Why a Haircut Can’t Change Your Life (Unless You Make It)

As a hairstylist, I have a lot of power to relax, de-stress and, when I’m lucky, empower my clients.  I say, “when I’m lucky,” simply because if I could do this every day, I would be the happiest hairstylist around.  But the fact is, I just cut the hair.  And sometimes color it.  At the end of the day, I am paid to do the very odd job of changing the appearance of protein filaments protruding from the head.  And all the personal, cultural and social entanglements of these protein filaments is baggage that I just don’t have control over.

At times this is a really distressing reality.  Clients come in with all sorts of problems: break ups, social anxiety, work stress, family drama and everything else that comes with living life.  I have always been the type to want to help everyone.  And in the short term, I can help.  I give a good head massage and I am a pro at comfortable silences when they are needed… or distracting with light conversation when that is needed.  I love people.  One on one time with anyone and I can find something to like about them.  But I can’t save people.  I am not a doctor or a therapist or a firefighter or a member of the coast guard…. I’m just a hairdresser.

In my perfect world, people would feel less tied down to societal norms regarding their hair.  And I don’t mean I want people more comfortable with rocking pink mowhawks in the work place, I just mean that hair wouldn’t be a source of extreme stress for anyone.  I wish women didn’t feel like their sexuality were tied to the length of their hair and that men didn’t feel like their virility were tied to the thickness of theirs.  I wish people could be celebratory of whatever they have and enjoy their hair and not have to fight with it so much.  I wish hair didn’t have to be so damn symbolic.

But it is.  And all the time people come in expecting a cure for a breakup.  Or use a haircut as a motivation to get something else right in their life.  And by all means, a haircut can help.  It can help quite a bit!  But it can’t do all the work.  I can’t do all the work.

A haircut can be the catalyst for HUGE changes in a person’s life and for how they and the world view themselves.  But without confidence and purpose, a haircut is nothing.  Hair cannot work alone.  Sometimes it is as simple as a few new wardrobe items, a pair of shoes, a different blush or lipstick.  Sometimes it is much, much more complicated.  If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I look good,” it doesn’t matter what the hair is doing.  Someone who goes out into the world after a big hair change without confidence is going to get much more mixed reactions.  Dying your hair a different color will not bring back your boyfriend.  Cutting all of your hair off will not make you a suddenly independent and free thinking woman.  I do, personally, believe that women should experience their hair at different lengths throughout their lifetime.  But when you wake up the day after a haircut or color, you’re still the same person, except a day older and with different hair.

I love change and I love being a part of changes in the lives of clients!  I love to watch people grow and adapt and evolve, and to make them look good while they do it.  But, honey, if you think I can make it happen by myself… well, I wish I could.

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