Confession: I Chopped Off My Hair


Kristin gathers my hair in a ponytail with one hand, and asks me if I’m ready. I am.  In just three quick snips, it’s done.  She holds up the remains, a sad little remnant of the last two years of my life.  Gone in just a few seconds.  An offering of sorts, as I think about my experience with offerings in Bali.  And the first word that pops into my head…
I had wavered back and forth for months, wanting a change but not willing to sacrifice my (self)beloved hair in order to achieve it.  I actually had serious anxiety about whether or not I would be able to go through with this haircut when the day actually arrived.  Like heart racing, making-a-major-life-decision anxiety.
I realize how crazy this sounds.  I can hear what I imagine many people are thinking when reading about this.  “Is she really describing a haircut as a life decision?  It’s just hair.  It grows back.  Some people don’t have the luxury of deciding to lose some or any of their hair.  This sounds like a ‘my diamond shoes are too tight’ problem.  How shallow/ridiculous/insignificant”.
It’s not courageous, but it was for me. It’s not drastic, but it was for me.  It’s not significant.  But it was for me.
Because somewhere along the way, somewhere between New York and LA, between East Coast Katie and West Coast Katie, my hair became its own entity, my security blanket, my identity.  The first thing that most people noticed when meeting me.  The thing I could hide behind.  The first thing people referred to when talking about me, that girl with the Drybar addiction.  Not my smile, not my ideas, but this blown-out & highlighted-into-submission-by-professionals, bears-no-resemblance-to-its-natural-state hair.  I was hiding behind something that wasn’t even real.  
When did this become my identity?  Why was I so happy to go along with it?  And when did I realize that it wasn’t enough?  
Was it somewhere in Croatia, where staying cool in the ocean was more important than looking cool on the shore?  In Ojai, where showers were a luxury and spending even 10 minutes on your hair was 10 minutes you missed getting to know someone amazing?  In Bali, where hair styling was a logistical impossibility?  Or did it actually happen in LA, this realization that I wanted more?
I walked in front of a mirror after I was fully coiffed and did a double take.  I said “OH!” out loud.  I was startled to find that I wasn’t surprised at my reflection because it looked different.  I was surprised because I felt like I caught a glimpse of ME.  The me I was before the hair vanity took over.  The me who cared more about making people feel good than trying so hard to look good.  The me I want to be now. 
And hey, I’m certainly not giving up all vanity–I obviously didn’t hack off my own hair, or trust Supercuts to take off seven inches.  I am thrilled to love the way that it looks now (thank you Kristin!!!).  I can still be Drybar’s #1 fan.  I think it’s awesome how a good hair day can equal a good day.  I’m just aiming to get to the place where a bad hair day doesn’t mean a bad DAY.  Where hair is a sidebar instead of the point.
I took a before photo of my hair, a remembrance of what it had been.  But I didn’t take an after photo.  Because today, right now, it’s not just about the hair. 
It IS just hair.  It WILL grow back.  And I’ll be working on a more important legacy while it does.


16 thoughts on “Confession: I Chopped Off My Hair

  1. Six years ago, I made the bold choice to shave off my hair. Not out of necessity (although looking back on it, perhaps it was necessary in a transformational way) but for some other reason I have never been quite able to articulate. For six years I have bumbled through answers to inquiries about when am I going to grow my hair back, simply answering ‘never.’ But something remained inside me, an answer that wanted to express itself but stayed trapped behind filtered expressions of being a wise-ass and dismissive responses. The truth is, I was ready for the world to see the real me, the person behind the curtain and how funny that it’s taken me so long to catch up with something I set in motion all those years ago. Thank you, Katie, for sharing your inspiring journey with the world and allowing yourself to been heard (and seen!), articulating so beautifully those words that I have struggled to find for a long time. Your post actually brought some tears here on my end, not always an easy thing to do for me sometimes. Peace =)

    • Todd, thank YOU so much for sharing. I’m so happy you were able to find some clarity by watching someone else go through a similar experience. It’s amazing how many wonderful things about ourselves we keep hidden…and how, when we finally let them out, we find love and support from the people around us. I’m glad we can see the real you!!!

    • Thank you!!! I’ve done this chop a few times over the past 15 years….but somehow this time, it meant so much more. The feeling of lightness surrounding it is exhilarating!

  2. This is the best thing you’ve written thus far. Incredible writing. Coming from me, not sure if that means a lot but, yay Katie! Can’t wait to see the new do 🙂

  3. Wow girl, you are going hard-core now! Love it! Hair is never just hair for women – it always means something. Looking forward to a pic of the new ‘do.

  4. LOVE this post! I’ve had a lifelong salon addiction and have just had a similar experience, but with hair color rather than length. Last week, I went back to a color that is as close to my natural caramel/strawberry blonde as I have been in ten years – and I absolutely love it.

    This year alone, I’ve gone from regular highlighting to full-on all over bleaching, then back to lowlights, then to a darker chestnut all over color and now here we are. I’ve never had more colors in one year than in 2012 and I cannot be happier to look in the mirror and sigh with joy and relief as I have a similar “Oh, it’s me” moment. It’s absolutely fantastic!

    I was blown away when Anne Hathaway cut all her hair off for Les Mis, but now she is perfectly stunning. She is a total knockout and carries a completely different level of confidence now in photos and interviews. There is something utterly powerful about a major haircut. It’s like revealing a whole new you, or just *the most fabulous you*.

    I’m working on a post about all the color changes and it will be up soon. Congrats on the new ‘do and keep up the awesome posts!


  5. Love this!! Letting go of hair(self) takes on a whole new meaning when chemotherapy is involved. My hair was involuntarily removed. I was completely bald for about 6 months. Nothing will shock your vanity like being bald. My hair has grown out, and I covet it like a 13 year old girl! I will forever smile every time I feel my hair on my shoulders. This post is great because it gets to the heart of why we love and let go of our hair.

    Love your hair cut, I’m sure it goes without saying that I love you too!!

    • I was thinking about you at times while writing this, and when cutting…how I was actually LUCKY to have the ability to decide long hair vs short hair. You continue to be my inspiration. Your courage and grace, and your need to help other people during and after cancer…I can only hope to find my purpose in such a clear way! I love you sister!!!

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