Illusion of liberation

Illusion of liberation
Miami, September 2015

Miami, September 2015

I’ve had long hair for as long as I can remember. By ‘long’, I mean at least down to my décolletage, and in the last five years or so I had managed to grow it almost down to my waist. The reason I kept my hair long was to try and minimize my frame, which is bigger and more top-heavy than the average Asian woman’s, so I figured that the bigger my hair looked, the smaller i.e. skinnier my body would appear.

And then for some strange reason, I was gripped by the sudden urge to try having short hair again. I say “again” because I’m sure I must have had short hair at some point in my life, probably when I was very young and it was decided for me that short hair made my already round face even rounder. Nevertheless, I decided some time last year that I would like to try it again; after all, terms like ‘long bob’, or ‘lob’, were coined to bridge the gap that makes all the difference between a regrettable bob and safe-length hair.

But as always, I was crippled by the fear of ending up with a short haircut I might regret and have to spend years growing it back out. So when I went to my usual salon on Christmas Eve, it was with the intent of just trimming my split ends. However, as I sat idle in the hairstylist’s chair and allowed my mind to wander freely, I found myself dwelling on a couple of things that had been distracting me of late, and before I knew it, I was so agitated that when my hairstylist finally came over to tend to me, I told her to chop it all off.

My birthday lunch with Yiu Lin, December 2015

My birthday lunch with Yiu Lin, December 2015

I once read somewhere that getting a drastic haircut is like going bungee-jumping: the first leap is always the most terrifying, but when you realize it’s not so bad, it’s easy to get addicted to it. That was definitely how it worked for me with bungee-jumping, and I was surprised to discover that cutting my hair kind of had the same effect. I was positively rocking back and forth in my seat before my hairstylist made the first snip, but soon after that I was trying to convince her to keep cutting, until she actually had to tell me that she would only cut my hair until it hung a little past my collarbone, in case I found it too short later.

8 inches off

8 inches off

In the immediate aftermath of taking those eight inches off, I felt impossibly light; it was literally as if a weight had been taken off my shoulders, and it didn’t hurt that people around me kept telling me how much younger and happier I looked. Buoyed by this feedback and the illusion of liberation the short hair had left me with, I went back last Sunday to cut it even shorter, and now my hair rests just on my collarbone. It’s true that the absence of hair covering my shoulders makes me look even broader than usual, but for now I’m too busy trying to make sure my hair doesn’t flip outwards like most bobs do, to worry too much about trying to look thinner.

In the short term, I’m happy to maintain my hair at this length, especially if I can lose weight again (even though my thrice-weekly workouts are making that damned near impossible). And while I have a sneaking suspicion that before long I’ll end up missing my long hair, it’s a nice change not to have to watch my hair falling out before my very eyes.

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