May 05, 2012

Lesson 8: The Story of My Hair

Exactly two months after delivering my son, I got a hair cut for the first time in 2 ½ years. That is not an exaggeration, in fact, it could be an under-representation. This is ridiculous. Even my dad, who insists on getting his haircuts in Afghanistan for $2, could not believe this. He said something along the lines of “Katherine, what have you been doing these past two years that you haven’t been able to spare a minute for a haircut?” Hmm, let me think … raising a little girl, moving twice, being pregnant, giving birth, and completing two-thirds of my seminary degree to list a few major time swallowers.

This particular haircut was so fun. I was home in Harrisburg for a wedding with just the baby. I had already lost most of my pregnancy weight, bought a new dress, and just needed the finishing touch of a new haircut (and eye waxing). When the hairdresser was finished, I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, lighter. With six inches gone, you could barely tell the difference.

Looking at my new styled, healthy hair (that I flipped around for the whole day irritating my family) caused me to pause and reflect on significant haircuts in the past. I began to see a pattern developing. Indulge me a little as I tell you "The Story of My Hair."

I began to take control of my own hair at age 4.

As you can see here, age 3, my mother could not be trusted with the task. She can hardly be blamed, enduring curly hair her entire life. Thus, a daughter with fine, straight hair was an obvious challenge. Sometime around the taking of this photo, I declared with characteristic confidence that I was "growing my bangs out," a big step for a preschooler. That's what I did, and I have never looked back.

The next major event took place in third grade. Third grade was a bad year for my hair! It began the night before school picture day. I decided I needed silky, smooth hair for my photo and reasoned that Vaseline could best produce the desired results. I applied a large amount of the petroleum jelly, massaging thoroughly through, rinsed, and went to bed excited to see the outcome in the morning. As you can imagine, I woke up to soaking wet hair ... that was completely dry. Awful! My mom and I washed my hair five times that morning, but to no avail. It was a greasy mess and there was nothing to do. 

Actually, there was more to do. You see, in third grade, I was really in ponytails, but dreaded the bumps that came from using a comb. Thus, before the picture was shot, I first used some water in the bathroom to smooth the bumps out and then proceeded to seal it all with a layer of hair spray. I cannot even describe to you the horror of this picture, which was completed with a gap in my mouth where teeth should have been and a maroon turtleneck that totally washed me out. It was the year my mom decided to frame the school pictures and hang them up the stairs in the foyer. Awesome. 

Third grade was also the year I rocked a perm. Not. A. Good. Idea. 

Fast forward. Junior high or high school were uneventful, apart from summers spent soaking it with lemons in hopes of attaining "natural highlights." Also noteworthy, in my group of friends, length was everything. We spent numerous afternoons comparing the lengths of our hair. (This fact actually made Mark groan out loud). 

College is when things began to get interesting. It remained long until I realized that my high school boyfriend really was history. Gasp! Time for a change? Time to move on? Time for a haircut! I experienced the first signs of relief the second the scissors chopped. Above my chin it went. Unfortunately, in February, my skin was quite peaked, and the overall effect was not good. When I called my older brother crying, "I cut my hair and I look so ugly," his compassionate response was, "seriously, and you called me. Katherine, I don't care. I have to go." Haha, older brothers. It looked something like this, though this picture is a bit later and thankfully I am a little tan.

I regained my cool and except for the time I attempted dreads, college proceeded with ease. By the time I graduated it was back to its glorious length. See how confident I look. I'm a senior, dating an awesome guy (Mark), ready to take on the world. Thus, long hair.

 Yet, after graduation the real awkwardness of life sets in. Within a year, Mark and I had broken up and I moved to Ireland. New phase? New place? Chop!

Look at my young, single, Euro-haircut. Super cool.

Unfortunately, Mark and I got back together five months later with a ceremony looming in the near future, which meant no time to make my lifelong dream of having really long hair at my wedding a reality. I willed it to grow faster, but on the big day, it looked like this. (Sidenote: It was not unfortunate that Mark and I got back together. That was great. It was unfortunate that my hair was short.)

The week after our wedding, we moved to Lugano, Switzerland for four months to work as RAs for a study abroad program. It was a paid European honeymoon! However, shortly after, it finally hit me that I was married. Seriously, married? For-ev-er? I freaked out. Can you guess what happened next?

This chop was especially devastating, because, two weeks later, the pregnancy test came back positive! Not only was my body going to look really weird, but my hair did too! I'm going to show you a post-pregnant picture now. It is not cute! I know this. I blame most of it on the cushing (a lot of water retention), but the hair did not help the situation!

The delivery of my daughter was whirlwind, but when things slowed down a bit, a good friend treated me to a haircut. She was hoping to help me regain a bit of normalcy. This cut on 10.10.09 would be my last until a few weeks ago. Here is what 32 months of non-stop growing will to do to a person. (Please ignore the morning cowlick on the left side of the picture).

And so, we arrive at the present.

As I sat in the chair that day, I pondered the cause of my two year haircut hiatus. In reviewing my history, I noticed a cycle. Most of my haircuts came when I needed a tangible way to cope with a change in my life. Break-up ... chop ... moving ... chop ... marriage ... chop! Baby ... no chop?

Perhaps, once I became a parent there was no longer a place for me to be so emotional and eradicate. It was now my time to be rational, calculating, slow to react, less easily frazzled. I wonder if I was reverting back to my high school definition of beauty which equaled long hair. I know that I had bigger priorities for my precious spare time, including decorating my house. Who knew haircuts could have such a psychological dimension? Regardless, as of now, the plan is to get my next haircut sometime before 2015.

I'm curious, has this caused you to consider what your hair history says about you?

Lesson Learned: My hair dresser told me never to braid my hair wet. It can cause all sorts of breakage.


  1. love this! i usually do an emotional chop also. many of my mom friends and I have had this conversation because I am the only one who post baby has not chopped my hair! they all have chopped their hair above there ears which I call the mom cut. They are betting on when I will cut mine which is down to my butt almost because they say an ew baby will pull your hair and they couldn't stand it always getting in the way! But i am holding out because I think long hair is the epitome of beauty and i love it! They are also betting on when i will give up dangly(sp?) earrings.........

    1. Haha, so funny! I'm so glad you can relate! I do remember you having super long hair! Babies do pull ... and then you teach them they are not allowed to do that! I'm not sure about earrings, never did get my ears pierced, but I can imagine that hurting pretty bad. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Hi! :) I'm SO excited that you blog, haha. It's so fun! :) Anywho, I am the same way with my hair. I make changes to it when something in my life changes. Sort of like how I had super blonde hair until moving to Charlotte & Van starting it's dark brown! :)


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