Short Hair Don't Care: 4 Things I Learned After Chopping Off My Hair

by Angela Madera

If you told me two years ago I'd chop off my hair, I would have called you crazy. You didn't need to tell me; I knew my dark brown hair was stunning.

It was thin but plentiful, and it ran down my back like a music note.

In the sunlight, natural highlights of red and orange would come about. It smelled delicious. I loved it and everyone knew it. My hair was my pet.

But, life changed and I changed. At first, I only thought it, but by the time I decided to cut it, I was fearless.

"Get rid of it," I told the hairdresser, and it was done. She gave me an angled bob, just above the ear and I was thrilled.

There was no post-traumatic shock and no crying, just a bunch of hair on the ground that need to be cleaned up.

What followed was the remarkable part. I knew my coworkers would compliment me as a courtesy whether they liked my hair or not.

You know, the perfunctory, "I love it," and "It makes you look young." Shaddup.

But then, I started to notice something: Way too many people were calling me "brave." Really? For cutting my hair?

To me, someone brave was someone going through some sort of serious health issue like cancer or ALS.

Don't get me wrong; I liked the compliment, but I just didn't think it was appropriate for someone in my situation.

Brave. It was also how they said it that miffed me. Women I hadn't spoken to in months suddenly sidled up next to me to start up the hair conversation. "I wish I had the guts to do that." "I could never pull that off."

I got the impression these women had been thinking of cutting off their hair for years, and I was the symbol of the brave soul who did it.

It made me think, "Ladies, what's stopping ya?" Haircuts are painless and accessible to the masses. Why the hesitation? I learned why.

Here's what I learned in my short hair journey -- first a bob, then a full-blown pixie:

1. Men love long hair.

Hair. Men. They love it. I knew this before, but after chopping off my hair, holy cow. Men love their women with long, porn-star hair.

I had two male coworkers at the time and both responded, in essentially the same way, "I like it..." followed by, "But I liked your hair longer."

They looked at me and missed the woman I was, that somehow, without my long hair, I was less desirable. It was like all of a sudden, without that pet on my head, I wasn't so sexy — maybe even less of a woman.

And then, it hit me. I realized just how important hair was to me; it even impacted my daily decisions.

In pictures with former boyfriends, I always made sure I posed with my long hair in front of my shoulders. My hair was always down.

When my Dad told me to cut it, I refused. It wasn't until becoming single that I realized how much my hair and relationships had made my decisions for me. One man even told me I would "asexualize" myself if I cut my hair shorter. What the hell?

2. Society tells us to value hair.

Youth. Beauty. Being thin. Speaking with a mid-Atlantic accent. There's no getting around it; society sets a standard and we do, too.

Ever wonder why no matter what state you live in, news anchors have the same accent?

It's called mid-Atlantic, and yes, this is the case, whether you are in New England or the Deep South.

But is long hair in that same category? Having cut mine off, I'd say yes, it most definitely is. I can't tell you how many times I was questioned, "why?!" when someone first saw me.

I was treated as if there was something wrong with me and my judgment for making the conscious decision to off my own hair. Others just gave me a sad look.

"Don't worry, before you know it, it will grow back," I could read from their eyes.

It seemed unthinkable for me to willingly cut off my hair at my age (late 20s). I found myself having conversations to try and convince people that I wasn't mentally ill.

Yes, I just cut off my hair, now beat it!

3. People will tell you not to cut it.

Men will tell you not to cut it. They'll plead with you like you're holding a knife to their members. It made me rethink the entire gender, really.

And marriage, too. Another comment I heard a lot in this journey was, "My husband would kill me." Really? Over hair?

What if you have a terrible accident? Cancer? Third-degree burn? I thought marriage was for better or for worse, not or until you cut off your gorgeous hair.

This wasn't just a male thing. Women in equal numbers, although much less tenacious, tried to persuade me to keep my hair, which had grown to my shoulders by that point.

My neighbor hairdresser balked as she held my shoulder length hair in her hand and proclaimed, "I can't. I can't do it!"

It was in that moment that I laughed and put my finger in her face, "I'm paying you to do this, so do it!" My short hair journey had more impact than I thought; I was more confident, more demanding and I loved it.

After she gave me the pixie haircut I asked for, it hit me hard. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't miss my long hair.

Like a warm blanket, hair provides comfort and security that is surely missed after it's gone. I was terrified I wouldn't look hot enough as a bridesmaid for two upcoming weddings.

4. Times are changing.

Maybe I was wrong about the society and hair part. It seems like everywhere I look, short, even grey hair, is popular.

Miss Jamaica looked sexy AF with short hair as she sashayed like a boss in the Miss USA pageant.

Jennifer Lawrence invents a new short hairstyle every day. It wasn't until the weddings were over that I fell in love with my short hair.

I saw my hair, my round face, my fair skin and I thought, "I'm still me. I love me."

What I loved most about it was the journey — which included many ups and downs — was the one constant: me. After all, it's me who's there for myself in my dark and difficult times.

So, when I get asked, "Don't you want a man who knows you better than you know yourself?" I would say it's not possible. Sure, you may know, but not more than me.

It's an unrealistic expectation, really. What I do expect, however, is that you love every millimeter of me, including my hair. I want you fawning and salivating when you look at me.

After all, I'm still the same girl.