I stood in the bathroom and swished my short mop between my hands one more time. Staring into the mirror last night, I complained aloud to my mother that I didn’t feel like myself. “I want my glamour back,” I whined. “I feel like a news anchor or a soccer mom. It’s so suburban. So conformist. So not me,” I continued, revealing my inner rebel college girl apparently never graduated.

“Next time I want to chop my hair, I will think twice.” And then do it, if I know me.

But it wasn’t impulsive the day my friend Kristen took 20 inches off. I knew exactly what I was doing. Premeditated. I uploaded my bare face to the online try-any-style sites, and I liked Halle Berry’s pixie best.

So off went the hair, and I imagine several children have worn it by now. (I donated it, for all you bleeding hearts who want to know.)



In case you think from the images above I suddenly had a one-third-life crisis, I didn’t. I’ve always been this way. (Is that better?)

The first time it happened, I was seven, when my mom said “no bangs”, and I cut them anyway. Then again when I was 16. I wanted a layered look, which I cut myself, and then needed an emergency rescue. At Supercuts, not the ER. But still.

The pixie cut first happened when I was 19, a rebellious, grieving act. My friend died, I graduated high school, my boyfriend and I were crazy and so bad for each other. And the meltdown manifested in hair. Off my head, on the floor. Oh, and two nose rings. One at a time. I couldn’t make up my mind. And then there was a short period of wearing boy clothing. But let’s not keep going with this and chalk it up to Post-Teen Delirium. It’s probably a real disorder by now.

Anyway, this time, I turned 30. No death or grief to name, but a new era. A baby now seven months old, and a mom stereotype to rebel against. And somewhere in there, I was uncomfortable with beauty, unsure of the standard I was meant to keep. I wanted to toss off the expectations. And so I did. The glamour girl with hair so obedient I never even combed it ended up with almost no hair at all.

And I made it work for me. I went punk rock:

And I even figured out elegant:

It all suited me just fine.

Until I grew out of it. The season of rebelling against my own compulsions dissolved one day. I changed. I didn’t feel at home in this hair anymore. I wanted glamour back. I wanted the feeling of easy beauty, without all the makeup and straightening irons and guilt from stealing my husband’s hair products for men.

At the end of the day, I just wanted to feel pretty again. The short hair rebelled against my beauty obsession, reined in my fear of wanting to be glamorous, the classic idea of beauty. That’s what it was when I was 19, and it came back when I was 30. My husband didn’t protest, and I guess I needed to just make the statement, to free myself from this “burden of beauty” I placed on myself.

It felt heavy, like 20 inches of hair feels. So off it went.

I’m 31 now, pushing 32, if that’s a thing, and tonight I went on a date with my husband to celebrate our fifth anniversary. I wanted so badly to feel beautiful again, to show him I’ve still got it. But I knew what I was working with: a frustrating blob of hair that didn’t feel or look like I wanted to look, which was head-turning, jaw-dropping beautiful. Like the day I married him.


Maybe it sounds cocky to say I want to look that way, but really, I just want to feel that way. I wanted that confidence back.

And suddenly, the hair that meant the burden of beauty two years ago now represented the weight of self-confidence, not the “Woman, stay at home; your hair is your glory” vibe, but just the effortless glamour I took for granted the day I said “I do” just a few years ago.

I missed it.

No, I miss it. Present tense.

So I got on the Googles, and I looked at short hair styles on famous people. I know you’re not supposed to look at beautiful women on the internet to feel better about yourself, but guess what, that’s what I did, and it worked for me. They gave me ideas. Which gave me options. And options almost always give me confidence. They reach into my Trapped Mode and pull me out. Remind me I’m not stuck here.

I got out my straightening iron and my hair product. I scooped out the eye liner and the lipstick. And I wore the new scarf my friend brought me from Mexico.

And it turned out right.


I felt beautiful. And he said so too.

So I just wanted to let you know that you can feel beautiful too, even if you’re in the awkward stage of growing up or out or any way. There is make up and hair gel enough, but at the end of the day, I just needed to know it was possible. Beauty is indeed possible. That a girl like me, in-between where she’s been and where she is going, can still radiate, can still walk with the elegant stride, can still be every bit a lady while I figure it out.

And so can you.

So go be beautiful. It’s much easier than you think.

One thought on “Losing beauty

  1. Sarah! I love it when you write like this~ I totally get the hair thing because I’ve chopped it off and grown it out so many times. I color with box color and since spring of 2011, I’ve been cutting it myself. It’s so hacked up that I don’t think I have the humility enough to let someone fix it. But sometimes, other women stop me and compliment my hack job and beg for my stylist. I grin like crazy and say, you’re looking at her. I float. Literally. I think you’re beautiful and I love your short hair. You have the face for it.


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