July 2, 2020
Bug’s Philosophy: Haircuts, Identity, and Validation
Haircuts, identity, and validationSource: The Burgundy Zine
As silly and as shallow as it may sound, a rockin’ haircut is more than just a confidence booster; it can validate your identity.
We all know what it’s like to emerge from under a sheen salon cape feeling rejuvenated — or completely crushed. The way 100,000 follicles that sprout from our scalp shape our face wields such overwhelming power over our self-esteem.
And yet, it’s just hair. You can shave it all off and it’ll grow back with the utmost amnesty. The beauty of a great haircut is ephemeral, the heartbreak of a botched cut is fleeting.
I avoided haircuts as a kid like they were kryptonite. Until the age of 14, I had only ever stubbornly sat, arms folded, in a hairdresser’s chair three or four times.
I sported a curly ombré that gracefully brushed my hips before my first “big chop.” The unforgettable curly bob trend was on the brink of fruition and I had fallen head over heels for the look.
Playing it safe, I opted for a longer version of the cut before going shorter and shorter. The less hair I had, the more liberated I felt.
That’s not to say long hair had me in shackles. I loved it for what it resembled throughout my childhood and early adolescence.
It was a subtle form of rebellion — although, I have to admit, no one was telling me I had to cut my hair. It was more of a personal rebellion, a testament to my stubborn nature and inability to trust a stranger with my locks.
I wasn’t always happy with the haircuts I got. As we all know, hair texture isn’t so cookie cutter. Mine is a blend of tight, loose, and thick ringlets up top (“2C through 3B” type hair) and practically pin-straight on the bottom.
Often times, the hairdressers I saw were scared of giving me layers or cutting the bottom too short because they assumed it would shrink like the curls atop my head do. I usually left the salon with a mullet that I’d have to tuck in towards my scalp with bobby pins at home.
But I didn’t care. Short hair made me feel closest to my authentic self.
Eventually, the hairdresser I trusted most took up a new life in Texas and I didn’t feel like going through a whirlwind of salon chairs to find someone else who understood my hair.
Plus, I began embracing more of my inner punk-rock Goddess around that time period. Long hair seemed to fit the ’80s-inspired aesthetic I had found comfort in at 16-years-old.
Taking a page out of rapunzel’s book, I let my hair grow — but I was constantly putting it up. When I wasn’t rocking overtly-high ponytails and headbands, I gravitated towards beanies and snapbacks.
Over time, I began to feel estranged from my identity. Who I was inside didn’t match how I was presenting myself.
I’ve always found comfort in more edgy, androgynous looks. My bubbly, bouncy ponytails clashed with my blazers and muscle T’s. I longed for the liberation short hair had once evoked within me.
After toying around with the idea for quite some time, I threw caution to the wind and bought myself a hairdressing kit from Amazon. I figured no one else knows my hair better than I do — and haircutting tutorial videos have been my guilty pleasure since middle school.
I took the leap. It was 4:00 a.m. and September had just dawned upon us last year. The air was thick and warm, but in a way that signals summer is drawing to a close.
Playing it safe, I went for a long, curly shag with sheep-dog bangs to blend out where the dreads my boyfriend put in my hair once framed my face.
Instantly, I felt closer to myself. The energy me, the one who radiates from the center of my rib cage and attempts to express itself through my fingertips as I type, write, or doodle.
True to form, I kept going shorter and shorter, experimenting with my hair — but something still felt… Off. It was too round, too bouncy, too… Curly-girly-cutsie.
While it would look adorable on someone else, it made me feel a bit frumpy at times. A bit like the “sweet, smart, but slightly unattractive nerdy best friend” archetype from a high school sitcom or cartoon.
I needed something angular, fierce — androgynous.
Taking inspiration from Ramona Flowers of “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” and Alice from the “Twilight” series, I hybridized an inverted bob with a pixie haircut.
Ramona Flowers in “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”Source: Ramona Flowers scenes | marcus muniz
I know, I know. A partially “Twilight” inspired haircut in 2020? Who the hell am I?
In my defense, I had been watching a lot of Synthetic Rose‘s meme-renditions of “Twilight” on YouTube… Now that I think about it, how I cut my hair is highly (yet subconsciously) influenced in part by the media I consume.
“Twilight is actually pretty funny”Source: Twilight is actually pretty funny | Synthetic Rose
For example, I accidentally gave myself George Harrison’s haircut a few months ago after watching compilations of The Beatles interviews.
Regardless of whatever came over my hands that evening, I cut my hair shorter than it had been in over five years. And I didn’t just feel “closer to me” this time around.
I finally felt like “me.” Not just an interpretation of the seemingly intangible, idealized version of myself. I had finally taken ahold of my identity.
A few days later, I dug out a black, cropped muscle-tank that I had banished to the “retired” corner of my closet. I paired it with Avril Lavigne-esque black bottoms, a snake belt from Nasty Gal, and rose embroidered Doc Martens.
I felt… confident — an odd, empowering sensation I had chalked up to a myth that only exists in movie screens.
I can’t help it. Be it as it may, my inner self feels validated by long, fluffy hair in the front with shaggy layers that fade into a very clean, short, sharp cut in the back.
Black clothes and cropped shirts suit me. I’m short, so a crop top falls just above where a t-shirt would on someone of average height. I often feel lost in my t-shirts because they almost reach my knees.
If I try to wear a t-shirt over my pants, I look like a pillow case. If I try to tuck them in, they spill over and create a silhouette that looks unflattering on my body.
Needless to say, finding your identity is but one piece of the puzzle that is self-acceptance. Learning to embrace your inner self physically and mentally is a whole other journey.
But the final destination makes it worth navigating the awkward ups, downs, ins, and outs. Identity is everchanging, just as our hair is.
Yet, hair is a central vehicle of self-expression. Grow it down passed your hiney just to shave it shiny. Experiment, innovate, and look within. Ask yourself: do I see me when I look in the mirror?
Interested in having content featured in an upcoming blog post or issue of The Burgundy Zine? Head on over to the submissions page!
For all other inquiries, please fulfill a contact form.