It started with getting over a fear of my own forehead, which dates back to summer 2012. I remember I was sitting on a hill at camp when someone first asked me what I looked like without my dramatic side part. (Which I adopted after a friend cautioned that the high school scene kids might write me off as the girl with the “fucking middle part.”) It took some convincing, but eventually, I caved. I bared my forehead, and a friend of mine literally screamed.
I’ve since lost touch with them; so, too, my forehead fear. Three years ago, I even said goodbye to my other go-to form of forehead coverage: bangs. I now part my hair less dramatically to the side—at least, I did until last week. Six days into social distancing, it occurred to me that while I’m working from home, I should do my hair a favor and stop straightening it. And then came what seemed, at the time, like a logical next step: Why not just chop it all off?
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In the time of self-isolation, who would even be there to judge?
Less than an hour after the idea popped into my head, I picked up a pair of scissors. The more I cut, the more elated I felt. Suddenly, I was Keira Knightley in Bend It Like Beckham. A few snips later, I was Shane in The L Word. (Nowhere near as hot, of course,) Then came Agyness Deyn in her supermodel heyday, and Ruby Rose, circa Orange Is the New Black. I felt like I was sprinting through the lesbian pop culture canon—or years’ worth of Kristen Stewart and Justin Bieber’s various permutations—in a matter of minutes.
I was somewhere around Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables when I realized it was getting late, and I had a giant mess to clean up. And then I realized another perk of the current moment: I could take my time. The worst part of my late-night haircut habit is I’m often too tired to get around to evening it out. Usually, I have to try to wake up early and rush to do so before heading into work. But now? Nope!
At the end of the following workday, I picked the scissors back up. I’ve been cutting my own hair since I was 13—barring an unexpected lob courtesy of a celebrity hairstylist story—but I’d never used clippers. As it turns out, it isn’t that hard. What is hard, though, is describing the sense of freedom I felt in shaving off what remained—and the comfort in realizing it didn’t look great. I’d fantasized of having enough confidence to cut my hair short for years, but worried about any further drop in my self esteem. But the solitude of quarantine freed me from my insecurities, and suddenly, I simply didn’t give a fuck.
I had no regrets, but it did take me until midway through an all-staff Zoom meeting to turn on the video function the next day. And when I did, the response was much more positive than I’d expected. Again: Now’s the perfect time. Why not give it a try? I just have one word of caution: For those keen to discover the delights of having a rattail, perhaps wait until after life gets back to normal. When it comes to cutting or buzzing around it, you could really use a helping hand.
A Complete Visual History of Justin Bieber’s Hair
And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh…
Aside from minor changes in its swoop, Bieber stayed notably consistent with his look between 2008 and 2010.
For his appearance at the 2011 Video Music Awards, Bieber offered a long-awaited glimpse at his forehead, and accessorized with glasses and Selena Gomez.
A sneak peek at Bieber’s future scruffiness.
By 2012, Bieber seemed to have learned how to maintain his original locks: by simply slicking them back into a bouffant.
The kickoff of Bieber’s Believe tour in South Africa brought his bouffant to the international level.
Bieber’s cheery mug shot, taken shortly after he was charged with drunk driving, resisting arrest, and driving without a valid license, featured a magnificent bouffant—perhaps because he’d just spent the night racing.
Fully embracing his roast on Comedy Central, Bieber matched his hair to his monkey’s. (To be clear, this is not OG Mally, Bieber’s pet monkey, who was infamously confiscated by the German authorities, and who is still a resident of a German zoo—and still having trouble communicating with other monkeys.)
Posing with Nash Grier, Bieber later captioned this image simply “#Ponytails.”
Behold: a bleached-blond Bieber.
By the next month, though, he was back to his dirty-blond bouffant.
Who knows what’s hiding under this beanie? The possibilities are endless.
Bieber started off the new year with a bang—i.e., a man bun.
By the next month, he’d already moved on to bleached blond, as he showcased at the Saint Laurent show.
Naturally, his Purpose World Tour merited his third transformation in as many months. Lest it get in his way, he slicked it back into a bun on the tour’s opening night in Seattle.
Yes, those are dreadlocks, and yes, Bieber wore them out in public—here at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, though regrettably on other occasions as well.
By the next month, the dreads were fully gone, though that didn’t stop Bieber from making a statement while on his trip to Monaco. It was during this month that he also got a teeny face tattoo.
A little over a year later, Bieber shifted his attention to his facial hair.
The next year, his regrown hair didn’t exactly help him at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
We’re still waiting with bated breath to find out if or when Bieber will deliver on this promise.
Look at those luscious locks go!
The evidence of the haircut, though, was already gone by the next month.
While in Michigan that September—a whirlwind month for Bieber’s hair—he returned to the forehead-less days of his youth.
Yes, that bump under his hood is no doubt a bun or a ponytail, pulled up high on his head, Hailey Baldwin–style.
Less than a week later, Bieber took care of the bump, using his Instagram Story to share the news of his buzz cut, which quickly earned him the nickname Buzztin. It also put his tiny face tat of a cross more prominently on display—an act of faith perhaps as prominent as his and Hailey’s commitment to waiting until marriage to have sex.
Save for the presence of Hailey and quite a few more tattoos, you’d be forgiven for thinking this photo dates several years back. In May 2019—yet another banner year of hair changes for Bieber—he threw things back to his original sleek, neatly combed, and naturally colored mop.
Periods of scruff soon followed, but Bieber once again managed to clean things up for his (second) wedding to Hailey in the following months.
It’s no surprise that Bieber kicked off the new year in a pair of Drew House pajamas, but his peroxide pixie was definitely an unexpected touch.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Hailey. Even she (reportedly) “can’t stand” Bieber’s mustache, which unfortunately made a comeback. (Bieber even put it at the center of his “Intentions” art.) Hailey has yet to publicly condemn it, but according to People‘s mysterious source, that might be for the best: “The more people want him to shave it off, the more he wants to keep it. It’s staying for now. It’s making him feel like a rebel and he likes it!” Thankfully, Hailey has previously prevailed in getting him to shave it off.