The Long Road to Short Hair (True) (Parts 3-4)

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Author’s Note: While events in this story are true, names have been changed.

PART THREE – THE PLAN RESETS

Despite the unflattering chin length bob, I still yearned for a pixie cut.

I completed my Undergraduate Degree and was due to transfer to a different university for my Master’s Degree. The summer before starting my Master’s I was fixated with the idea of reinventing my image before the semester started. Here finally was the chance to completely shake the image of me as a long haired girl. I wanted to start the semester as ‘the girl with the pixie cut’.

And finally I was.

As it was the summer holidays I went back to my local salon and Lynette. Armed with my chosen picture loaded on my phone, I nervously sat down and asked for a pixie cut. While I opted for a slightly longer style I also knew I wanted my ears visible.

The end result was…honestly I don’t know. I think I liked it. The style definitely took some getting used to. But while I didn’t hate it like I did with the chin length bob there wasn’t the ‘wow’ moment I’d had with my shoulder length cut. A lot of people said a pixie cut suited me but I wasn’t necessarily convinced. Looking back now I’m not sure I picked the best style of pixie cut for me.

To this day my biggest regret with getting a pixie cut wasn’t that I got it but that I didn’t experiment more when I had it. After the start of the semester I wanted to get one more haircut before deciding if a pixie cut was truly for me or if I should grow my hair out.

What followed was probably the worst haircut I’ve ever had – far from a great confidence booster. New university, new salon, new stylist. This stylist fell into the category of ‘give them a quick trim no matter what they ask for’. I’d asked to keep the front of my hair the same as I liked the short wispy bangs I currently sported but to take it short everywhere else. Instead the stylist didn’t touch either the front or the top of my hair at all. And after I’d noticed her taking the tiniest amount off the back and sides I requested more taken off. My mistake. After a rough centimetre and a half was lopped of the back and sides I was left with a young Justin Bieber style haircut that was leaning towards mushroom cut vibes.

After I left the salon I was very tempted to walk straight into another salon and ask for a drastic cut. But what if my hair turned out even worse than what it currently was? So I resisted the urge and pledged to grow my hair back to shoulder length.

Anyone who has ever grown out a pixie cut knows how bad those awkward in between lengths are – when you just have to accept having a non-style for many long months. It took a long time but eventually, finally my hair was back at my shoulders.

Disheartened with my short hair adventures I switched back to alternating my shoulder length hair line between straight and inverted. I still desperately obsessed with the idea of having a pixie cut but at the time I couldn’t face the prospect of having to grow one out again.

I began to wonder if this was it. Would my hair just stay at this rough shoulder length for the rest of my life?

Fortunately it was then I remembered a teenage fantasy where I could have both long and short hair – an undercut. My hair was now long enough again where an undercut wouldn’t be visible if my hair was down. Even better my annoyingly thick hair was actually perfectly suited for an undercut. And I could experience clippers on my head for the first time – another old obsession.

So filled with courage and nervous excitement, I went to my trusted stylist Lynette and made my request. She was very excited at the prospect of creating an undercut only I wish she’d told me before I sat in her chair that she’d never actually done one before. This goes a long way to explaining why, instead of a straight line across my nape like I’d asked, I was left with a severe triangular section cut out of the back of my hair. The widest section was at the base of my nape and the point of the triangle ended about an inch and half below my crown.

The good points: I loved and still love having an undercut. It feels amazing and that first time it was a major thrill getting entire locks of hair shaved from my head. The bad point: the shape of that first undercut was not great. But unlike some of my past haircuts I refused to be discouraged.

After that I tried a couple of new salons and while I always left with nice haircuts I kept encountering the same words: ‘ooh an undercut, I’ve never done one of those before’. Surely it couldn’t be that hard to find a stylist who was familiar with undercuts?

But what if it was? Most women don’t walk into salons and ask for the clippers to be let loose on their hair. That’s when I realised where I was going wrong. I needed a barbershop, not a salon. But while I fantasised about it, I could never quite bring myself to casually stroll into a barbershop in front of staring male customers and ask a male barber to take his clippers to my hair. I was far too shy for that.

Instead I researched unisex barbershops and found a surprising number in range of where I could travel to. I had pretty much decided where I wanted to go when lockdown happened before I could make an appointment.

Because I was waited so long trying to find the right barbershop, my undercut was already in desperate need of a cut at the start of lockdown. Without any clippers in the house I resorted to hacking off chunks of hair at my nape. I’m sure it looked terrible but during that time I didn’t care.

When things started opening up again and the prospect of proper haircuts was once more available, I decided to first make another attempt at cutting my undercut with scissors and using my fingers as a guide. I did a somewhat better job second time around. I just didn’t want to make it super obvious to a new stylist/barber that I’d chopped a load of my hair off.

One year after I originally intended I was finally able to book an appointment at the unisex barbershop. To my delight the barber Kieron was unfazed by my undercut requests. He also shaped my undercut. At last the sharp triangle was gone! Still the same shape it is today, my undercut was and is now a high curved line that starts at the back of each ear.

Delighted I began planning my next haircut goal. A high inverted bob that revealed my undercut. I waited until the top sections of hair were roughly the same length, just above my shoulders. Now my next hair transformation could begin.

