Writer Liz Jones has a story in the Daily Mail in which she recounts her emotions surrounding the chopping-off of her waist-length hair. Jones calls her hair a "split-ended curtain behind which I could hide." She says "It was just a long, heavy, hairy version of a burka, out of which two big dark eyes would peep, nervously, at the world." At best, Jones was known as :"the girl with the long hair." At worst, she was called "the witch." Her husband hated her hair, telling her it felt like a horse's mane and made her look like "an old hag." She grew it longer just to spite him — and then she (thankfully!) divorced him. Then? Because she was "holding on" to her youth while "hurtling towards the age of 50," she got her hair cut.
For the first time ever, you could see my face, and my neck, and my back. I still refused to look at myself in the mirror, but I did let him show me the back of my head, which looked lovely, all swingy instead of lank, like the creature that climbs up out of the well in the Japanese horror movie The Ring. 'You look . . .' started Paul. 'Don't tell me I look younger,' I said. 'Yes, you do. You really, really do.'
So here's where I tell you about my own adventures in hair care. I had long hair for years. Long, curly, unruly, heavy and pretty effing damaged hair, to be honest. When you're black and people tell you you have "good" hair and you should "never cut it" you tend to listen to them, even if you suspect otherwise. But I hated the idea that "girls" were "supposed" to have long hair. I dreamed of having hair that didn't drip all over my clothes when wet, that didn't take 2+ hours to blow dry (and all day to air dry); that didn't always look like a shaggy dog. I wanted "grown-up," easy, "sophisticated" hair. I just didn't think I could have it. And then I saw a model with the hair I wanted. It was Noemie Lenoir. And then I saw actress Thandie Newton, with the hair I wanted. And I grew more and more convinced I could let go of the burden of long hair. I got a job at a publishing company where a magazine needed a candidate for a makeover, and that person had to agree to get a haircut. I volunteered, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's been almost 9 years since I've had long hair, and every now and then I'll see long locks and have a pang of yearning. But did chopping off my hair change my life? Definitely. As Ms. Jones writes, "Because I felt like a different person — not the one who never got a single date in high school, not the one whose husband cheated on her — I acted differently, too, chatting to people when normally I would have been too shy." For me, it was all part of becoming an adult, of going after what I wanted and letting go of some childhood baggage. Now when I see women with super long hair on the street, I just want to "liberate" them — using a sharp pair of scissors.