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Bug’s Philosophy: Haircuts, Identity, and Validation

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By: burgundy bug

Haircuts, identity, and validation

Source: 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.

For once, I didn’t feel like a stranger in the flesh-covered vessel that keeps me tethered to this planet.

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?

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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