Like many women, knowing how difficult it can be to grow out a pixie cut always spared me from discovering the emotional stages of cutting long hair into a pixie firsthand. But deriving inspiration from the leading ladies of pixie past, like Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson, Rihanna, and of course, Beyoncé, scores of women have made the leap from long locks to short. Many women consider pixie cuts to be the ultimate form of flawlessly chic hair, but that doesn't mean the transition is without some extreme emotional adjustment.
Personally, I've had short haircuts before — this isn't entirely my first rodeo — but some time early this past spring I decided this was the year I would finally give a true pixie cut a try. My over 16 inch long mane was lovely, and I had spent the past two years growing it out to reach mid-back glory. But it was starting to give me headaches if I didn't put it up correctly (I wore it up most days, to avoid overheating in the summer), and as most women with long hair will attest to, trying to sleep with anything longer than shoulder length hair in heat and humidity can be an aggravating ordeal.
So, at the end of last week, I joined the ranks of women who have gone under the clippers in search of the perfect pixie. As I've since discovered, losing your long locks can be pretty emotional, even for those of us who like to imagine we're mentally prepared. Thus, for the sake of any woman considering the drastic transition from long hair to a pixie cut, I present you with the emotional stages of getting a pixie cut.
1. Warming Up
No matter how long you've been toying with the idea of getting a pixie cut, you're gonna need a little more time to warm up to actually taking the plunge. That time could be spent at home, browsing the Internet for photos of pixies, asking yourself, "What if?" Or, it could be a whole lot of nervous thumb twiddling and hand rest clenching as you climb into your hair stylist's chair.
More than likely, though, you've put in a few days (or a few months) of research, asking your nearest and dearest a few dozen times whether or not they think the pixie is a good idea.
This is it. You're doing it. Everyone who thought you should has been hyping you up for days, and anyone who thought you shouldn't? Well, screw them! This is your day, baby. Time for change. Time for courage. Time for adventure!
3. The Calm Before The Storm
You've told your stylist what you want, you seem to be on the same page, and after sectioning off your long locks, she/he is about to make the first cut.
Sigh. How brave you are. Look, she just made the first cut, and you didn't even flinch. Buh-bye, 10 inches. You're feeling lighter already.
OK, so there you are, right about bob length, and everything seems to be going swimmingly. 10 inches gone? Eh, no biggie. Sure, it took a while to grow out, and it looked lovely, but man, this bob looks fun too. And hey, you've probably been here before. Isn't it time for something really striking?
Go on, hair reaper, go shorter, I've got this.
5. Sheer Panic
While the next few layers of hair cascade down around your shoulders and fall, limp into your lap, your stomach turns, and a rather uncomfortable knot grows in your throat. This is serious. Your eyes dart nervously about the salon, watching for some reaction, some clue as to whether what you're feeling inside matches what the world around you is watching. Sheesh, time for a sip of that water and a deep breath.
6. Relinquishing Control
Finally, you close your eyes and take a few moments to get centered, trusting that you're in good hands. You trust your stylist, she/he knows what you're looking for, and there's not much you can do at this point beyond trying to enjoy the ride. Let's see where this goes.
7. The Delicate Dance Between Love And Hate
Here's where the road forks. One universal truth that applies to any drastic change to your physical appearance is that eventually, you'll decide that you either love it, or hate it.
As the last strands tumble onto the cloak your hairstylist so kindly placed over you, and you examine the way your pixie cut exposes all of your features, emotions will be running pretty high. Tears might be welling in your eyes, or a goofy grin could be spreading slowly across your face. Perhaps you're straightening your spine, feeling much more demure and polished, or maybe you're sincerely afraid of leaving that chair. Gosh, who knew you could look so much like Justin Bieber or Ronald McDonald? This sucks. Or does it?
No, no, that's really not bad. In fact, maybe it's exactly as you hoped. Maybe this is the most feminine you've ever felt, with your ears peeking out and your long, lovely neck finally free to feel the breeze as you walk to the counter, pay, tip, and thank your hairdresser for a job well done.
You may vacillate this way for a while (and no worries if you do, this is a big change, and may take a while to process), or after a few quick seconds of testing your emotions, you could know immediately whether you're a whole new woman in the best way — or the worst (tear).
8. Elation Or Depression
Depending on where you landed in the previous stage, you're about to experience a wave of great elation, or potentially pretty difficult depression.
If you're lucky, your new pixie perfectly suits you. It highlights the aspects of your face that you love, and somehow, seems to echo each sweet, playful note of your exquisitely unique personality. You're on your way to share dinner with friends, and you know they're going to adore your new 'do, because nothing has looked better on you, ever. That's not lip service or immodesty, honey, that's just the truth.
There is, however, a chance that looking in the mirror after having your hair cut will make you cringe. That you'll wish you could find a hot tub time machine to warn your past self not to commit such a style crime against your beloved locks, which are now crumpled in some sad trash can, or lying carefully inside a bag, waiting to be donated. Or just stay in the past, and luxuriate in your long hair as long as possible. If you catch yourself here, edging close to doubting who you are as a woman as a result of your lacking length, stay strong. This too, shall pass — eventually.
Have you ever been really excited to make perfect bacon? You know, you've been making it all week, and you've really nailed the timing, getting each piece perfectly cooked — mostly crispy, but still enough fat to make that delicious bacon flavor pop? And then, somehow, everything goes kind of south, and your bacon ends up burnt. That's kind of how I feel about my hair right now. Maybe not bad, but not entirely the fabulous result I was hoping for (then again, maybe I'm being hard on myself — I do that from time to time).
It's not my hairdresser's fault. She's been cutting great hair for years, and the structural integrity and style of this particular pixie is fine, just fine. And when all is said and done, I'll still find a way to rock it. Not unlike that bacon, because sure, it's burnt, but it's still bacon.
I guess it turns out I much preferred the idea of bacon and a pixie cut much more than the reality. But whether you're in the same boat as I am, skirting the edges of slight depression and self doubt, or absolutely thrilled about the way your new pixie makes you stand out of the crowd, one thing is for sure. It's just hair. You can keep your mane short for years to come (yay!), or start the growing out process the very moment after it's been sheared (yay!). Either way, it's just hair, and you're still you, and that's something to be truly grateful for. Not to mention, this super short hair is really easy to manage, and so, so cool in the summer heat. Plus, you tried something new, and that rocks.
I'd always wanted a pixie cut, right up until I got one. Then I wasn't so sure. With any luck, your experience will prove more fruitful. Many women rock pixie cuts with effortless ease. But mark my words — whether you love the end result or hate it, you're bound to ride an emotional roller coaster in the process.
Images: Jen Schildgen; Giphy (10)