In times of change, strife or emotion, I've always done one thing: cut my hair. Some people turn to wine, others exercise. Me? Scissors. Days before starting high school, I went from Little House On The Prairie long to Natalie Imbruglia circa 'Torn' short on a whim within half an hour.
When I split up with my university boyfriend, I chopped big chunks out of my bum-length mane myself. As my general look plummeted from glossy to arty to scarecrow-ish, friends hid the scissors and whisked me off to a salon.
When I was struggling to write my dissertation, I dyed it from auburn to platinum blonde. It wasn't a good idea, gave me the look of someone who had pretty bad rosacea, but hey! My hair, my choice, my weird way of expressing myself.
And last week I did it again. I woke up on Thursday morning with long, ombre-ed hair and by elevenses had a Nicole Richie length bob. Except this time, the decision to chop was borne out of positivity rather than some romantic or work drama. I wanted to look Karlie Kloss fresh, Michelle Williams cute and Audrey Tautou cool. A tall order, obviously.
Last year I got married and grew my hair - as you do - for the pictures. And the pictures did look great, I'm all long-haired and bride-like. Hurrah, mission accomplished!
But the moment my honeymoon was over, I wanted rid of it. It just hung there, so unnecessary and was a bit like dragging round a high-maintenance animal on my head. Why did it need so much attention, take so long to dry, literally fall flat five minutes after a blow out?
Despairing about your hair on a regular basis is no way to live and as Stephen Low - my stylist in charge of the big chop and a director at Neville Hair & Beauty - tells me, if you're forever tying your long hair back you probably shouldn't have long hair.
Speaking of Stephen, he's a very reassuring person to take you from long to short. He makes it seem like it's no big deal, tells you not to worry, looks incredibly calm and focused on the whole thing. Which is comforting.
"Can I take a picture of my hair when you cut it off?" I ask, moments after sitting down. "What, this?" he says, holding six inches of my now previous do in his hand.
So why do women go from long to short just like that? A quick poll of friends finds the main reasons are: break-ups, redundancy, stress, a desire to be taken more seriously, giving birth and general dissatisfaction, a wish for something - anything - to happen. In truth, when it comes to going short, us girls have huge expectations of how said hair cut will change our lives. It's not just about updating our look, it's about making our lives better.
And I know it sounds really lame, but since cutting all my much tended-to, primped and bridal-feeling hair off, I've been in a better mood. I feel like myself again and a lot more feminine than I did when my tresses were mid-back long.
Stephen tells me I should go shorter and to come back to see him in a couple of months when I'm used to my mussy short bob. And let's put it this way - I'm not ruling it out. Perhaps I've just reached that stage when long starts to feel a bit wrong. Perhaps super lengthy hair is only a good thing when you've got a reason for it to be there.
Either way, the whole experience has left me feeling brand new. Goodbye all that bridal stress! Adios post-wedding blues! Isn't it amazing what a difference an hour in the salon chair can make?
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