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Chop! Chop!

Updated: May 23, 2022

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been traumatized by a haircut/style/do.

::Lifts both arms into the air and waves furiously::

Over the course of my teen years and into my early 20s, I dabbled in what I like to call “Hair Art.” Whether it was a breakup, a different job, a transition to a new school, or just feeling extra feisty, I would occasionally swap my trademark mid-back dirty blonde locks for something different.

For my wedding, I sported midnight black hair (I was convinced it created a more dramatic effect compared to the romantic roses and deep garnet tones we had weaved through the decor). When I decided to go back to my Legally Blonde look, it was a process. A process that had me sporting more of a Bozo the Clown Orange, made significantly worse by the bob I chose.

Even at 35, I still get the itch to change things up a bit. Granted, I’ve learned my lesson and my transitions are far less drastic, now. But last fall I decided I needed to hit the refresh button on my style and tried a nice chestnut brown. As it faded out, my hair turned red and brassy and before long I was left longing for my old mane. Over my two decades of hair play, I’ve come to two realizations: 1) I ALWAYS go back to my blonde and 2) NEVER LET ANYONE BUT MEGAN TOUCH MY HAIR. I’ve accepted these two truths and I’ve saved myself much heartache, frustration, and even money.

So imagine the pit in my stomach that formed when Avery approached me, again, to ask if she could cut her hair. This wasn’t a new request, as she’d been saving pictures on Pinterest for the better part of three years. But I’d managed to stall for just as long, making her promise to wait until the two weddings she was in had passed. The weddings came and went, and I thought she had forgotten.

But two weeks ago, she brought it up again and I had run out of reasons to say no. So on Saturday, I carted her off to see my girl Megan and Avery chopped it all off.

I cried.

In her 11 years, she had never had a hairstyle shorter than her shoulders (which she donned for all of kindergarten). And since Covid, she hadn’t even trimmed it. Wet and combed, it nearly touched the small of her back. But it wasn’t just the length I’d grown attached to. From the time she could accept compliments, complete strangers had always fawned over her hair.

“You know, people pay good money to have those highlights, and you have them naturally!” I know, I’d think. I’m ONE of those people.

“Oh, look at those beautiful, beachy waves!” another would say.

Kid had killer hair and she didn’t even realize it.

Maybe, just maybe, I was a wee bit jealous of her effortlessly beautiful mane, which had become an identifying marker for me. It was part of her personality and the spirit of the little girl I had raised.

But ladies, that was the problem. While I felt this part of her was a primary physical characteristic, she did not. In fact, the complete opposite. In her mind, her spunky, artsy nature wasn’t captured by her long, plain, tangled, nuisance of a ponytail. She wanted to feel edgier, stand out, shake it up a bit.

When she asked me a few weeks ago, I found myself gravitating to the reactive answer: “Absolutely not.” But I caught myself.

It’s just hair, I thought. And it is. It will grow back, eventually. Given that her hair grows at the rate of Jack’s Beanstalk, she’d be back to shoulder length within a year if she did hate it. As I reflected on all my personal hair mess-ups, I realized she would make this choice at some point in her life. With or without me. Avery will come to that crossroads, where life feels overwhelming, or she wants to hit the restart button and she will choose to do something drastic. Maybe it won’t be hair. Perhaps she’ll seek out something more permanent - like a tattoo. Possibly trade in all her athletic gear and leggings for checkered print mini skirts and combat boots. Who knows?

If I told her no now, it was just deferring the inevitable and reinforcing one particular notion that had me rattled. What I’d really be telling my kid is “ I don’t trust you to make your own decisions.”

And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t my primary goal here, as a parent, to get them across the finish line feeling confident and capable of making their own choices? I want her to know I have her back and I support her in all of them, even when I don’t agree. And if I want her to feel comfortable enough to approach me and talk through the more major decisions of her life (like which college to attend or whether she should break up with a partner), shouldn’t I start by having those conversations now? Proving to her I’m not some authoritarian figure barking out orders and my own agenda?

There was a strong chance she’d hate the haircut. Like VERY strong. And if she did, then I could also use this as an example to teach her how we must all learn to live with the consequences of our choices. Whether she liked it or not, it was her decision and she’d have to deal with the outcomes.

Since Saturday, she’s had a few people make comments directly to her and of course, the social media trolls just couldn’t contain themselves, adding their own opinions: .

“How could you let her do THAT?!”

“If kids weren’t making fun of her before, they surely will be now.”

“I had such anxiety seeing [the cut].”

“It’s wayyyy too short.”

“My mother did this to me as a child and I still hate her for it.”

“It’s a no. There was no need to cut off that much. Poor kid.”

“I don’t like it.”

Do I agree with her choice? Nope. Not one bit. Is it my favorite look on her? Not quite. But it’s not my body. And it’s really not my choice. And the opinions that I, her father, her friends, or anyone else hold, quite frankly, DON’T MATTER. She loves it. She feels more herself. Watching her face light up and seeing the instantaneous confidence boost was all the affirmation I needed that I made the right choice.

Thankfully, I’m raising two fierce children who understand that their worth is not tied solely to their appearance. There is far more to Thing 1 and Thing 2 than a haircut; they know it and so do I. But unfortunately, not everyone has been reading the same Mental Health Mantra book. They think a haircut defines my girl and have made their disapproval known. How sad it is for them to think an 11-year-old’s hairstyle choice warrants extreme negativity, excuses unkind behavior and comments from her peers, and should dictate her self-worth. My daughter is strong enough to recognize that being different is OK. That bucking the trend is perfectly acceptable. That doing something, despite what others think of it, is encouraged and supported, so long as it aligns with who she is, what she likes, and what she stands for. And if she is picked on and targeted because of her hair, maybe we as parents need to seriously reevaluate what we’re teaching our kids about self-love, acceptance, and tolerance of others.

You don’t like her haircut? You are entitled to that opinion. But may I suggest that you politely keep it to yourself and instead, opt NOT to cut your hair like that? Think I handled this all wrong? Well, just like my kids, I could care less. My self-worth is not relative to your opinions of my parenting style. I’m a good Mother. I know it and 9.5/10 days, they'd agree with that statement, too.

Now, if you excuse us, we have a life to get back to living. One where the three of us will go on being our true selves, supporting each other, talking through the tough stuff, accepting our differences and embracing them, making the hard choices, and having each other’s back when we do. If this sounds like you, Mama, please, come along for the ride. We love making friends with other bad asses.

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She looks confident and happy with it. What more could anyone ask for? And it’s adorable too! Great work, Mama!

My girlie asked to dye her gorgeous curly light blonde hair dark brown a couple years ago. When I picked her up it was Jett black!! And still poofy curly! She looked like Gilda Radner playing Roseanna Danna. Yikes!!!

Did I love it? Not even a little bit! Did I support her with it? Yup! Did I then have to pay stupid amounts of money less than a year later for color correction at her request? Yup! but it’s her hair and she can express herself with it.

The way I look at it, when we support them…


she's stunning!! I love this post & your whole thought process here ❤️

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