A Snip in the Wrong Direction

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A Snip in the Wrong Direction

Alyssa Jones

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My fingers fidget; my teeth lightly sink into my bottom lip as I settle into the salon chair. I attempt to push away the thoughts of worry that keep creeping in. The hairdresser prepares her instruments.

“How would you like your hair?” the blonde girl asks. She looks slightly too young to be cutting hair.

“I would just like a trim, really, no shorter than my shoulders and a tiny bit of layers towards the ends,” I respond. This is it. After the first snip, there is no turning back.

Shoulder-short hair seems to be the new style. Many women are engaging in it to give themselves a freeing, more manageable hairstyle. I knew I wanted my hair to be as I directed, and if it came out that way everything would be grand, but my haircuts always seem to become flawed. Half of the time, I want a trim, and then it is as if half my hair is gone.

Society has a set of guidelines, especially when it comes to a woman’s appearance. Some people tend to jump to conclusions based on something as simple as hair, whether they mean to or not. For example, if a girl has short hair, she may be perceived as a lesbian, or if her hair is blonde, she may be labeled as ditsy. If she wears her hair in a ponytail every day, she is not putting enough effort into her appearance.

I have had my hair dyed, cut and pinned up in multiple styles. When my hair is twisted up, some will assume it is a lazy day. When my hair was beaming blonde, everyone had a new blonde joke to share.

The hairdresser moves to face me, snipping away at the front of my hair.

“Is that too short? That is too short. Oh no.”

I jolt out of my thoughts at the horrifying words that slipped from her lips. Too short. Too. Short. The words rang through my mind.

“I’m so sorry! I hope you like it. At least it will grow back healthier,” she rambles on with a string of apologizes, trying to supplement her fault with words.  My shoulders tense up and heighten in the chair. My thoughts race; I want out of this chair, out of this building. I need to be away from her.

“It’s fine. It is just hair. It’ll grow back,” I say, trying to make her feel like it is not a big deal. When she turns away, my fingers pull at the ends of my hair, struggling to find the missing length. I itch for opinions, needing to know how people will react. I walk out of the salon with fingers crossed and hope for the best.

I am a teenage girl who is inevitably a puppet of society’s expectations. I would love to have that carefree, short hair, don’t care vibe, but it would be a facade.  I am not someone who has always found safety in my own skin, so when someone alters something major about my appearance, it is hard to cling to security. In today’s society, expectations for women can weigh us down. Every day, someone is trying to fulfill the need to be “perfect.” Sometimes, young girls starve themselves as victims of distorted body images or even physically harm themselves in an attempt to be “beautiful.” Even hair, something that seems simple, can completely alter how others perceive a girl.

Women in our society are encouraged to check themselves with every decision; one small “mistake” could lead to a ruined reputation. For so long, women were not granted a voice, and now that we have the right to speak, we have to be conscious of every action. There are reasons why women cloak themselves in makeup, not forgetting to coat a single eyelash in mascara, or why women spend extreme amounts of money on clothes: in some situations, if one thing is not up to standards, she will be the clown of the circus.

As I step through the doors on the first day of school, I smile, awaiting the impact of comments that may fly toward me about my new, shorter hair. Discreetly, I tug at a few end strands, beckoning them to grow.

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