There is a saying by Coco Chanel that goes "A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life."
I have partly disagreed with this saying for quite a few years, and this is why. When I was fifteen I shaved my head. It was one of the biggest decisions of my life and it completely changed, not me, not my life, but the way other people saw me. People don't just shave their head (at least most women don't). You have to be ready to make the decision to do it first. At the time, my father's best mate was struggling through losing his fiancee to cancer. That fragility of life was impressed upon me by their story and in one swift decision I made a move of solidarity as if to say 'I will mark this point it time for you, because I have nothing else to give.'
People I had known my entire life didn't recognise me (quite a few ignored me like I was a stranger, one introduced herself to me). I had spent 15 years with long curly hair and in one sudden action changed what people had connected with me and my identity. The hair had for a long while, not been a part of how I saw myself, and as I changed under the cocoon I was in, no one else noticed. They seemed to continue to assess me and my identity by my outer portrayal of self.
The saying by Coco Chanel suggests that the external change of cutting hair, is then followed by further and more dramatic external and internal changes. Another interpretation could be that it is a woman's way of making an emotional stand during a time of turmoil in an effort to reclaim some control and ownership of her life. I have found at the times in my life where I dramatically changed my hair that I didn't change one bit afterwards. The change that Chanel is talking about, you see, had already happened.
When a woman (and I'm sure some chaps may do this too) cuts her hair, she is indicating huge changes have taken place in her life that you may not yet have seen. A hair cut is not a hint at an upcoming change, it is the final reveal.
After my shaved head, when the change finally sunk it (and it took time for other people to not be hostile about it), the most common thing people said to me was, "you've changed since you cut your hair."
This was possibly just as frustrating as the initial reactions I received in which other people were scandalised that I had cut my own hair. Me, cut my own hair! How dare I!
Why was their assertion that I had changed so frustrating? I had changed, but I had been changing for a long time, and that metamorphosis was long since complete. The hair hadn't done it. It took cutting off my hair to have other people reassess who I was as a person, how I fitted in socially with them, and to notice any difference between who they thought I was, and who I actually was. In short, they hadn't taken the time to know me, and the haircut had forced them to take a proper look at who they thought I was. They blamed 'the haircut' for the change, not their own error in judgement of me. I was often staring blankly at people thinking, 'how little do you know me?'
I was really overwhelmed by the aggression that was directed at me for the haircut. I was suddenly at the brunt of intense bullying, was called a lesbian and an attention seeker among many other names. It seemed that since I had robbed the people around me of a category to put me in, they were desperate to find a new one for me. Shaving my head at age 15 was done because I had already changed, the reaction of the people in my immediate circles set that change in stone.
I must admit, going as short as you see me today almost happened a few years ago, but my hairdresser and I fell in love with a bob cut halfway there and stopped. As much as I loved my previous cut, I am a curious creature and wanted to try this cut at least once. In a strange parallel with my previous short cut, some people I know didn't take it well and I have already been stunned by a range of insults and criticisms that weren't even behind my back. The thing about that is...
I'm a little chunky...
I have short little legs...
I doubt myself just as much as the next girl...
But suggesting that this haircut might diminish anything about me...
Is laughable and completely dismissible.
I mean, I just look trashy, old and haggard, don't I?
I know I'm not the only one who has experienced something like this. Whilst studying narrative, identify and the sense of 'self' and 'the other' during Uni, my classmates and I entered a lengthy discussion about this with people sharing similar experiences. One girl had died her hair red and noticed and immediate change in how her teachers treated her, another had lost a lot of weight and found people reacted completely differently to her opinions. All reported that the change had happen inside them first, and when other people noticed the external change their reactions were remarkable.
Jeans: High waisted skinny leg jeans by Dejour Jeans (in store only - Brunswick)
Belt: From Chitra's Closet (in store only - Brunswick)
Top: Might as Malvern Wells by Modcloth
Bag: Inherited from my Nan
Shoes: Worthy Original Heel by Chelsea Crew, available through Modcloth
Earrings: Bok Bok B'Gerk
Location: Northbridge, Perth
Photos: Stu Rapley
Have you had a metamorphosis? What's your story?
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