Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The story of my pixie cut inspired by a buzz cut

Back in April, Sally at A Breath of Foreign Air buzzed off her long locks.

Well, she didn't buzz it off herself. Some newly-made friends at her hostel did it for her!

Oh, and to top that, it went down in a pub. In Ireland.

And for whatever reason, that event sparked the idea to cut off my own hair as well. I could do it right before I started the Camino, I thought, to make showering less of a chore during the four weeks I'd be living out of a backpack.

Why I Wanted to Cut Off My Hair

That logistical benefit was definitely noted, shower-hater as I am, but it wasn't the only reason why I was thinking to cut my hair super short - or buzz it off, or whatever.

For me it was a bold move, a risk. I'd never gotten my hair cut that short before. In fact, I've rocked it long most of my life. The cut I got before moving to Korea (pictured below) was the shortest I'd had my hair since I was a little girl.

My "short" hair partially pulled back

I had no idea if short-short would look good with my face shape. In fact, I'd had it in my head for some reason that I didn't have the right face shape for pixie cuts.

But I also wanted to embrace the "Why not?" view on life - to do it because I can. To try new things. Shake it up. Add some variety into my life.

To know that how I look does not change who I am and what's inside.

Man that last sentence kind of makes me want to gag, but this was something I'd never actually considered doing before, almost as if it were off limits or out of reach. I thought it would feel like I'd be dressed up in a ridiculous costume all day, out in public - which requires bravery.

But I wasn't worried, I was excited to kick things up. Hair grows back.

People Who Didn't Want Me to Cut My Hair

Not everyone was excited about my fun little idea.

It was strange to have reactions that weren't supportive from others because... well, because it's my hair. The hair that grows from my head! And I can do what I want with it!

If someone else doesn't want you to change your physical appearance, you can only infer that they think you'll look worse post-change.

I was also surprised at these reactions because, I feel like I'm repeating myself here, hair grows back. It's not like I was getting an ugly tattoo.

The Haircut

At some point between then and Spain, during which I both did a little searching for "short hair styles" on Google Images and also unexpectedly reacquired the "single" status, I firmly decided that I would get this haircut. But I wasn't brave enough to just let someone go at it with a buzzer (Gregorio had offered; said Alex had one... You'll see a picture of both these Spanish men in just a minute).

I've been afraid of Spanish hairdressers ever since I first lived in Madrid and discovered that mullets and rat tails were far too common in that country. So I didn't have a salon I knew/trusted, and I also didn't want to spend much money on this.

Luckily, over the summer I saw a post online from an American teaching English in Madrid who cuts hair from her living room for fun on the side. 15 euros. Native English speaker. Sold.

I emailed her and said vaguely what I wanted to do, cut my hair short short, how did she feel about doing that? She responded saying she'd just given herself a "pixie cut" a month ago. I looked up her photo and sure enough, she was rocking a cute cut! I also learned that this is called a pixie cut.

Jump to the day of the haircut. So that we have a before picture, this is me on my second full day back in Madrid this fall, visiting my first Spanish friend that I made way back when:


Want to turn back time and see us in 2009 when we met? Well, all right, since you asked so nicely:

So I go to this girl's apartment. She is very chill and artistic, and I feel at ease in her presence. I just kind of let her go at it and do what she thinks is best, since I had no idea about pixie cuts. She really worked her magic on my hair.

Snip, snip.
I was so happy and giddy when I took a look in the mirror and saw what she'd done with it. And all with just a pair of scissors. Talented!

I had plans to meet up with Gregorio for lunch afterwards at Rincón de Jaén. We were supposed to meet at 2, but I didn't end up leaving my haircutter's place until 2:30.

I kept touching my hair as I walked to the tapas restaurant, grinning with my secret of the fresh haircut.

I was pleasantly surprised that Alex, Gregorio's friend, was also joining us for lunch. Here we are:

Gregorio, me, Alex

It looks like I have a big bald spot on that side, but it was just how the hair happened to be pushed when the photo was taken. Here's one more that I took later that day:

Since I'm rarely in front of a mirror, it would catch me off guard every time I caught a glance of my reflection. Who is that? It wasn't me, it looked like someone else. (But that someone else luckily had a face for pixie cuts after all!)

The Hair on the Camino

The hair was amazingly perfect for the camino; I really couldn't imagine having done it with my old hair, or anything longer.

It was also interesting to be in that environment because everyone I met throughout the walk didn't know that this was a new look for me, of course. So while they're taking me in, sizing me up as a full person, meanwhile I'm still getting freaked out and feeling disconnected when I see myself in a mirror.

On one of the earlier days, while having dinner with a young German and a Colombian, somehow the topic of my hair came up in conversation.

So I shared that I had just cut off my hair a few days ago. These two guys were surprised, and wanted to see what I'd looked like the week before. When I showed them a before photo, they were shocked, and both agreed that it was much better now.

About a week later, while eating with two different pilgrims (Nick from Michigan and Ad from Holland), again the topic just came up in conversation and so I revealed that the haircut was new on me.

Michigan (Many people just called him that...) wanted to see the before picture, too. Michigan is in his mid/upper-30s, and this was the first time he'd been outside of the USA. After he finished the camino he'd have another two months to explore Europe, and he was super excited. He always had a boatload of energy and would talk with anyone. Some people probably thought he was acting drunk, but he actually had completely given up drinking years ago.

Anyway, keeping that personality in mind, when he saw the picture he said: Holy crap! Oh my god, you look like- like a librarian! Like someone who would never do anything wrong ever! Oh, wow!

So I guess I look a bit tougher now, or more edgy, and that's just fine by me. It probably matches my insides better anyway, with last year in Korea now under my belt.

Over two months have passed since I cut my hair, and I'm no longer surprised when I look in the mirror; this is me.

I'm strong, I'm ready to take bigger risks, and I'm loving my hair (especially how fast it dries!).

All thanks to an impromptu Irish buzz cut.
• • •


  1. I love love love this post. I felt exactly the same for a lot of it- the disconnect with my reflection, the weird way I felt when I met new people, the surprise that I hadn't had short hair all my life and the weird adverse reactions people had beforehand. I really think that regardless of whether I grow it long again or not, it was an awesome thing to do and I'm so glad it happened. I'm sure you feel the same.

    WOOOOO spontaneous short haircuts!

    P.S. Besides the point, but you look cute! :)

    1. Thanks Sally! And again, thanks so much for writing about your experience and sharing it with the world... look at your impact already! : )