pixie hair cut. Everywhere I went, some woman told me how much she loved my hair and how she wished she was brave enough to try it, or that her husband didn’t hate short hair, or that she didn’t have such thick/curly/whatever hair. Gay men loved it too.

Among straight men, I discovered, there is a sharp dividing line between those who prefer long hair and those who can appreciate a woman in a pixie cut. They either love it or they hate it. But there are PLENTY of men who are extremely enthusiastic about a woman rocking short hair.

Still, a year after I first went pixie, I decided to grow my hair back out. No matter how much I loved the look of my pixie, it was more high-maintenance than I’d like. I had to have monthly trims, or I hated the way it looked. It never looked good air-dried. I had to at least wet and blow-dry my pixie every morning, because my bed-head was INSANE. My next-day hair never looked quite right, despite it. When my hair is bob-length or longer, I can air dry on shower days and embrace my hair’s natural texture. I can shower every other day and use dry shampoo and a little wave reviving spray to have cute second-day hair. And I don’t need haircuts nearly as often. I wanted my “easy” hair back.

4 months of growth. It was just starting to come over my ears. At this point, I hated it.

4 months of growth. It was just starting to come over my ears. At this point, I hated it.

It took 9 months of awkward growing for me to feel like I had an actual “hairstyle” again. By that point, I felt like I had something you could actually call a bob, and I decided to get bangs, which I have loved. Perhaps emboldened by my original pixie plunge, I even trim my own bangs now. It’s now been a year since I decided to grow out my pixie, and now the only reason I’m still growing my hair is I’m too lazy to go in for a cut.

At 7 months, it no longer looked awkward.

At 7 months, it no longer looked awkward.

And I could use bobby pins and pretend I had a bob!

And I could use bobby pins and pretend I had a bob!

At 10 months I decided I looked like a 90s newscaster.

At 10 months I decided I looked like a 90s newscaster.

Even though I only kept my pixie cut for a year, I’m really glad I took the chance and went for it. My proud pixie self is still in there, and I still feel badass, liberated, and sexy, even if my hair is getting longer. I wouldn’t be surprised if I  go pixie again sometime in the future, but for now, I just add pins to my pixie love Pinterest board and tell myself we’ll meet again, someday.

And this is how I look now! Wavy bob with self-cut bangs!

And this is how I look now! Wavy bob with self-cut bangs!

Have you ever taken a big hair risk? Hair seems like such a small thing, but it has big power to shape how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us.

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13 thoughts on “team pixie and back again: how cutting off all my hair changed my life, and why I grew it out anyway

  1. I love your changing hair! My strongest memories of you are as a beautiful young girl with long hair. I certainly have had just about every hair colour and style that exists (including chemically straightened, permed, long, short and everywhere in between). While getting my PhD I cut off my long hair and buzz cut my hair super short when I got tired of trying to wash my hair in the bathtub of my 1910 penthouse apartment (which had no shower). I love how hair changes make me feel, and believe life truly is to short to have the same hair all the time. Congrats on discovering your “hair power”. No matter what you do, it’s just frosting on the beauty that’s always there :)

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  2. I love your pixie cut, I’m loving your wavy bob too! I had a pixie after my son was born, for exactly the same reasons! My hair was dropping out left right and centre. My hair is really thick and like you I just found the pixie too high maintenance, plus my husband hated it. My son is nearly five and my hair, until last week was long – really long to the bottom of my shoulder blades. I’ve just had it cut into a collar length graduated bob and it’s the best it’s looked for ages.
    But I’ve done interesting things with the colour, it’s been bright red, blue and green, pink and vivid orange. It’s currently it natural dark brown. But I’m sure if I get bored the colour or style or both will change again.

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  3. Cutting your hair short is so liberating. Every 8 years or so I go from long to short hair, ever since I was 11. One of those times its grew back quite curly. The last time I had it cut short it was because my eldest daughter used to twirl it round her fingers when she was a toddler. I’m on a long hair phase at the minute :-)

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  4. Your hair really, really took to the pixie cut nicely and it really complemented your bone structure, but I could completely understand getting tired of maintaining it.

