Two months ago, I decided to cut my hair on a whim — all two feet of it. Although I had a short bob when I started working at Cosmo about five years ago, over the years I let it grow, mostly out of sheer laziness. I barely even trimmed it! But recently, I was curled up at home with my husband watching Billions and became intrigued by the look of the character Taylor, played by Asia Kate Dillon.
Yes, I know I look nothing like them. They’re white with a narrow face; I’m Japanese with a round face. A shaved-head style was bound to look different on them than on me.
Still, I was hooked on cutting my hair ultra-short. With my husband’s encouragement, I did some quick research online and settled on the current haircut of ’90s supermodel Jenny Shimizu. She’s Japanese with short hair, and although she doesn’t have the same face shape as I do, I thought a similar chop could work on me.
I made an appointment for the following day at the tiny, two-chair joint across the street from my apartment. It’s where Rachel, my favorite hairstylist in NYC, works. She doesn’t have a website or anything — if you want a haircut, you need to know her and text her. Sorry.
I’m not much of a second-guesser, so I felt excited and ready when I walked in. With very little fanfare, Rachel cut off my ponytail. When I held the heavy log of hair, I felt an instant rush of happiness, hardly able to believe I had been carrying around that thing on my head for years. Rachel continued to snip away, refining the look as only she can, and after an hour and a half, voilà! I emerged a new woman.
My family and coworkers were shocked. Many of them told me that lots of women take a decision like this more seriously and cut their hair in stages: first a lob, then a bob, and so on. It didn’t occur to me to do that — when I was ready for my hair to be gone, I had to hold myself back from shaving it myself. (I also got married at City Hall on short notice, so maybe I’m just impulsive by nature.) Plus, cutting my hair all at once allowed me to donate the ponytail to Locks of Love. And if I don’t need it, someone else should have it.
I love my new crop for a bunch of reasons. On a purely practical level, there’s no more curtain of hair to hide behind or bun readjustment. Hair elastics are no longer a constant companion/bracelet. My gray hairs also poke out now, because they don’t have layers to hide under. I wanted a low-maintenance style so I’m going to let the grays ride.
Changing my appearance so drastically has also forced me to look at my face in a whole new way. This mug feels really exposed, but it also means I can have a lot more fun with makeup. My buddy, Katie Jane Hughes, does a great job experimenting with makeup, and these days I feel compelled to have her help me vary my signature black cateye; I want to try a glossy lid and different eye shadows. I also see the rest of my body differently. With my shoulders exposed, I feel more obligated to have good posture. It’s always good to stand up straight, but if you’re tall like I am (I’m 5-foot-10), looking down all the time and being hunched over isn’t a good look.
Even my apartment has benefited. My long, wiry hair used to create a nest in my apartment and shower drain — gross, but true. My husband would often comment that he had no idea how there still could be hair on my head when so much of it was on the floor. Suffice it to say my Roomba is my friend again.
On a deeper level, I feel more androgynous, which I like, because girly-girl has never been my thing. Plus, beauty standards are changing these days, and although the definition of what’s considered “womanly” has always meant many things, mainstream culture is moving toward a better understanding of gender complexity beyond the standard man/woman dichotomy.
So if you’re thinking of submitting to the scissors, go for it. After all, life is about making a decision and following through with it. Don’t overthink it. At the end of the day a haircut affects only one person — you.