My Love Affair with Short Hair

One of my favorite movies is the 1954 version of Sabrina. It’s a beautiful romance only enhanced by crisp black-and-white film and the charm of Audrey Hepburn. Her character, the fledgling Sabrina Fairchild, leaves Long Island to study cooking in Paris and comes back a glamorous woman. But what always bothered me about the movie is what signals the transition: Sabrina cuts off her flowing pony tail. (For the movie buffs, Audrey’s character does the same thing in Roman Holiday). I mean come on! As a high-schooler, I used to groan at the television as the short-haired, sophisticated Sabrina slowly appeared on screen. That’s the only difference?

I wouldn’t realize until I hit college that a haircut really can be life changing.

Before I hit college, the last haircut I had been subjected to was in second grade. I remember it clearly. Tears rolled down my face for the better part of a half hour as my relentless stylist yanked my hair with various combs and burned my neck with the curling iron. After that, I swore off cutting my hair, and for good reason: the pain wasn’t even worth it. Looking back at pictures of my as a little girl, my hair was always atrocious: rounded bobs and long bangs adorned my circular face and what little forehead I had. I must have never felt pretty, because judging by my pictures, I never was.  I decided to keep my scraggly long hair au naturel, thank you very much.

Then, at the age of 18, I moved from the rural Midwest to Boston to go to college and I felt myself transforming from country mouse to city mouse. Just like in all of the fairy tale-esque movies I never believed in, a fashionista took me under her wing and changed my life. She sat behind me in one of my classes and we ended up working together on a lot of projects. One day she looked lovingly at my long hair and mock turtleneck and said, “You have a lot of potential. Let me help you.” We tore up H&M and Anthropologie. The only thing left was my hair. “A bob,” she insisted. “You would look so ’20s hot!” I never did quite get what she ordered.

I set up an appointment at a cute little salon and went alone. I ended up chickening out and only getting about 3 inches taken off and a new side-swept part. It was a start, but my fashionista and I agreed that it wasn’t good enough.

Over spring break, I finally said “Screw it!” and took the plunge. Though my big city tastes were well-developed, I deigned to go to a beauty shop in my hometown for a $13 haircut. “Take it all,” I instructed my beautician. After making sure I really wanted to donate my hair to charity, she finally took it all off. For two days afterward, I was completely stunned without my hair. Then I was totally free.

I went back to Boston for the rest of the spring semester with a newfound positivity. It was just like in the movies: that cheapie haircut was more liberating than I ever imagined. Getting ready in the morning, working out, and about a hundred other things became much easier. Most importantly, for the first time in my life, I felt pretty.

So that’s my hair history. Now this is my call to my long-haired lady friends: don’t be afraid to chop off your tresses! For the longest time I viewed changing my style as a guaranteed failure. I never realized that I was actually holding myself back. Letting go of my hair completely changed the way I feel and act; I realize I can be bold and still come out ahead. In short, I found a whole new confidence that I wouldn’t give up for Rapunzel’s locks.

I finally understand how Sabrina Fairchild felt . . .

    Related TopicsBeauty Style Hair


    1. A says:

      I know exactly how you feel. I chopped off my long locks for a short layerd spikey boy cut type thing. At first it was awesome, then it was buyers remorse, now its settled down to a plateau of "yeah, that is indeed what I look like". I can finally say that short hair is part of my look now.

    2. Cait says:

      I loved reading this piece!!! I have had long hair FOREVER and have always wanted to get it cut off. I'm 20 now and going into my senior year so I'm thinking I might just go for it… hmmm…

    3. Shelby says:

      I love short hair, but it just doesn't work for me. I cut my hair boy-short my senior year. It was a beautiful, well-done haircut, but I'd never felt less attractive in my life. Most women can pull off a short haircut (and I am jealous!) but I am NEVER going that short again, haha.

    4. Emily says:

      I cut my hair off my freshman year of high school, I always felt prettiest right after I would get my hair cut. I've had everything from a bob to a pixie, now for the first time in eight years I'm growing my hair out again and I love it too. I don't think its the haircut I think its being comfortable in your own skin, and a lot of girls use long hair as a security blanket. When your hair is shorter you can't hide behind it. Oh and Sabrina is one of my favs too!

    5. Danielle says:

      I cut my hair for my soph year of high school like pixie style. It was the most liberated I have ever felt! I kept around that length all through high school and though many fellow classmates didn't understand why I kept it so short, I got so many compliments from teachers, and random strangers when I was out in town. Having short hair makes you stand out in a beautiful way! I have almost shoulder length hair now and thinking about going short again!

    6. […] Growing up, all the kids in my class had plenty of fodder to make fun of me. I was overweight, my hair was terrible, and — the nail in my social coffin to be sure — I always had ugly cell […]

    7. […] takes a strong and confident woman to chop off all her hair (I know because I’ve tried…and then cried in the seat the moment those scissors came […]

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