For the past couple of weeks, I have been toing and froing about cutting my hair from bust-length to just above my shoulders. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to most of you reading this, you’re probably thinking just do it or don’t do it. But this happens often for me, and I don’t think I’m alone in it.
Over the past ten years, I have noticed a behavioural pattern emerging regarding my hair. Namely, when it has grown long, I want nothing more than to cut it short, and when I have cut it short, I want nothing more than for it to hurry up and grow long again.
For ages, I thought that this was simply a consequence of my indecisiveness, my inability to commit to anything that involves long periods of waiting, and a smattering of BDD symptoms (If you never know what you look like, you don’t know what hairstyle suits you).
When this familiar urge to chop off all of my hair reared its head again recently, I began to think a little more in-depth about it. The conclusion I came to was interesting if a little unexpected on my part. I oscillate between wanting short hair and long hair because it makes it easier to pretend that I’m not me.
When I change my hair, for the period it takes me to get used to it (or to grow it out) I feel like I am a new person. When I look in the mirror I see someone different for a while and it feels like taking a break from myself. The same situation can manifest with piercings, tattoos, hair dye, whole new wardrobes, rearranging furniture, painting your house from top to bottom.
To those of you who do not struggle with periods of intense dislike for yourself may find that revelation somewhat dispiriting, but it feels incredibly comfortable I assure you. You may also wonder if this realisation has quelled the urge to chop off all my hair and the simple answer is no.
The thing is, learning to love yourself, especially if you start so far down the other side of the spectrum, takes a long time and a lot of work. Not giving in to the urge to change my hair up will not make me love myself more. But in the grand scheme of things, it acts as a useful little band-aid to make things feel a little better for a small while.
If you feel the need to change up your appearance, your clothes, your décor, your furniture, go for it. That temporary serotonin boost is worth it, it can lead to incredible growth and a large step on the journey to greater self-acceptance and love.