And then, before I had a moment to reconsider, his scissors were snipping off thick, six-inch-long clumps of hair, which fell heavily onto my shoulders before hitting the floor. The next time I caught my reflection in the mirror, I was sporting a rather chic, chin-length bob. Then an undeniable buzzing sound sent a chill up my spine: Garren shaved the entire back of my head. “I’m leaving a chunk so it flops over your eye,” he said, as he moved on to my sideburns and temples. “It gives a sense of mystery.” When he put the shaver down, he began snipping the three to five inches that he’d left on top into a jagged-edged cap that just barely tickled my ears. I had less hair than Justin Bieber.
While it was startling, I was instantly obsessed. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop touching my softly bristled tresses, which felt like a duckling’s new feathers. I unabashedly checked myself out in every surface, and even chose a prime window seat on the subway just to gaze at my reflection. My neck looked longer, more elegant; my face had finally come out of hiding.
Instead of feeling a loss, I finally understood the liberating effect of cutting it all off. In early 1967, Mia Farrow’s winsome pixie catapulted both her and Vidal Sassoon’s careers; going short did the same for model Linda Evangelista in 1988; and, more recently, Ginnifer Goodwin’s tousled tomboy look lent the classically cute actress a modernity. I felt like the newest member of the club. With all due modesty, I looked good. Like quit-my-job-and-give-me-a-contract good. Maintenance is another upside. Time-consuming blowouts are a thing of the past: The new ’do air-dries in the time it takes me to get dressed. A spritz of Garren’s Designing Spray Tonic to tame any flyaways, a quick finger comb, and I’m out the door.
My makeover has been met with a variety of reactions, most of them very positive. A few friends didn’t recognize me and some accused me of adopting a punkier style—though my built-on-basics, Rag & Bone–heavy wardrobe hasn’t changed a bit. My mother, on the other hand, was aghast when I sent her an iPhone photo on the way out of the salon. “You look crazy,” she said in Korean, convinced that her hair ribbon–wearing, lacrosse-playing, prep school–attending daughter had been transformed into a goth (I’m hoping to convince her otherwise when I see her in person). But my own feelings are most in line with my boyfriend’s. He took one look and said simply, “Cool.”