By Rhoda Yun
Just a few years ago, the thought of cutting a mere inch off of my hair would leave me feeling naked and unfamiliar with myself.
Now, my hair is short enough for me to go to a barber shop, and I have never felt more like myself.
Now, the problem is that I can’t stop cutting my hair. Bald would be the only way to go at this point, and I wouldn’t be opposed to it.
I don’t know when the obsession began for me. Maybe when I first watched the French film “Amélie,” and suddenly wanted to adopt the aloof-yet-innocent qualities of Amélie as my own. Or perhaps it was when I watched “Léon: The Professional,” and witnessed Natalie Portman embody the essence of a strong, independent woman at the ripe age of 11. Her haircut, the ultimate chic French bob, was the idealized version of a young woman who is both strong and feminine, and most importantly, free.
I saw in these women, and several other celebrities who would follow their footsteps, a newfound freedom that I longed to harness as my own. It seems that cutting hair, for many women, became the universal symbol of strength. It represents the strength to overcome societal standards of what it means to be a woman, which was and continues to be politically significant.
When I was young, my dad used to tell me that boys like girls with long hair. So for the longest time, I had long hair because as much as we hate to admit it to ourselves, a lot of our energy growing up is spent trying to impress others. The reality is that no one is more concerned about the way you look than yourself.
Letting go of what I thought I should look like allowed me to really explore what I actually wanted to look like, and who I really wanted to be. This realization instigated change in so many aspects of my life. In high school, I would often use my hair to hide my insecurities. Once I cut it off, I had nowhere to hide. It forced me to face my insecurities instead of pretending like I didn’t have any. Soon, I felt confident enough to wear less makeup, wear clothing that wasn’t designated for girls and I even stopped counting calories.
This isn’t to say that I stopped taking care of myself. I found myself doing things more because I wanted to, and not because I felt like I should just because other people were doing it. I went to the gym for my health, shopped for things that I really loved but other people may not and invested time and money into skin care and cooking good food. Believe it or not, food can be both healthy and delicious.
The greatest part of it all was that no one treated me any differently, and I noticed that I was receiving more compliments than ever before. People will recognize when you feel comfortable in your own skin. You will recognize when you feel comfortable in your own skin.
Something as simple yet daunting as cutting your hair can change how others see you, as well as how you see yourself. It’s not to say that the only way of declaring your freedom is cutting your hair, though. To each their own! But if you rely on your hair as your armor and your only source of beauty, I would highly recommend releasing yourself from those self-inflicted fears and do what scares you the most. In doing so, you just might find your freedom. If you can cut your hair, you can do anything.