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The Pixie Cut

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Growing up I always had long hair. A long curly mess of brown and blonde ringlets. Beautiful was usually the word that people used to describe it. However, baby me, despised the curls entirely. Even my beloved grandmother, who just might be my favorite person on the planet, couldn't make brushing my hair bearable. My grandmother tugged hard at the tips of my hair, trying desperately to pull the brush through. I winced. Using, what felt like, every muscle in my body I tried to keep my head (and the rest of my body) up straight. "Are you okay?" she asked me. "I don't want to hurt you, but I think you're hair has other plans." I laughed. Even in this horrible situation my grandma could always make me laugh. "Yea I'm fine," I said. And she continued to brush.

I kept my hair long throughout most of my childhood keeping it basically the same until about seventh grade when I bought my first box of hair dye, and like a heroin addict I quickly became addicted. By the time middle school was ending I had been many different shades of blonde and almost every shade of brunette. I felt a sense of freedom in being able to dye my hair. At this point in my life it felt as if it were the only thing that I had control of. My mom being my mom, really couldn't have cared less over what I did to my hair, just as long as I didn't go and complain to her about it later. In hindsight I think I was looking for a way to "fix" my hair. At this point I still didn't like it. I couldn't brush it and the curls were everywhere. I remember all the boys and sometimes the girls would make fun of me for my hair. I sat in math class. Trying desperately to pay attention. I hated math it was stupid and didn't make sense. So I sat there eyes glued to the screen, but all I could think about was the stupid boy sitting behind me pulling on every one of my curls and laughing. At least the boys had been obvious about it, and admitted to their cruelty, girls were much more subtle. Being in middle school they had just realized that they could be some of the worst human beings on the planet. I sat in the bathroom with my feet up on the toilet so no one would know I was there. I was supposed to be in lunch but my friend Alex and I were in a fight and I didn't feel like dealing with her right now so I sat, trying really hard no to cry. And in walked some of the "cool" girls. They stood in front of the wall fixing their hair, despite the fact that for some reason there were no mirrors. The laughed and gossiped and made fun of people, because that's just what mean girls did. And finally I heard my name come up. i didn't hear all of it, but what I did catch was this. "You know Niamh. She could be cool but she's just too obnoxious and loud. And that hair just makes it even worse. She should really learn how to fix that." I tried very very hard not to cry. Because if they heard my crying my life would literally become a living hell. I really really really hated my hair.

Then there came High School. I bought myself a flat iron, got blonde highlights, and just tried to fit in. To be normal. To be quiet and blend. To be the term that had recently become very popular: "A wallflower". For two and a half years I stayed like this. But then in my second semester of my junior year something weird happened. My art class changed me. I've always loved art and always took classes, but (to pull a total cliche) this one was different). It had this great atmosphere and the friendships I gained through it changed my life. The people there liked me for me. Loud, obnoxious, crazy me. And so slowly, but surely I gained my confidence back. I started dyeing my hair funky colors during the year, which I'd never had the confidence to do. Before, any time I dyed it a non-human oriented color I always did it over the summer- only to be dyed back as soon as school began again. I didn't want to stand out. Didn't want to be obnoxious. Didn't want people saying that my hair needed to be "fixed". Eventually as I grew more and more comfortable with myself I began trying different hairstyles, colors, anything really. I finally felt true freedom with my hair. I became obsessed with celebrity hairstyles and keeping up the current trends. First came the shoulder length cut with big curls. Next a little longer with bangs. And finally after becoming re-obsessed with Emma Watson I became fixated on the pixie cut. For the first week of my obsession I didn't even consider attempting the daring cut. "It was too short". "You wouldn't be able to pull it off." "It would look absolutely horrible." All things I told myself. But then one friday night I was home, alone, being typical me I spent most of the night google imaging Emma Watson. And then Katie Holmes. And then Michelle Williams. The common theme here was the pixie cut. Finally I couldn't deny the urge any longer. I had to get it. I had to get the Pixie Cut.

