The first thing I unpacked from my L.L. Bean duffle bag after Thanksgiving break was a plastic bag containing two braids, perfectly measured at 8.5 inches.
As I was thinking for an opening sentence for this essay, I realized that the one you just read definitely sounds more creepy and fetish-like than it actually is. But I couldn’t resist. Let me explain by giving some background information: When I was in 5th grade, I went with my dad to his hairdresser (Why? I don’t know, separation anxiety, maybe). Plastered on cork boards and on the walls were photos of girls holding inches and inches of their beautiful locks. I was so confused — Why would they cut so much of their hair off? I clutched my own thick, copper hair in secure fists as I asked the lady at the receptionists desk. She explained to me how these girls chose to cut their hair to donate it in order to make wigs for those without hair like mine. A few months later, I cut my hair off for the first time.
So now that you have some context, you can probably assume why I had a plastic bag of hair in my duffle bag — I brought it back to school in order to mail it out to a donation foundation for the fifth time. The experience of donating your hair is something so much more rewarding and worthwhile than it may initially sound. This time around, I got to experience the same heartwarming feeling that I’d been exposed to four times prior; however, cutting my hair off came with so much more this time. If I’m being honest, the reasons were a lot more selfish than I’d care to admit.
When we think of our hair, we usually associate it with vanity.
Does my hair look good today?
I can’t wear hats, they make my hair look bad.
I hate going to class with bed-head.
Hair is so much more than just a beauty factor. Of course, I’m completely guilty of this. I’m always concerned with making sure my locks cascade my face like the perfect waterfall I want them to be. Even still, I like my hair to complement my demeanor and mood before I walk out the door in the morning. But hair is also so much more.
Do this: Take your hands and run them through your hair — whether you have an abundance of it or barely any at all — just feel the mass on your head. Now think: What has that hair been through with you? It sounds ridiculous and maybe it is, but in my experience, my hair held a lot of weight before I cut it off. I don’t just mean that it was literally heavy. I mean the emotional baggage it carried was something that sat on my shoulders for over 3 years. Woven within its blonde streaks and coppery undertones was the shards of two ended relationships, stresses upon stresses and the tiny shards of a million little anxieties that I’d endured.
And then we took shears to it.
The careful measurements and slow braiding before the scissors met my hair built up this feeling of excitement and anticipation I was so happy to feel. The only feeling that was better was the relief I felt after it was finally gone. A weight so heavy was lifted off my shoulders (both literally and metaphorically).This might all sound crazy to you and maybe it is. Maybe I’m just such an existential, angst-filled teenager that I feel the need to make prose out of something so simplistic as a haircut. But we’ll see. The next time you take a pair of scissors to your hair, let me know how it makes you feel.