Simply Be Real: The bad haircut

Have you ever looked in the mirror and been so unhappy with your appearance that you start imagining yourself with different features? Of course, we all have. That’s why the cosmetics industry exists. But if those ideas ever come to light then it probably went through a rational process and several weeks of thinking about it. That’s usually how I do things, except on one very humiliating occasion.

Illustration by Anna Dray.

Illustration by Anna Dray.

I was 14, angsty, and feeling extremely misunderstood – you know the phase. I was the tallest girl in all of my classes, the boy who I was in love with didn’t know my name and my friends dressed a lot better than I ever could. It was all very tragic.

One day, I was sat in an English class doing “group work”/gossiping with my friends. After we’d been through the “who snogged who” agenda, we went on to discuss whose hair we loved the most. This was at the time when curly hair and side fringe’s were all the rage.

My hair was straight, mid length and feathered at the front – so not cool. I’ve dreamt of naturally curly hair all my life. The only reason I ever ate bread crusts was because I heard it gave you curly hair – you got me there, Mum. I longed for the day of having fabulously fashionable hair.

“Do you think a side fringe would suit me?” I asked my friends, most of whom were rocking the look enviously well. “Definitely,” they eagerly replied, “I think that’s a real must for your hair.”

And that was it. I was getting a side fringe. I could already see my popularity rise tremendously with my awesome new hair.

That night, I was due to go to my best friend’s 14th birthday party. She went to a different school in the next town and was very high up in the popular rankings. I loved her to bits but her friends always made me feel a little inadequate – playing classical music and doing your homework was really not cool back then. If I had a side fringe though, I knew I’d definitely fit in.

I begged my mum to take me to the hairdressers when I got home. I desperately explained my situation to her: ” but mum, I’ll never fit in without that haircut”. My mum didn’t quite understand the whole school ranking system, and told me I’d have to wait until my next appointment in 6 weeks.

“6 weeks?! I’ll be a laughing stock by then,” I thought, assuming that the popular groups in every school have some kind of system where they share stories of all the other kids.

I sat sulking on my bed, frantically writing in my journal about how unfair my life was, when I saw a pair of scissors that I’d left in my room after wrapping my best friends present.

“Anyone can be a hairdresser, right?” I thought, reminding myself that I cut my barbie’s hair pretty well as a kid.

I sat trailing through myspace for the next half an hour, gathering images of the side fringe I wanted – it would be a thick, slightly layered side fringe that would skim across my eyebrows. I’d finally be able to take myspace profile pictures where I looked up to the camera, because my gigantic forehead wouldn’t be glaring into the camera – my fabulous new fringe would be.

I took the scissors, grabbed the chunk of hair that was soon to be my new fringe, looked in the mirror and *SNIP* – followed by a cry of panic.

I’d cut the fringe too short. There was a huge gap between my eyebrow and the start of the side fringe. Panic, panic, panic. The end of the side fringe went to the middle of my cheek – that’ll need to be shorter. *SNIP*. Now my fringe is in a zig-zag shape. Not good, not good, not good.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my mum came into my room to tell me I only had a few minutes before I had to leave – but before she could say anything she cried/screamed: “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR HAIR?!”

Tears started streaming down my face as my mum assessed the damage. Well, when I say “assessed” it was more just a repeat of: “What were you thinking?”, “Why couldn’t you wait?”, “This will take ages to grow back.”

I pleaded my mum not to let me go to the party. I’ve never wanted to be grounded more in my life. But my mum is a wise woman, she knew that making me go was punishment enough.

When I arrived at my best friends house, with not only a zig-zagged fringe, but a red and blotchy face from too much crying, her friends answered the door and immediately started laughing. “Who were you trying to be?”, “Who cut your hair?”, “That really doesn’t suit you.” Oh, to be 14.

My best friend heard all the commotion, told her friends off and dragged me into the bathroom to assess the damage. She had a flair for hair, unlike myself, and pinned my fringe back with several hair clips and what felt like an entire can of hairspray.”Best friends don’t let each other look silly… alone,” she said, and reminded her friends of the time that she cut her hair too.

When Simply Be asked me to share a “real moment” that women experience in everyday life for the #SimplyBeReal campaign, this one sprung to mind. This is not to say that I meet many women who’ve given themselves terrible haircuts, or to say that I’ve cut my own hair since (never, ever again), but it’s because when we’re feeling self-conscious of our appearance, we often act irrationally – and this is a hilarious example of that.

Some of us have stuffed tissue in our bras because we don’t like having small boobs (guilty). Some of us have stopped wearing our favourite clothes because someone told us they didn’t like them (RIP wardrobe of 2010). Most of us have a bad haircut story that has stemmed from social pressures.

However, with each irrational move we make to alter our appearances, there’s always a moment of clarity when you realise that the reason you feel humiliated is because it doesn’t represent you. As it turned out, after having an emergency hair appointment two days later, a side fringe didn’t suit me at all. The popular crowd in my school didn’t hear about my bad haircut through some “popular underworld” and when I admitted what had happened to my friends at school, they didn’t feel embarrassed to be around me – they laughed it off and told me they’d tried to be hairdressers too.

We all act irrationally from time to time, buying things we’d never wear and applying makeup to match a different person’s style. Sometimes these irrational decisions are good, and push us out of our comfort zones. However, if you’re thinking of getting a new haircut… put the scissors down and leave it to the professionals.

LifePippa Says