    Growing up I always had shorter hair so when college came around I grew it out and it actually worked wonders for my hair (fine like yours but there’s a LOT of it and it’s quite curly). Now I definitely keep it longer and while it’s possible I may decide to chop it all off, I honestly prefer having the option to throw it in a bun or to unfurl it in all of its curly glory. The short cuts I would get would never end up being super practical for me to maintain in any case (especially when humidity would turn my hair into a trapezoid) so I think I’m pretty firmly on Team Long Hair for the foreseeable future.

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  5. it’s so interesting to read your thoughts on pixie cuts. i’ve had one for 1 1/2 years now, and it’s been the best thing ever for me. though getting my hair trimmed every 4-6 weeks is a pain, my daily hair routine is much faster than when i had long hair. i never thought i’d get so much attention from strangers when i cut my hair off. i get compliments all the time about my hair, mostly from men. i’ve never been an attention-seeking person so all this attention is new to me! i’m glad my husband likes me with short hair because i plan to keep my hair short indefinitely (though i do miss brushing my hair and putting it in a bun every so often). i’ll have to check out your pixie pinterest board…maybe i’ll vary up my hair a bit next time i get it trimmed!

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  6. Yup, ditto! I got a pixie cut in college and loved how it looked when it was washed, blow dried, and shellacked with goop. Omitting any of those steps would make my hair look so stupid. Second day bedhead hair was horrid! And I had to get it cut professionally all. of. the. time. Also, I bike a lot, and my hair always looked so stupid after being under a helmet for any length of time. Finally fed up with all of the work the short hair was, I began the long journey of growing it out, and HATED it for a long time. When I had a pixie cut, I couldn’t believe how fast my hair was growing, to constantly need a professional trim… but once I was trying to grow it out, my hair suddenly grew so slowly. I’ve had shoulder length hair for years and I love it – – low maintenance, I can cut it myself, and the ability to tie it up in a ponytail is awesome. I recently gave myself layered bangs that I can cut myself and that makes me feel so much more fashionable. Your current ‘do looks great! Love your blog, BTW, I’m not sure that I’ve ever left a comment before.

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    • Totally had the same feeling– when I was maintaining the pixie, it felt like my hair was growing so fast, but then the first four months of actually trying to grow my hair out were the longest months of my life. Total paradox. Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting!

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  7. Easy hair is a must with toddlers. I love your hair now, i always wish i took more pics of my hair so i could identify how i like it best! (I end up chopping off a few inches every six months ;) )

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  8. Love your hairstyle, been looking for the Like button near each of your portraits!)
    I have a long history with my hair, and the main line in it always’s been “i do not want to think about it”. So sometime near the end of the Univercity I had a thick long plait (is that a word?) of mousey-coloured hair. I never wore it any other way, because it was soo convenient that way. I’ve been known by it: “she’s that girl with long plait and bright hairpins!”. And then I realized I’d had enough. And i went and cut it all away, got myself something like Odrey Hepbern got in the Roman Holyday. I also coloured it, made myself into a red-headed girl. It’s changed everything! The way I feel, the way I dress, the way I hold myself and behave, the way people treat me… Also, I had lots of fun first couple of months after The Cut, because people were not recognising me at all :0)
    And I’ve been living with almost the same hairstyle these past 8 years and never regretted it for a second!
    Surely, it does need regual (approx each 6 weeks) visits to the hairdressers, but in between them, it does not even needs hairdryers or brushing. Love it)

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  9. I loved your pixie but you’re right about the short hair maintenance issue. When I was pregnant with Sim, I cut my hair into a bob because I thought it would be easier. I hadn’t considered the fact that I would really have to style my curls/waves in order for it to look decent and I couldn’t use my usual tricks (messy buns, braids, top knots) to hide the unwashed look. It was fun while it lasted but I am SO happy to have my long hair back. I only have to wash it once a week and can use all my usual tricks to keep it looking presentable between washes. Yay for hair adventures!

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  10. I chopped my hair into a pixie when I was 8 months pregnant with my first. I loved it – the more I slept on it, the better it looked. But the maintenance killed me.

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