Today I was asked if I don’t miss my long hair. Well it’s been 5 years since I cut my hair really short and I have absolutely no regrets.
Will I go back to growing my hair?
Of course, I’ve given it some thought. But all the cons just overshadow the less than handful pros of having long hair. So the answer is clear, I won’t grow my hair long again.
And this is why.
My undesirable long hair woes…
All my life I had long hair. Complimented on my beautiful locks, that at some stage of my life was hanging until my buttocks. People had serious hair envy. But what people didn’t know was that maintaining those tresses was a mission and a half. As a child, washing and styling my hair was a painful ordeal. My mother didn’t believe in wash and go as my hair was extremely curly and would frizz easily. It took approximately two and a half hours to style my hair. Which comprised of washing, rolling my hair with curlers, setting it under a hooded hairdryer for at least an hour and a half and then blow drying it. So much heat, which often left me with a stiff neck and a red heat inflamed forehead.
My mother used to comb my hair; this daily routine gave me serious whiplash. I swear she enjoyed every moment of combing out those knots and seeing me suffer. Plaiting my hair as tight as possible which made blinking impossible. So having beautiful long hair was a process of enduring pain – like the saying goes “suffer for beauty”. Damn right I suffered.
I continued to have long hair in my 20’s and by then I could roll my own hair with curlers and blow dry it afterwards. This was another mission as washing and styling my hair took up most of my time on a Saturday afternoon. This was a serious workout on my arms and left me exhausted for hours. The thought of cutting my hair very short always crossed my mind. But growing up in a very traditional community that saw hair as your crown and glory, the stereotypes that was based on looks and that having beautiful hair was a form of femininity. With that in mind, there was always that underlying fear of the critics. The closest I came to cutting it short was cutting it in a bob. Even then people questioned me on why I went so short.
What’s more, long hair encompassed dealing with split ends, clogged shower drains, hair being stuck in zippers and being cautious not to get it tangled. I lost count of the amount of hair ties, bobby pins and hair clips I owed and lost. Having one of these in my handbag was a lifesaver and leaving home without it would spell out – disaster. Loose hair would always end up being tied in a ponytail or pinned up in a bun. Doing and redoing it to get it perfect. Windy, rainy, misty and humid weather conditions resulted in having perfectly styled hair turning to frizz in no time. All I can say is thank goodness for the flat iron that emerged as the most important hair-styling tool to hit the South African market in the early 2000s.
My decision to go short …
My decision to go short was always at the back of my mind. But it finally became a realisation in 2013 when I returned from a holiday in Australia. As the weather was so humid, my hair was mostly curly and hardly ever dry styled. The hard Australian water caused lots of damage to my hair. Hard water means that there are higher levels of calcium, iron, copper and magnesium in the water. My hair was dry, brittle and lifeless.
Deciding to have my hair cut wasn’t just going to the hairdresser and snipping it. I selected a hairstyle that would best suit my facial shape. But there was the risk of my haircut going all bad and not looking entirely like the one the model sported in the picture. Although brilliant, my previous hairstylist always talked me out of cutting my hair. Therefore, I changed my hairstylist. She came highly recommended but she never cut or styled my hair before. So it was a bit of a gamble as I put all my trust in a complete stranger.
So I finally took the plunge and decided to chop it all off. Sitting in the chair with the cape around me, there were doubts but I had to let go. As the stylist starting cutting and strands of hair fell on the floor, I looked in the mirror and saw the shocked expressions of the other clients and stylists. Baffled by my decision, the remarks followed.
“Why are you cutting your beautiful hair?”
“I wish for long hair and now you cutting yours”
Somehow I understood their point as some people would give anything to have natural long hair. People pay thousands to put in weaves, extensions and braids.
Trying to be brave but yet so nervous as my stylist seemed to enjoy having that scissor in her hand and snipping away.
So I nervously replied – “It’s just hair and it will grow again.”
By the time the stylist was done, I looked in the mirror to see the end result and I loved it. She did an amazing job and executed what I wanted. Such a transformation. I felt lighter, fresher and the best thing was, I pulled off the look. And so many compliments were received from the very same clients and hairstylists who questioned my decision.
But driving home, I was a bit apprehensive on how my family would react. To my surprise they loved it.
Although my long hair did not define me; it was associated with my identity. It was part of my physical appearance, my aesthetics but it was not the core of my being. I think that’s why it was so easy for me to let go.
Short hair liberation
Who said having short hair makes you less of a woman? Short hair allows me to be feminine and glamorous. It gave me more confidence to go from conservative long hair to bold and sleek short hair. I’m free of the fuss of having long hair. Maintaining my short hair is much easier. It literally takes me less than 30 minutes to wash and style my hair. As I don’t apply a lot of heat, it prevents hair damage. My hair is healthier and grows quicker. Having short hair is more cost effective than having long hair. I save on hair products and energy. I don’t have to style my hair every day, in fact there are days I don’t even brush my hair. No more worrying about my hair frizzing when I exercise. The weather is no longer a factor for bad hair days.
So with that in mind, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to having long hair.
PS! This is my experience and yours might be different. I you want to be bold and go for the cut, my advice is – be pretty sure this is what you really want to do.