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.