A colleague walked in on a cloudy Tuesday morning with 10 inches less hair than she had until Friday – the last time I saw her. She had her makeup on point, down to the angle of her subtle contour. I couldn’t decide whether I liked this new her or not. Had I seen her for the first time ever, I would have definitely approved. But after knowing her for six months with those beautifully highlighted tresses, I wasn’t so sure. Who was she? I was having an identity crisis, about our relationship.
Later, over salad with baked pumpkin and fresh soft figs (they are delicious, by the way), she mentioned that she broke up with her boyfriend of 19 months and 23 days last weekend. She needed a cleanse and this was her way of moving on.
It felt like déjà vu, as I had done something very similar a few years back (although my results were far less glamorous than hers). Imagine Madhuri Dixit haircut with dirty blonde highlights. Against tan skin. Shudder. Hard to believe but I have made my fair share of fashion Faux Pas. But always with 100% confidence that I look fabulous, despite my best friend’s not-so-subtle wake-up calls.
[I spent 20 minutes looking for a picture of Madhuri Dixit with bad hair, and couldn’t find a single one! I am not kidding. You can try yourself.]
Let’s dissect – does a hair makeover really work? Many women go for a makeover to help a wounded heart as it makes us feel like a new person. It is an attempt to detach from the pain of a failed relationship. We hope to see a new person, who is more in control and wise enough to make the choices that are best for them. It’s an attempt at outwardly reincarnation, to move on.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, clinical neuropsychologist and professor at Columbia University, explained, “Changing your hair can be a big statement. It may mean you announcing something without announcing it or signify a metamorphosis. It’s an instant statement that may actually make you feel like a new person.”
In addition, some also perceive a new haircut and colour, especially an edgy one, as an expression of defiance and breaking free of their ‘usual’ mould. Sarah confessed to Refinery29, “my hair was almost shoulder-length before the cut and I had been trying to grow it back out long because most people thought I looked ‘prettiest’ with long hair. Honestly, I was tired of being told that I looked better with long hair and that I wouldn’t look as ‘feminine’ if I cut my hair. I went for a short, versatile cut that was cute, but also a little edgy — and I felt liberated immediately after.”
But hair isn’t you only route forward. Different people cope with losses in many different ways. While some women (including myself) seek a hair makeover post trauma, there are many other ways to move forward – some women choose to turn to healthy lifestyles and lose oodles of weight. Others go a step further and start fresh – new place, new people, new life. It’s cathartic to be away from all that was once home but is now only a harbour for painful memories. And then there are those, who rebound before you can say, “it’s over”. That’s a defence mechanism, which subjects women to be judged mercilessly, but boy does it work. In the short run. ONLY.
Conclusively, Hafeez reminds us, “Shedding your hair may not equal out to shedding your problems. Process your emotions, sit with the pain, cry, get a trim, but don’t make any drastic changes until it’s passed — and it will pass.”