Recently, I read a widely–shared Man Repeller article about why people should get impulsive haircuts and decided that, while I was due for a trim, I needed a different kind of change. The writer of the article, Eliza Dumais, wrote extensively about how emotionally transformative haircuts were for her and the people in her life. 

While I can attest to the "lightness" she describes after going to the salon, I can also say that every time I’ve gotten my haircut, I've ended up regretting it. Long hair works for me, and I wasn’t about to kid myself and think a cut would magically work now. 

However, another option that popped into mind was color. My hair has never been anything other than its natural color, except for the one time I got brown highlights that could only be noticed by myself and my mother in sunlight. So, after reading that article, I decided to get some quarter–life crisis highlights.

A couple days after my decision (made in Van Pelt, I might add), I ventured down to the Adolf Biecker Studio on 34th Street on a brisk Thursday morning and set up an appointment to get it done. It was officially happening and it was all I could think about for the following week. My expectations were officially being raised, which meant there was no going back.

Photo: Sally Chen Before the haircut

When I got the salon, I talked with the colorist, Alanna. We decided on what kind of highlights would work best for my hair, and we just went for it. Even though I ended up spending around two and a half hours in the salon, it felt pretty speedy. I treated myself to some trashy magazines and endless scrolling time and forgot all about my Econ 1 midterm in approximately one week and everything else that had been pressing on me. Changing up my hair transported me away from everything that was annoying me that day and was a great form of self–care. 

As the stylist, Jennifer, proceeded to dry and style my hair, I got ridiculously excited at the sight of just one colored tress of hair. I hadn’t felt that giddy in a really long time and as my hair was nearly close to being fully dried, I started to see myself differently. 

The thing is, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my hair. Sometimes I don’t mind it and other days my erratic curl pattern and drab natural hair color get me down. Over the years, I ended up spending so much time and energy caring about the way my hair looked that I just stopped caring, especially when I got to college. The same way people stop caring about their grades and start coasting after they get into college, I got so fed up with caring about my hair that in the process of just letting it be, I stopped hating it, which I felt like was as good as it would ever get.

Photo: Sally Chen After the haircut

But when I saw my highlighted hair, styled and then, after washing it, unstyled, I felt more confident. My natural curls were beautifully defined for the first time in forever, the lighter parts of my hair brought out the green in my eyes, and I did feel, as the Man Repeller article put it, lighter and more empowered. Yet, this time I didn’t lose hair, I guess I just lost whatever kind of emotional weight I kept. 

So if you’re thinking about getting a hair change, just do it. There’s something about really taking charge in how you look that changes how you feel about yourself. Life is too short to spend time lamenting the things that make us feel bad about ourselves instead of changing them or working to change our attitudes about them. 


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