Making the cut (column)

GT Magazine , October 2016

Cutting your hair

Walking into the yoga studio, it was impossible not to notice.
The teacher standing behind reception, who I see about once a week, had a haircut. Although, that’s not really doing the change justice. Previously, long waves cascaded mermaid-like over her shoulders and down her back. Now, her shoulders, her neck and even her ears were bare. Naked. Nothing.
“Wow!” I said, the instant she looked up. “I love it!” And I meant it. Not only did the stylish boy-short cut totally suit her, but it’s hard not to admire that kind of bravery. I loved the look and I loved the courage so much that I actually had to stop myself uttering the phrase, ‘you go girl’. I know.
A moment later I had an echo. “I love it, I love it, I love it,” my fellow yoginis chanted one after the other as they bounded through the door.
But the teacher didn’t smile.
“Hmmm. It’s alright,” she said. “I needed a change.”
And that’s when it dawned on me. She’d had The Cut. You know. The one where you go through some kind of life-changing crisis (often heart-breaking and involving tears and ice cream) and you decide the only way forward is to shed the old you and remerge as the strong and sexy butterfly you are deep inside.
I asked her. She nodded. It was definitely The Cut.
I’ve done it.
I didn’t plan The Cut. I didn’t even make an appointment. It just sort of happened.
About three years ago my locks tumbled down past my shoulders. I’d been growing them for years and I loved my long hair. Then (cliché alert) I had some minor issues in the boyfriend-not-really-my-boyfriend department which coincided with quitting my job so I booked a one-way ticket to Europe (so very original) and before I knew it I was strutting into the nearest hair salon.
I vividly remember the look in the hairdresser’s eyes. Before I’d spoken a word his face lit up, oversized scissors at the ready. He knew. Maybe it was my walk.
“Cut it all off,” I said.
Before long, chunks of hair littered the tiles and I was staring in the salon mirror at the new me.
And I hated it.
Okay, hate’s a strong word but I wasn’t a huge fan. I mean, I was glad that I’d done it. I didn’t want to take it back. But it was just such a big change! And doing something so spontaneous wasn’t like me at all. Which, of course, was the whole point.
So, good.
I was glad.
But, but, but, it was so short!
I was one big contradiction.
Because what you realise when you have The Cut is that it’s not about the hair. It’s a way of coping with whatever life-changing drama you’re going through – and that’s not something you can resolve in 30-minute salon session.
The Cut won’t make you feel better but it’s a step in the right direction. Because The Cut is a statement. It says, I’m taking action. I’m taking control. And the more time went by, the more I started to feel control over my own life again, the more I began to love my hair. It was the new me, and I liked the new me.
“Well, I think it looks awesome,” I told my yoga teacher, with the type of smile that I hoped said ‘I know I don’t even know your last name or anything else about you but it’s going to be all good because I’ve been there and… and… you go girl!’
She smiled back. “I guess I’ll get used to it.”

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