This week, we’re celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the site – can you believe it?! The stories posted will commemorate the different phases of fashion, life, story telling, and everything else that has happened since 2006! We’re so happy to look back and share some of the best moments with you, and hope you’ll enjoy the ride ;)
As with any important moment in my life, I’m dying to tell you about my hair.
A few months ago, I decided to let it grow out. I loved my short hair, though. It got me through my breakup and a period of transition—I even met the love of my life while my hair was short. It gave me style, a little edge, it was easy to do in the morning, and it was apparently way more photogenic.
Plus, growing it out meant I would have to go through THE DREADED GROWING OUT PHASE.
Oh, oh, oh.
Another thing I never anticipated: Letting my hair grow out would mean having to wade through an incredible amount of negative comments. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
But I did it anyway. For a lot of reasons. I wanted more softness. My short cut was very soft, with its long layers and flowy contours, but I’d gotten it done at a kind of strange time in my life, and my hair was a constant reminder of that. My guy, like most men, also wanted my long hair back. “But you fell in love with me with short hair!” “I know, but…” So I wanted to make him happy, too.
I was also just ready for a change. I was telling you the other day about how I’ve been practicing visualization, and in all my visualizations, I saw myself with very long hair. I wanted a different type of femininity, even though I find short hair to be extremely sensual and feminine. And I think I wanted to wrap myself up, cover myself a little. With short hair, you feel very naked, actually.
… Pretty symbolic of a time when I didn’t know how to protect myself.
And I didn’t want to be stuck and identified with short hair. So I decided to grow it out. And if it didn’t work? Well I could always cut it again. No big deal. Just a soft shift for the different women that I feel I am.
Okay, so it wasn’t that difficult, but it was pretty funny. I forgot how curly my hair was. I fantasized for three minutes about having that curly bangs look that’s really big right now, until I realized it only works on like 0.456% of the population… in other words, only Steffy Argelish. On me, well, it was nice for making my sister laugh in silly selfies. It was okay for like two minutes. After that, I spent a few months trying to suffocate the truth (a.k.a. a nest of anarchist strands) with bobby pins.
Sometimes I’d let my hair down and it was just a ball of curls on my head, which Chris loved, but me—not so much.
I have a theory (okay, it’s a really weird one) that we are all super attached to the hair we had as children and that’s why a lot of women want to dye their hair the blonde of their childhood. As a kid, I had super dark, wavy hair, never curly. Anyway, that’s as far as my theory goes.
One day, it had finally grown out into a bob and I got a keratin treatment (new generation—I don’t know what it’s called, I’ll have to ask Clyde, my hair stylist, but I assure you it works wonders) to soften the mass on my head. I left a few shorter pieces in the front—not bangs. My idea was more like “Kim Basinger in 9 ½ Weeks”.
Just like every time, I gave Clyde a big hug. It still had movement, it still had volume, but now it was totally manageable. Finally! I was thrilled.
On Instagram during that time, the comments were pouring in: “Noooooo don’t grow your hair out, what an unspeakable tragedy!” “Forget long hair, it doesn’t look good on you!” or even “You’re ugly with long hair!” “Sacrilege!” “So disappointed”.
And it went on like that for three months. It was kind of strange, like I’d become the mascot for short hair and letting it grow out was some kind of betrayal. It was also strange to see how some people have no qualms about making cutting remarks. Maybe they thought they were being nice, like a good friend who’s a little too frank, but sometimes it was actually a little hurtful.
That said, even people who are close and kind expressed themselves: my team, at one point, decided to do an intervention. They all said in unison:
“We liked you better with short haaaaiiiirrr!!!!”
It was cute. I took it as a sign of affection, but I still kept growing my hair out. It’s true, maybe long hair will never frame my face as well as short hair. Maybe it makes me less spunky, it’s more traditional, less original.
But it seems right, perfect even, for me in this moment. So I’m letting people say what they have to say and I’m having fun with the length. Remember, before I cut my hair the first time everyone told me not to do it. So here are the lessons I’ve learned:
1) Our hair and our bodies belong to us. They’re part of our own personal story, whether or not they meet other people’s expectations, society’s expectations, or fashion’s expectations. Others are always full of good intentions, they want what’s best for us, they want to see us looking “as beautiful as possible”. Even so, they can’t always know what’s happening on the inside. So it’s best to just let them express themselves and keep doing whatever you want.
2) Our hair, our curves, our body hair, our colors, are about much more than just aesthetics. That’s something I’m learning to accept little by little. I always said one day I might go blonde. Maybe one day that will fit my emotional state. And at that time, whether it pleases other people or not, I’ll do it just for me.
3) Changing doesn’t have to be dramatic. Hair grows back in six months, and you can cut it off in ten minutes. The story of our appearance, like the story of our life, is in our own hands. We can make it whatever we want. We are free. We get to know ourselves. We change. The pursuit of an aesthetic isn’t always the pursuit of beauty, necessarily. It can also be a way of searching for yourself.
It’s kind of like the women who decide to stop coloring their gray hair, liberating themselves from the tyranny of youth, the gaze of others, from following the rules, and preconceived ideals about beauty.
If it matches what you are on the inside, then it’s right for you, and if it’s right for you, it’s beautiful.
Photography: Erik Melvin