Three weeks ago, I gave myself a bob haircut. This action has led to one of the most freeing and eye-opening experiences of my life. Cutting my hair has given me a much-needed confidence boost and most importantly, a mindset change.
In the past, I would have shrugged at the idea that having a short haircut as a woman was a big and even revolutionary deal. I would have asked, "What's the problem with shaving your head or getting a bob? It's just hair, right?" And while I wouldn't have been wrong saying this, I wouldn't have been right either. Hair, like every other aspect of a woman's appearance, is scrutinized and judged, so there is an immense pressure to conform. There is a strong emphasis on having the long, straight hair that only a L'Oréal commercial model can obtain. After undergoing hours of styling, that is. This "one choice" option is not only toxic but also impossible to achieve for most women. Do you want to know another shocking revelation? Most women probably don't want to sport that look either. I know I don't.
For much of my life, I have had long hair. It's been such a consistent phenomenon that at one point, my hair reached the small of my back. I have never been one to style or take care of my hair but due to my indigenous blood, it has always been very thick and straight. Coming from a Hispanic background, this was always positively praised by the women in Sunday mass or my family. They'd say things like, "¡Esta niña si tiene buen pelo! (This girl has good hair!)" or, "!Que bello pelo mija, nunca te lo cortes! (What beautiful hair darling, never cut it)". I never understood what the big deal with my hair was because I found it annoying and uncomfortable. Whenever I put it into a ponytail, it gave me a headache. Nonetheless, I didn't dare change up my hairstyle because I thought it would make me look ugly and deprive me of the praises that helped boost my self-esteem. Like every other teenage girl who questions her appearance, I found value in the words that I received from others. Since my hair was always complimented on, I let it grow out.
It wasn't until I started caring about myself more and less about the opinions of others that I started taking ownership of my appearance. This included everything from the way I currently dress to how I style my hair. Three weeks ago, however, came the biggest challenge of all. Drum roll...to give myself a short haircut! I binge watched videos of women doing this and at 7:40 am exactly, the scissors snipped away the strands of hair that made my head feel heavy. The hairdresser fixed the jagged edges and with it, any doubts I ever had of cutting my hair that short. Finally, I understand why all the women in those YouTube videos look so satisfied after cutting off their hair! It truly is the best confidence booster you can get!
Three weeks have passed and I don't think I'll ever let my hair grow out ever again. It's just not me. Although I have received some critical compliments on my hair, that hasn't affected the positive feelings I have towards it. If anything, the sentences after the compliments are what have stayed with me. Many of the women and girls who have approached me now say something along the lines of, "I wish I could cut my hair like that but I'm too scared". And I understand. Because I too was once scared to take a risk and then end up regretting my decision. Even with this thought in mind, I managed to build up the confidence to do it anyway. At the end of the day, it's just hair.