How do I deal with a bad haircut?

How do I convince myself that it's just hair and that it shouldn't matter?

A PERFECT GEM:

Disclaimer: I am aware that this problem is extremely ridiculous and does not matter in the great scheme of things and there are SO MANY way worse things going on in this hellfire we call a world.

Anyway. I had a really bad haircut. I had really long curly hair, and I hadn't had it cut in nearly two years because of money/lockdown/etc. It was looking kinds gross at the ends and the salons in the UK are open again so I decided to get it cut just to make it healthier. But it went wrong. There's already been too much cut off so I can't go back to the hairdresser to get it fixed. It looks so bad and I am so upset and afterwards couldn't stop crying about it.

I felt so stupid the whole time because it seems like such a ridiculous thing to be upset about, but I feel like my hair is a big part of my identity. I hated it for most of my teenage years and after starting to grow it out when I was 18 or so, I finally felt in a place in the last few years (I'm 25 now) where I really fell in love with my hair. It's the main part of my body that I actually like rather than just thinking 'eh, it's okay' and I feel like I can no longer go out feeling confident in how I look. I know that it will grow back, but I don't know how to deal with 6 months or more of feeling ugly and disgusting when I look in the mirror. How do I convince myself that it's just hair and that it shouldn't matter? How can I learn to somehow like it and feel confident without having to just tie it up every day and try to forget about it? Heeeeeeeelp!

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SOPHIA:

Ok, you spent almost all of your letter belittling your own emotions. I’m sure it felt necessary to do to some extent because, as you acknowledge, The World is Bad and this is not the biggest deal, but GOOD LORD, YOU STILL HAVE FEELINGS!! And they’re valid and normal! The global rise of the far right doesn’t mean you don’t still feel insecure about your job sometimes. Climate change doesn’t mean you don’t feel guilty about the time you lied to your mom. The pandemic doesn’t mean a bad haircut won’t make you feel like shit.

The job isn’t to convince yourself that it’s just hair and it doesn’t matter. You caring about your appearance doesn’t make you small or shitty. It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you’ve decided that other people who are struggling or starving aren’t important because your haircut sucked. You’re simply sad and insecure about your bad haircut!!!! Please PLEASE please please do not add “guilty for being sad and insecure about your bad haircut” to the list of bad feelings you’re feeling. You’re already feeling bad enough!

A bad haircut is bad!!! I have had two very very bad haircuts in my life, one that included SHORT—like inch long—bangs. That haircut came when I was in 6th grade when I already deeply loathed my body for being overweight with horrible acne and glasses and braces. I hated my appearance so much and the ONE thing I had going for me was the absolute thickest most beautiful hair and then someone at Great Clips went and fucked me over. It was AWFUL. Horrendous. I still remember my mom taking me right away to a drug store to go buy headbands and clips to try to mitigate the horribleness. Did it get better after a few months? Sure. But that does not at all take away from the shame and embarrassment I felt at the time. It was bad! It felt bad! I imagine you’re experiencing something similar right now.

Let yourself mourn! I know it sounds…silly…to mourn hair, but let yourself be sad without beating yourself up. Let yourself whine and piss and moan about it (to yourself!!! Not to other people—other than complaining 1-3 times to your mom or your best friend or something). Let yourself be dramatic if you wish. Set a timer for five minutes and go look in the mirror and catalog everything you specifically hate about this haircut. Get a journal and write down every single thing that you’re feeling. Feel free to be as catastrophic as you’d like! (E.g., “I feel sad that the one thing I felt confident about is gone!”)

And then keep going on with your life. The world doesn’t stop when we’re grieving, which is both fucked up and also a gift. You will have good times with this haircut, I swear to you. You will cook good pasta or find a wonderful book at a second hand shop that becomes your favorite or you’ll kiss a hunk or you’ll find bedazzled cowboy boots on sale for $25!!! (Or pounds or whatever fake money they have over in the UK!) You will have many, many moments where your brain is not fixated on your hair.

You will also feel sad about it sometimes. One piece of perhaps good news is that we’re all in a pandemic and seeing each other less! I’m sure there are many many worse times in your life for a bad haircut. If you had to get a bad haircut any time, this might be a good one! I’m not saying you should be grateful, I’m just saying ALL humans get bad haircuts because we’re dopes. It’s ok. It’s human. If you find a moment or two to laugh about it—about how bad it is, how much you hate it, how funny it is that you’re caught up on your HAIR of all things—GREAT. Seize that. Enjoy the absurdity of how much we all care about our appearance.

But mostly, be kind to yourself. This isn’t some grand lesson that you need to learn about how your appearance doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t care. Caring about your appearance is lovely and normal. This isn’t a punishment. This isn’t to teach you patience and acceptance. If you get those things from this, great! Well done, you! It’s a bad haircut. It fucking sucks. We’ve all been there.

As a tip, I would take a photo of this haircut—yes, I know—and when you do decide to cut your hair again in a few years, take it with you to the salon and be explicit. “I had a really really bad haircut a while back and I want to be clear that I do NOT want it ever again. Here is a photo of the hair cut I hated. And now here is a photo of what I want.” Let them know you’re wary of salons for good reason, and make sure the hair cutter understands what you’re asking for.

You will recover from this. You will have long, glorious hair again. You will have fun and laughter in the meantime. I’m sure—even if you aren’t—that you look gorgeous right now and that the consequences of this bad cut are felt more acutely by you than by anyone else. Everyone else is walking around thinking about how their thong is too far up their ass or wondering if they forgot to feed the cat this morning. I swear we don’t notice much.


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