a hair-raising decision

The Birdy rarely reveals herself, and even less-so in self-indulgent selfies, but it was the only way to illustrate the Big Chop. Hair is frustrating. Infuriating. Downright fussy. When it's a Good Hair Day, it can be something that frames one's face perfectly, a coiffed crown atop one's head. But most days, speaking for myself, hair was just a nuisance. I was growing it out to keep my style options open, but all it was doing was acting like an anchor, weighing me down in looks and time. Most days, it was pulled back in a ponytail, which was the equivalent of throwing on a baseball cap and running out the door. I was long overdue for a change, and so I took myself to Seven Salon and said, make this Jaunty Magpie anew!

I'd been admiring short hairstyles like the ones actresses Ginnifer Goodwin, Michelle Williams, Carey Mulligan and Natalie Portman (post-V for Vendetta buzzcut) for a while. With short hair, they stood out in a crowd, it gave them such a smart and modern look, their locks weren't the twirly-curly, cascading hairdos of the masses, atop every head of a Housewives of...Whatever City in America. And best of all, if they went to bed after taking a shower, their hair would not still be wet in the morning. Bonus. I just wanted something easy and fuss-free, something I could really enjoy styling, and not have it be a chore -- that's why I did it, and why I made sure to go with a stylist who was skilled at handling such a drastic change. I've always gone to Seven Salon when I want something new, and they've always been wonderful at it. And now I've got wonderful, crazy short hair to play with, wrestle through new morning bed-head issues, and loving every minute of it.

The most interesting thing was afterwards, when people would ask why I did it, or say, "Well, it will always grow back," immediately assuming it was a mistake. Believe me, it was probably the best decision I've made in a long time.

The amazing thing about hair is how personal it is. No one cares if we change our clothing styles or switch up our makeup routine, but the second you chop all your hair off, people wonder, "Is there something wrong?" My Friday night indulgence is watching What Not To Wear, and it's always when they get to the hairstyle part of the show where there's often tears. To cut off one inch of hair on an already ample mane is like asking to remove one's spleen with rusty knives. We know it grows back, and yet it feels like a huge change that somehow reflects our emotional state of mind. It made me think of when Britney Spears shaved her head in a moment of rage. People were outraged when TV series title character, Felicity, shore down her curly, signature mane and ratings dropped. Even the Biblical Samson lost his strength when his hair was cut, so it's not just about the ladies. Hair is clearly a symbol of power, and for women, a source of femininity. While it deserves to be celebrated, it should strive to be something that's a reflection of ourselves, and not someone else's idea of who we should be.

Antiquated definitions of beauty only result in people striving for a look that's status quo. I celebrate the women who choose boldness -- shaving down part of their head for a little punk edge; adding a bright streak of color; going full-mohawk -- anything to provoke the mindset that feels the need to ask if you're "okay" when your look goes against the common expectation of what a woman should look like. At one point, it was daring for a woman to wear pants, or even a suit. Women were chastised for being less of a woman for dressing like a man, but the fashion-forward mavens prevailed. 

And while the length of one's hair bears more of a whisper than a shout on the scale of overall world events, it's a reminder that there are still invisible barriers that quietly corral our self-image. You don't notice it until you step beyond them, and people ask if you're OK. Be more than OK -- take the step you've been wanting to make and have your look be a personal statement, whatever that means to you.

Jaunty Fine Print: Photos by Denise Sakaki

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