I'm what most people like to affectionately refer to as Type A. That is, I second-guess every decision, weigh all my options extensively, then brainstorm back-up plans in case something goes wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s takeout or taxes; nothing goes unanalyzed. This Type-A behavior also carries over to my hair, which I’ve always felt is a key part of my identity. For as long as I can remember, it's been medium-length, brown, thick, and naturally curly — and almost everyone I know has, at one point or another, sung the praises of my genetic blessing. Therefore, it’s something I’ve become very particular about keeping exactly the same, for obvious reasons. Still, this past winter, I found myself perusing Pinterest every chance I could, falling more and more in love with short, curly haircuts. They were totally out of my comfort zone, but I was still mesmerized. Their saving grace? They all looked legitimately easy to maintain. So, I joined the 30 million pinners engaging with hair-related pins ("short hairstyle" is the number-two searched term) by putting together a board. Finally, I scheduled (and canceled) appointments at three different salons before finally committing to my big chop with Dickey at Hair Rules in New York.
When I arrived at the salon, I felt a
little lot anxious at having such a major change take place somewhere new. I had never met Dickey — though I’d heard amazing things — and there’s always something vaguely uncomfortable about having an unfamiliar stylist touch your hair. Then again, he had been recommended by the best beauty team I know (R29, duh) so I let my apprehension slip away to be replaced by a buzzing excitement.
Once an assistant had shampooed and conditioned my locks, I was plopped in a chair in front of a mirror, where I waited patiently until Dickey arrived and warmly introduced himself. When he asked what I was looking for, I pulled up my top three example inspiration pins on my phone. “It’s gonna look great!” he said. “I can totally see this looking amazing on you.” But when he picked up the scissors and confidently started snipping away, I immediately felt my heart fall into my stomach. I actively struggled to blink back tears as at least six inches were chopped off and spread on the floor. I may or may not have actually blacked out for the majority of the experience — at least that's what it felt like. Every time I heard the scissors snip, I flinched. When I finally left the salon, I barely got 10 steps before I deteriorated into a puddle of tears, dialing a close friend and admitting the one major flaw in my plan.
You see, in my delirious Pinterest binge, I sort of forgot to take into consideration what a jarring change it would be. I just kept thinking, My hair is the right texture for that, and, Those girls look so cute! I didn’t emotionally prepare myself, research how to style short curls, or even communicate to Dickey that I had never gone short before. And, full disclosure, I sort of assumed that Dickey would go longer than the pins I provided, since that’s what every other stylist has done for my entire life. Luckily, I did a good job at smiling for the horrifying "after" selfie above, but it was a long, emotional subway ride home.
Now, for the good news: I had also forgotten that haircuts often need time to settle into place — and let's be honest, sometimes you need to settle, too. By the time I got back to my apartment and looked in my bedroom mirror — eyes dramatically bloodshot and feeling vaguely headache-y from stress — my “'disastrous' new ‘do looked...amazing. Honestly, I don’t even know how it was the same haircut: It was the happy place between pixie and wavy bob that I had asked for. Somehow, I hadn't even noticed how rad my new cut was. Naturally, I took selfies, sent snaps, and apologized to my dad for inundating him with texts about never leaving my apartment again. I even found an excuse to run errands so that I could be seen in public. I felt that good.
The real test came when I slept on it — and woke up to find my curls transformed into easy waves. It was exactly as I’d hoped for since pinning my first curly crop! Sure, I wasn’t used to the weightless volume, but this new length also made me look more awake and effortlessly chic. In the following weeks, I had an excuse to experiment with dozens of hair products and learn how to use hot tools — something I never cared about before. But the best part is that I had never felt more confident in my life. Now that I’ve had some distance from the decision, I’m actually really glad I put my Type-A ways aside and rushed into it. While I wish I had been more prepared to learn how to style the new shape, I’m not sure I would have gone through with it if I had waited a little longer (or known about the emotional roller coaster ahead of me). Plus, it’s grown into the perfect curly bob! Now, I owe Pinterest a thank you for the best haircut I never thought I’d get. And also, Dickey: You changed my life — so please pardon the near-tears goodbye.