How to go short and make it work
The first time I cried over a haircut was when my mom had it chopped off for the summer. Para raw hindi magka-kuto. She gave me a boy’s cut. I went straight to the bathroom when we got home and cried. I was seven.
I remember crying over it for several days after because my playmates would comment on it. So, I put a cap on backwards, threatened to punch whoever cracked a joke about it, and grew it out.
The next time I cried over a haircut was when I was in the seventh grade. I was given another variation on the boy’s cut for my grad pic. I was hopeful. Maybe my 13-year old self could handle it.
Until I saw the actual photos.
I cried because I would be commemorated on our yearbook looking like a boy in a girl’s uniform. I wasn’t built like the other girls with their skinny bodies. I thought I looked like an awkward boy. I already felt unattractive as it was, adding short hair to the equation made it worse. I think I threw out all copies of those photos.
I never cut my hair that short again for a long while after.
Short hair requires a strength of character and semblance of self assurance that I did not yet have back then.
In 2011, I went through a break-up that ushered in major changes. It was the same year I shifted to freelance work and started apprenticing for hair and makeup. My mentor gave me a brief peptalk on the importance of physical change as a tool to aid any other changes in life. I handed her a pair of scissors and trusted her to do whatever she wanted to with my hair.
Call it cliché, but I loved the result. It was liberating. I felt like I had a fresh perspective on things. It was so different from what I was known for and accustomed to for 11 years.
As Coco Chanel put it, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”
Along with that haircut came other changes. I became a full-time freelancer soon after, got my first tattoo, did a whole lot of other things that I was afraid of doing. I went out of my comfort zone with the way I looked and the way I was living my life.
People often take for granted how important a role hair plays in the way we perceive ourselves.
We limit judgment on outer appearances based on what others see, but we fail to notice how it also makes a difference on how we feel. If you feel good about the way you look, it increases the positivity you feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself, the more it also shows on the outside.
I kept the short hair for several years as I got accustomed to my new lifestyle. Grow it out, cut it. Grow it out, cut it. “Hair will always grow back,” I would tell myself. That became my little way to embrace change. An exercise in adjusting and resiliency, so to speak.
Two years ago, I decided to just grow it out. Stop dyeing it blonde and stuck to dark colors and tints. I wanted to give my hair a rest and felt like I needed something more feminine for a change. It also signaled a time in my life when I was more at ease with being freelance.
I kept that hair for a long time, cut it whenever I was going through something emotionally draining, but never to the point of it being cropped like a boy cut again. For two years it was like that.
Going short never crossed my mind until I went through another break-up recently and wanted to speed up the process of recovery. So I went back to short, dyed hair. Drastic enough to create a clear delineation between what had happened and what is.
So, I decided to speed up the changes and let myself actively work through the process.
I’m also back to pushing my new-found comfort zone a bit further. I realize that I had already adjusted to the new normal that I got accustomed to after my initial decision to go short. That perhaps this was the way to re-orient myself and find new ways to grow once more.
It is empowering to make drastic changes to something we usually take for granted, like hair. Drastic changes give us room to exercise adjusting to new things and facing our fears.
But, no matter how drastic going short hair from long is — there is a way to ease into the decision.
Here are some of my tips for going short:
• Start off by choosing a style that you feel comfortable with. The shortest length that you feel comfortable committing to. I went for a bob from my long hair (just above the bra-line). My hair had been long for a while and I was nervous about the switch. So I had to do it gradually. A bob is pretty safe to get at any salon. It is a basic hairstyle that most hairdressers can pull off.
• When you have gotten used to your hair being short, and you’re ready to make it shorter, go for the cut. Once you grow it out, it will be harder to ease into the shorter hairstyle again. If you’ve decided, go for it and don’t hesitate. HAIR WILL ALWAYS GROW BACK. You won’t ever know unless you do it.
• Choose hair pegs that match your face and hair type. Don’t pick out a photo of someone with a heart-shaped face if your face is round. Don’t pick out a photo of someone with straight hair when your hair is wavy or curly. If you have trouble visualizing a hairstyle, choose pegs that also reflect the same hair color. Things will not turn out anything like the photo if you choose something that does not match your own face and hair.
• Understand that most photos you save as pegs will have some sort of styling and product applied to it already to achieve that particular look.
• Don’t take it out on your hairdresser if your hair does not come out anything like the photo you showed. They will work with what they have to best reflect your chosen style on a photo. Give them room to adjust the style to what suits you. Trust that they know what they are doing, because they do.
• Find a reputable salon and hairdresser. Do your research. If you are going for a safe haircut like a bob or a trim, any salon should be able to manage it. But if you are going for short hair, do research. It takes a long time for short hair to grow back to a length that you can experiment with. I would not risk it, because wearing a cap until it grows out is not an option I would consider. I got my hair cut with Sir Dennis (IG: @PagliawanDennis) of The Jing Monis Salon in B Hotel, along Scout Rallos. Their number is +639173148533.
• Don’t be afraid to converse with your hairdresser. Tell them what you want and be firm with it. Ask if they have any suggestions and debate if you need to. Even after the haircut. If you are not satisfied, do bring it up. If you want any more changes, bring it up. It is your hair. You will be the one to deal with it for months after you walk out of the parlor. But respect your hairdresser’s opinion and consider it as well. For example, I actually wanted my hair shorter and asked if it would look nice on me. The hairdresser told me not to if I wanted to still look feminine, which was what I initially requested – a short cut that would still make me look feminine. Another friend went to the same hairdresser and wanted bangs, he suggested that she skip it because it would make her face look rounder. Listen and adjust if necessary, but also be firm with what you want.
• I wanted to find the hairdresser that would be able to do wonders with my hair the way my mentor used to when she would cut it. I find it difficult to find a hairdresser that works well with wavy and curly hair. Most haircuts are done with the idea of styling them after. This is why whenever they insist on blowdrying my hair after a haircut, I request that they do it the way my hair would normally dry on its own. Request for this if you want to see how it would look like on a wash and wear basis. Hairdressers can give you tips on how to style your hair the quickest way possible if you opt for this. Before I got into hair and makeup, I used to love my hair post-parlor because of how it would look so sleek and shiny after getting blowdried, then I realized how frustrated I would get the next day if it didn’t look the same after taking a shower. Let’s be realistic and embrace how we would normally fix our own hair.
• Love your hair and enjoy it! No matter how it turns out, remember that hair always grows back. Life is too short to waste time thinking about an unexplored hairstyle. Go for that haircut.