Or rather it could have done if I hadn’t relied on a holiday haircut. I was impatient and didn’t want to wait and it was a family holiday and my mother had offered to pay for the cut. Yeah I should have waited. Unfortunately this stylist interpreted my instructions of ‘please redo my undercut and I’d love a high bob that’s shorter at the back and longer at the front’ to mean ‘please add a lot of really short and uneven layers to my hair’.

Sigh.

Fast forward to November 2021. During lockdown my local salon had closed down so it was to Kieron that I went for my current dream haircut.

I had planned this haircut to reach my shoulders at the front and then, if I liked the style when it was finished, next time I’d brave another chin length bob. I never told any of this to Kieron but perhaps he had read my mind because, unlike the reference picture I had shown him, at its longest point my hair only reached my chin.

I did immediately panic upon seeing my reflection, remembering the woeful chin length bob of my student days. But, as it turns out, now combined with an undercut, I actually quite liked how a chin length bob looked on me. This definitely gave me encouragement me to reactivate my ‘go short in stages’ haircut plan.

One thing I didn’t realised about the picture I’d shown Kieron was that that bob featured several layers, whereas I’d imagined a blunt sharp look. The error was mine but I was annoyed to have finally lost the irregular layers only to receive new ones. Although mercifully these layers were a lot softer, nowhere near as short and actually complimented my new look.

So for 2022 the plan was simple – every haircut would take my hair gradually shorter. No backing out and this time a pixie cut was not going to be the final stage. I was determined to also experiment with shaved haircuts before eventually growing my hair out a bit. I still wanted a blunt more dramatic version of the high inverted bob I currently had. After that did I get an ear length bob or jump straight to a bowl cut? If I got a bowl cut would it be fun to try a Chelsea cut before I finally committed to an ultra short shaved pixie cut?

Since lockdown I’d also lucked out in another way. A new barbershop had opened near where I lived. Even though the owner, Nora, only offered typically ‘men’s haircuts’ she was more than happy to cut my undercut for me. It gave me an affordable and local place where I could regularly get my undercut maintained. I also knew that Nora would help me when I was ready to move onto my shaved hairstyles.

PART FOUR – FUTURE PROMISES

It’s now March 2022 and my hair plans have once more been interrupted – although for a nice reason this time.

One of my best friends announced that she was getting married at the end of the year and asked if I would be her bridesmaid. I happily agreed although I later realised that with my hair timeline I would probably have a shaved pixie cut at the time of the wedding.

Now my friend is awesome and she’s no stranger to experimenting with her hair length and colour. If I’d announced a week before the wedding that I intended to shave my head completely bald I genuinely think she’d be cool with that. While I’m not about to become a bald woman I did start to wonder if I should have that ultra short hair for the wedding. What if I didn’t like it but had to have numerous photos taken of myself with a haircut I was uncomfortable with.

I know I’m going to keep the undercut (that part I definitely love) but I realised it might be more fun to grow the rest my hair to my shoulders for the wedding. Then I can play around with different up-dos and braided styles for the big day. And the week after the wedding I can have my locks sheared off.

Just last week I indulged in one last short haircut before the growing out stage begins. Kieron took me back to a high inverted bob – undercut on display of course. Still not a blunt cut but this time I didn’t mind the blended layers.

Later in the year I’ll get the top sections of my hair cut to the same horizontal straight length. Then I’ll just see how long my hair gets before the wedding.

I’ve already decided that I’ll make an appointment with Kieron the week after the wedding and have some fun with a new look. I know that by the end of 2022 I want to have my undercut extended. At the moment only my nape is shaved and I really want to experience having the sides shaved too. I don’t know exactly what length I’ll choose for the rest of my hair but probably long enough to cover the undercut just while I get used to the new style.

This longer length will also help keep my head warm during winter for the next part of my plan. The shortest my undercut has ever been is a number one guard. A few weeks after this first haircut I plan to ask Nora to shave the back and sides down all the way – zero guard.

After that I’ll have to wait and see how I feel, but I hope I get the chance to try an ear length bob for the first time and fully show off my ultra short undercut!

Before I reach my final shaved pixie cut goals I do want to try tempting fate (or at least inviting fate) to play a part in a future haircut.

Is a surprise haircut a surprise haircut if I’m orchestrating elements of it? Maybe not. But this how I imagine it happening.

By this point my hair will be at my ears. I’ll walk into Nora’s barbershop who’ll ask what length I’d like my undercut. By answer I’ll show her an image on my phone, explain that I’m looking to change my hairstyle again, and ask her what length would best match the image.

I don’t know yet what haircut the image will show – maybe a bowl cut, maybe a Chelsea cut, maybe a pixie cut.

This is the invitation.

Will Nora think this is what I’m planning for my next haircut or what I want my hair to be on that day? What happens next will decide what haircut I get. Either I leave with just my undercut re-shaved or with an entirely new look.

Of course in my fantasy version of this scenario Nora decides to cut my hair exactly like the picture and before I can blink or say a word I suddenly have bangs across my forehead and clippers running over the top of my head. Then Nora asks if the length is ok or do I want to go shorter. Naturally my hair is quickly reduced to the softest of stubble.

In reality I’m sure Nora would never take the clippers to my hair without asking first but its fun to imagine what if.

Then finally, at some point I plan to explore a range of shaved styles. I don’t know exactly what they’ll be yet but I vow to resist the urge to grow my hair out until I’ve experienced multiple styles. Who knows I might even choose to keep one for a while.

But that’s all a long way in the future. For now all that’s left to say is:

To Be Continued December 2022.

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