"It's the eyebrows," everyone would tell my younger self, when they remarked on my resemblance to a young Jennifer Connelly. As a 13-year-old, this was not well-received. But after a plucking binge that left me with a chunk missing, I learned to accept my bushy brows. That was until Lily Collins appeared in Hollywood.
Lily Collins encapsulates my ultimate style icon: her year-round porcelain skin dramatizes her Snow White effect, her everyday dress mixes laid-back chic with some edgy flair and of course, she embraced the eyebrows. Which is why when she recently chopped off her lengthy raven locks, I felt the urge to do the same.
My hair has always felt very ingrained in my femininity and my youth. I've had long hair almost as long as I can remember, with the exception of a post-senior pictures boredom haircut in high school. Everyone knows me with long hair, and my sister once went so far as to claim that "half the reason I'm even attractive is my hair."
The older I got, the more dependent I became on my locks. I started college as one of the only students who refused to wear sweatpants to class, and finished college having gone to class three times my final quarter in anything but exercise clothes. My hair was my shield, my distractor and my secret weapon. Who needed to dress up when my waves were cascading over my shoulders and down my back, diverting attention from my makeup-free face or less-than-appropriate attire?
When I transitioned to a post-grad schedule, it became more of a hassle and less of a blessing. My hair began thinning from stress, over-curling and gripping work out headbands; I was waking up significantly earlier than I needed to assure no kinks or frizz would shift my morning in an unpleasant direction. And then Lily Collins began her promotional appearances (swoon).
I booked my appointment and planned on keeping the chop to myself. So, naturally, I told everyone I knew. After nearly bursting and showing a coworker the photo of Lily I planned to present my stylist with, she replied with an abrupt and concerned, "No! Why would you do that?!" A few hours later, my boyfriend had the exact same reaction. I began to rethink my rash decision.
I then began reflecting on why I was so attached to my hair. And then Shailene Woodley donated hers for a worthy cause and consequently wrote a blog post almost uncannily voicing my concerns and sentiments (okay, maybe not about feeling a tie to Native American culture ... but the rest aside from that). She described her hair as a symbol of strength and a recognition of her natural beauty. As five years of upkeeping and dedication. She ended with quoting a Regina Spektor song with particular words that jumped off the page: "it always grows back."
She was right. Why had I been sacralizing my hair in order to feel feminine and confident? Instead of appreciating the spontaneity of the decision I'd made, I'd let myself start to drown in the voices of other people, whose voices mattered far less than my own. This newfound freedom would allow the world to see my face every single day, whether a zit appeared front and center or I skipped mascara due to a malfunctioning alarm clock. There was something beautifully poetic about this wake up call.
I showed up to my appointment, and they snipped. And then chopped. And they cut. And behold, I felt liberated. Aside from a few cases of phantom hair, I haven't regretted the decision I made for myself and myself alone for a second.