So there I was. Next monday. After School. I was sitting in Super Cuts. Bad music played throughout the store and the room smelled of hairspray and a mix of beauty products that clearly had so many components that it was impossible to decipher the ingredients. I could hear gum smacking and the sound of giggling middle school girls. Huddled in the corner there was no doubt that they had come to fulfill the timeless cliche of side bangs and red tips. This was the place where my entire image was about to change. I had actually made an appointment at a real salon for friday but after spending hours after school google imaging Emma Watson and Michelle Williams I decided that i needed the change now. Eventually after flirting with whatever cute boy had walked through the door the hairdresser came over and ran her hands through my curly hair.

"You really do have beautiful hair," she said. "Are you sure you want to do this?" And for a second, just one second, terror flashed through me. What if it looked awful? What if it hated it? What if i looked like a boy? But I knew myself. Once i got my mind set on an idea I just had to do it. I had thought about this for a full hour before officially deciding to go ahead with my impulse. When it came to my hair that was a lot of thinking and considering on my part. Sitting in the chair I took one last look at myself. My overgrown bangs had been pushed to the left and straightened slightly in order than they were wavy and could blend in with the rest of my curls. The rest of my hair worked it's way down to a little past my shoulders in a downpour of golden ringlets. And with one last thought of how amazing Emma Watson's new hair looked I nodded,"yup, cut it all off!"

I closed my eyes. Despite the fact that I'd been dreaming about the haircut since friday night I wasn't sure if I could watch the hair that had grown up with me be chopped off. While my sight was purposefully blocked it felt as though every other sense was heightened. I could hear every movement the hairdresser was making. Slowly she reached, and eventually picked up the scissors. Snipping them in the air I heard their razor sharp blades swish past each other. I forced myself to keep my eyes shut even as I felt the huge lump in my throat grow even bigger. She moved my chair up and pulled my hair into a ponytail. Wrapping her fingers around the mass I could sense the blades were near. And with one last peak through my left eye, I said a silent goodbye. After that I heard the sound of something been chopped off. Then the weight of my hair seemed lighter. For the next 15 minutes the hairdresser worked her way around my head. Snipping away at my hair. And through the slits of my eyes, as I looked down at the floor, I saw my curls fall helplessly to the floor. There was no turning back and by now most of my hair was gone. By the time the hairdresser said she was done I was too astonished that I had actually done it that I could barely look at myself. I simply said: "Yup great, thanks so much." Paid and then left. I got home showed my parents who approved and then went to bed. And by the time I was in bed I realized I'd just cut off all my hair without really seeing if I'd liked it at all.

The next morning I had woken up a little earlier just to make sure it was perfect. I had straightened the front and put in a little hair gel to make sure the new cut was perfect for it's debut. And finally I just stared at myself in the mirror. It was me. It was all, it was only me. My new pixie cut had made it impossible to hide behind anything. Suddenly my entire face seemed bigger and it felt like every detail could be seen from a mile away. My eyes definitely looked bigger, and holy crap I did not realize that I had cheekbones that high. The massive amount of hair that I'd hidden behind for so long was gone. There was nothing but me.

After being bullied in the middle school I had taught myself to not be me and to just be quiet. I had hushed down my otherwise loud personality. I straightened my hair, self conscious that my curly hair would draw too much attention. Keep your hand and head down in class. Only certain people were allowed to act smart and if you weren't in that group then your hand and head were to stay down. Unless, of course, you wanted to face the wrath of the high social order. But throughout my second semester of what would be my first junior year I found out I would be leaving to hopefully go to a better place. That being the case it didn't bother me as much that I would be walking into school with shorter hair than most guys. The pixie cut was my "see ya later suckers" to my times in high school. I knew I was going to walk into school to face all different sorts of looks. Looks of awe, looks of disappointment, and looks of; "what the hell is wrong with you, you look like a boy, don't you respect your femininity?!" But I didn't care because this was me, all me, just me, nothing but me. And me was pretty. Me looked good.

And as I continued to stare at myself in the mirror because, really, the difference as a little freaky, I began to think for the first time that I was actually really pretty. I mean you hear that kind of thing from your family and friends but up until that moment I had never really thought of myself as anything special - but I was pretty. The style emphasized my brown eyes and high cheekbones in such a way that it made me almost delicate looking. And I liked it. And I felt proud. I could pull of a pixie cut!




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