Reader Sonia reached out with this request:
I have read your piece “If You Want To, You Should Totally Chop Off All Your Hair” (brilliant!) several times, and after two years of psyching myself up, I made an appointment to totally chop off all my hair. I am 100% committed. And excited! And terrified. My hair is currently one length, mostly straight, and ends several inches below the tops of my shoulders. I’m 45, and it’s been this way (or longer) for 26 years. And I’m SO TIRED OF IT. Hence, the chopping.
My question is, do you have any advice for when I get up out of that salon chair and take my first few forays in the world with dramatically different hair? I’m talking somewhere between a faux-hawk and a pixie. REALLY short.
A couple years ago, when I accidentally died my hair fire engine red (I have naturally dark blonde hair), I was petrified to go into work. My dear friend Lisa Beth told me, “Put on a bunch of eye make-up, and walk in there like you F-ing own the place!” I did, and it worked.
Here are my stats: Dark blonde hair, some grey at the temples, very fair skin, grey eyes, rimless glasses 24/7, minimal make-up, 5’9″, 200 lbs. I tend to dress in dark colors and conservative styles for work.
Any bit advice for walking into work that first day?
As a pixie cut veteran, I was so excited to hear Sonia’s question! Here’s what I told her:
Your friend’s advice is stellar, and I definitely advise going in equipped with some confident, positive replies like, “Isn’t it fun? I’ve been thinking of doing it for ages and am so happy with how it turned out!” Changing up your dressing habits or makeup may make even more waves, so you’ll have to decide for yourself if you want to go a similar route as you did when you dyed your hair red. On one hand, it might cause people to ask about a full makeover. On the other, if you’ve been thinking about making other changes to your style or makeup you could get all of the newness out of the way at once!
I don’t really have a game plan for you, I’m afraid, but I’ll tell you this: Some people will have opinions, some people will make remarks, some people may even be forward or inconsiderate. But virtually NONE of that is about you. People instinctively fear change and that includes changes that others make. Their discomfort is about themselves – some may admire your boldness and wish they had the guts to make a similar change, some may have feelings about arbitrary age/femininity “rules” that they feel you’re bending. Their unease is caused by the fact that you made a decision that pushed them out of their routine. And it is NOT your responsibility to soothe them. You are making this change for yourself, and they’ll just have to get used to it.
I would also add that most changes have a two-week interest-based shelf-life. After that, people often don’t remember what you looked like before. Our memories really are that short! Several years ago, Husband Mike decided to wear suits to his SUPER casual office. Every day. He wanted to make it his personal uniform. And, as you might expect, he got a stream of “job interview” jokes and curious comments. But they lasted for two weeks, then tapered, then stopped completely. Now, this will only help you if you’ve made a relatively drastic change and plan to stick with it consistently from here on out – which is the case with a haircut. If you wear the occasional foofy tulle skirt but generally stick to pencils and A-lines, that’s a different deal. But if you get a makeover, switch styles drastically overnight, dye your locks bright blue, or do something similarly permanent, count on about two weeks of inquiries. Your peer group should acclimate by then. (Hopefully.)
I would never say that you should make massive changes to your appearance no matter how your friends, family, and peers might react. Because you live in the world, and you interact with people, and if you’re fairly certain they’re going to be obnoxious about it, that’s a very real concern. But I hope that arming yourself with some pithy responses, preparing for about two weeks of irritation, and remembering that these comments are only slightly related to you and your choices will help you feel braver and more able to make the changes you want.
Image first seen on Instagram.