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Hair Cuts, Hair Care, and Self-Loathing

July 15, 2012

In the past week I have made two appointments to have someone cut my hair and canceled both of them. When I’ve brought it up in conversation, people have been very fervent that I either cut it away like I’d planned or never ever cut it again because it’s awesome. The very fact that I feel the need to make a Facebook poll and ascertain from my friends whether or not I should chop my locks is interesting enough (in the whole “I care more about what they think than how I feel” sort of way). But even more entertaining/disgusting about the whole situation is that I even consider it a situation and that it is consuming such a large amount of my worry quota of the day!

Then I got to thinking about the larger issue of women and hair. IT’S IMPORTANT. Terrifyingly important. And we spend amazing amounts of money to get exactly what we want. If you haven’t seen Chris Rock’s (surprisingly) wonderful comedy-documentary of “black hair culture” titled Good Hair, I suggest you watch the trailer here  immediately. It’s marketed as a comedy and at turn is indeed funny, but is actually a fairly wonderful portrayal of how important hair is to people. I’m not black, but the reason the documentary was so great is that it struck a nerve with how self-absorbed some women (*cringe* including myself) can be about their hair.

When discussing my potential cut with a friend recently, I stopped my tirade of confusion and angst for a moment to realize that people are dying, going hungry, involved in civil wars in their country and I can’t just get over myself already and not care so much (see: the  self-loathing clause in blog title).

My ever growing collection of “maybe shorter” images, two of which are a before/after of myself. Bonus: I have now realized why Pinterest is helpful in life.

In a week I will begin a new job, full of the data-entry and cold calling that is to be eagerly accepted and excited about right out of the college world. I couldn’t be more ecstatic. But what am I worried about almost more than I am worried over being awesome at this newfound employment? Yup, my hair.

I want to appear professional but not feel like I’m chopping off a part of myself. I want to not regret this cut like I have so many before. More than anything, I want to care LESS. Ms. Magazine recently ran a series on objectification in the media. Their third installment was a list of things we need to stop doing to be healthier, happier individuals. How much of how I feel about my hair is actually wrapped up in how I think others perceive me?

Ever heard of self-objectification? Well, it’s this terrible little term coined in 1997 that is most basically the act of objectifying yourself, looking in the mirror and not seeing you but rather, seeing you as you think society sees you. There is an awesome look into self-objectification in geek culture over at geekfeminism.org that shows just how convoluted the topic can be. But these days, every time I look in the mirror I wonder how much of how I see me is actually me seeing me as I think other people see me? You follow?

It makes the “to cut/not to cut” conundrum far from an easy answer, especially when you can’t afford extensions.

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