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.

Advertisements

life lately: the long and short of it

Greetings from the den of our new house! We’ve been here going on 3 weeks, and I am proud to say we are mostly unpacked. The lingering boxes are almost entirely books and things that go in the linen and hall closets, and we have grand plans to get some nice built in shelving up to hold all of that stuff. There’s still nothing hanging on the walls, either, but I’m pretty happy with our progress. Being surrounded by boxes really stresses me out, so I kind of go crazy to unpack as quickly as possible. I was lucky to have a weekend without the babies, so I got a lot done in that time.

Of course, the babies weren’t here because our AC broke when we moved in, despite having passed an inspection only a few weeks before. Three different people told us we needed a new unit, and worse still, we were told it would be weeks until they could install it. Going AC-free in the humid Arkansas summer, with two tiny tots, is not a good time. So the girls were sent off to Nonni and Poppi’s, which was nice and cool. The good news is, we finally had an AC guy come and look at it, who assured me that while most people want to sell new units, “most folks just need a $5 part.” He had it working in under an hour for $90, and gentle readers, I very nearly kissed him on the mouth. He was a humble fellow, though, so I refrained, because I didn’t want to give him a heart attack. He said it may run for years to come. (If you’re local and in need of an HVAC repair guy, let me know– I’d be happy to pass on the info of such an honest guy!)

Another update is that Baby Claire has still not had her shunt surgery. It got rescheduled thanks to a bronchial infection that made having surgery soon after too risky, and we are expecting to get it on the books soon. I will let you know!

I also realized that something big happened to me lately, and you may have noticed on Instagram, but I never wrote about it….

After over 3 years of dreaming, I CUT OFF ALL OF MY HAIR.

IMG_9982
The initial chop in December. The front was still long enough to tuck behind my ears.

Now, this actually happened back in December. After a few months with a bob, I decided to go all the way to pixie town. And ever since then, each appointment, I’ve gone a little shorter. Six months later, the verdict is: I love it. It feels very “me,” as if my hair somehow matches my sensibilities. Which, considering I have been described as “impish” by others, a hairdo most suited to some sort of sprite just seems to make sense.

Since there may be some of you out there waffling on a drastic external change, can I please be the one to say: GO FOR IT.

My thinking on taking a step I had been waffling on for years was partially influenced by my recent brush with death. I mean, once you’ve faced down mortality, something as insignificant as hair just seems like a blip, not even worth agonizing over. The worst that could happen wasn’t anything scary, it was just the possibility I might not like my hair for a while until it grew out.

At the girls' first birthday.
At the girls’ first birthday.

Of course, instead of hating it, I loved it. I strangely feel more feminine with short hair, perhaps because my face can stand out that much more without hair detracting from it. Now I’m very proudly #teampixie, and I have gathered a whole pin board of continued inspiration.

IMG_4328

If you’re thinking of going short, I think now is a great time. I called it when I first saw the trailer, but I think Carey Mulligan’s Gatsby bob is going to have lots of girls wanting to go short. A picture of her is already my most-repinned pin. And then you can declare the Lumineers’ “Flapper Girl” to be your summertime jam as you enjoy the feeling of cool breezes on your neck in the sweltering summertime heat:

Cut off all of your hair
Did you flinch, did you care
Did he look, did he stop and stare
At your brand new hair

better left to the pros

My hair BEFORE the incident.
My hair BEFORE the incident.

Some things, I like to say, are better left to the professionals.  Like teaching.  And doctoring.

And now, hair cutting.

I have a difficult time with getting my hair cut.  I’m pretty sure my mom trimmed my hair as a small kid, and the same lady cut my hair from the third grade until my wedding day.  I even drove home from college to have her cut m hair, because she was the only one who understood my cowlicks, my hair’s weird ways of refusing to hold both a curl and a straightening, my baby-fine texture, my scalp’s sensitivity.  She saw me through the great DIY highlighting disaster that left me with ORANGE HAIR.  We went through a lot together.

And then I moved 1000 miles away, where all our friends were also transplants, where I worked with a bunch of dudes.  How was I supposed to find a good stylist?  How would any stylist be as good as Joan?  So I went to MasterCuts and kept to simple styles.  And other women always seem shocked, but seriously, MasterCuts can give you long layers or a classic bob as well as anywhere, don’t hate.  But after a while with MasterCuts, I began to feel that trimming my hair would be easy enough for me to do myself.  Or better yet, since I can’t reach or see the back of my head very well, for Jon to do!  He can even cut a straight line better than I can!  So today we decided to try it… Continue reading “better left to the pros”