How I Got The Courage To Cut My Hair


Photo: December 2011 post

I had been thinking about cutting my hair for about two years before I did it….

I had chopped it short once when I was in London and it got so many compliments.    After about a year, I grew it out.   It took about five years to get it past my shoulders again but that was the ‘test’ that I knew that I could do it and that I could do it again if I wanted.

relaxed hair styles

Photo: February 2013 post

Rewind to about 2012 when I coloured my hair. That was a big mistake.  My hair is relaxed and adding another chemical on top was not smart. The texture of my hair changed no matter how much I conditioned it.  Plus I never liked how my hair hung on either side of my head like a curtain. I played with a fringe but it was never thick enough.  It was see through.  When I walked it would split in half going to each side of my face. It was never ever a true fringe and that bugged me (note how I fiddle with the front of my hair in photo 1?).  Adding layers helped a little but it still hung like a curtain.  Blog photos would be of me motionless facing the camera or strategically picked out shots that showed it looking its best.  In reality it wasn’t.

leopard print coat

So I started wearing hats and lots of them.  Mostly fedoras because I liked how they looked with long hair.  Wearing fedoras went from being my signature to being my crutch.  I hid behind them.  Every morning I didn’t like the front and top of my hair  with that side or center parting, so the fedora’s covered that.  All the time.  It was a great look but it was my only look.  I was forever the boho girl even if I was growing out of that. I wanted more looks.   Around then I remembered how I felt with short hair.  It was liberating but still feminine.  Many women think short hair will make you lose your femininity but I didn’t feel like that.  To a black woman, long hair in our culture is seen as a sign of beauty,  so cutting it short is probably seen as  a huge loss.   “Wow that’s YOUR hair? It’s not a weave?”  I had been asked if I had tracks in when it was long.   “Oh you’ve got that ‘good hair’ that grows long.”   Most of you know what I’m talking about. Even my Mum can relate, telling me stories of how the boys in her class only went after the black girls with long hair.

More and more I was drawn to photos of pixie hair cuts.  Pictures of Binx Walton, Kate Lanphear and editorials of boyish short haired models were growing on my desktop.   I was fed up of hiding behind a fedora.  Every outfit post was with a hat and I started to resent it.

Chanel boy bag

Photo: March 2014 post

My first cut was longer than what you see above.  When I sat in the salon chair of a place in Manhattan, I showed them pixie cuts and instead they gave me a long bob.  I hated it. I wanted boyish and they gave me a TV newsreader.  I went back THREE TIMES that week requesting more and more off.  The above was that third cut which was still a bob. The ear tuck was my way of keeping the sides low.  When I looked at my long hair on the salon floor I didn’t miss it.  That was my test. Would I burst into tears?  I didn’t.  I wasn’t thinking: “oh sh** what have I done?” Instead I was thinking: “I want more off.”  That’s when I knew I was doing the right thing and had to find someone who ‘got me.’

You know how your style changes as you get older?  Mine was being drawn to three adjectives:  boyish, punk and edgy.

pixie hair cuts

Photo: December 2014

The above cut is from a salon I go to now in Brooklyn.  My cousin raved about this place. I repeated the same three adjectives to this stylist and so help me God if they don’t get it I’ll find someone who will (I didn’t say that last part but that’s what I was thinking).  He saw that the pseudo bob was not what I wanted:  “Honey if you’re gonna do this you’re gonna have to go all the way.”  Something clicked when he said that. He showed me his favourite short punkish hair style on his iPad.  I had Instagrammed that same exact photo months earlier.  I had found the right guy.

Do I miss my long hair? Sometimes I do but then I sit and remember why I did it: the styling issues, the texture change, the hat dependance, the see through fringe.  It wasn’t me anymore and it wasn’t boyish which is what I really wanted.   All these things gave me the courage to not flinch when seven plus inches fell to the floor. Yes I got slight heart palpitations but when something that you want is greater than what you have now, that is your strength to do it.

Whether you have long hair or short hair, if you can look in the mirror and think: “this is me” then ultimately that is all that really matters.




  1. ed says:

    Yessssss.. I absolutely LOVE my pixie cut, I wish I did it years ago, it’s so unbelievable liberating… though the up keep is HARD!.. (hairdressers every 5 weeks), I don’t usually care what people think of my clothes etc, but it gets me a bit upset that guys seem to not like short hair, I think it can be WAY sexier than long hair. The next step for me is shaving it!.. <3

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Awww you need to put an avatar pic of it up! yes it’s definitely more upkeep which I was warned about but hey it’s the price we pay for getting what we want. I think guys are generally more old fashioned and still think through the typically classical perception of beauty. That doesn’t gel with how a lot of women feel now. Dang shaving! I’ve toyed with it but won’t but damn if you do it you have to shot a photo

  2. Jo Ann says:

    short hair don’t care. I love it!

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      I’ll never get tired of whoever started that quote

  3. Veniece Wesson says:

    Oh Karen, this is such a great blog post! You should have
    this piece published in a magazine. I can so relate to everything you are
    saying about the good hair thing, long hair being important to the black
    community, etc. I first cut my hair when I was 15 years old. It had been long
    all my life and when I cut it; the responses were ridiculously crazy from my family
    and everyone else. They acted as though I had ruined my life somehow. But I did
    not care, I cut it into the style I wanted, I finally started letting it grow
    again seven years later and I got a different response from people who had not
    known me before I had cut my hair asking if I had a weave or something. I use
    to flat iron my hair and use curling irons daily. I now stay away from heat. I
    have not worn my hair straight in years. I like it wavy or in a simple pony
    tail. I get so many compliments, but even if I did not, I still would be at
    peace, because I am doing what I want to with my hair. I have found also that
    my hair style preferences have evolved and that is the way that it should be,
    by personal preference, not to fit in. I never liked the way that our black
    community perceive hair as being so crucial to our identity. We should wear our
    hair anyway we like without all of the ignominious attachments.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thank you Veniece funny how family or people in general react so dramatically when we cut hair versus when we grow it. Congrats on finding what suits you the most and sticking to it. Yes our community is extremely tied to our hair. One by one though we’re all making our own minds up and doing what WE want as individuals

  4. Diana says:

    thumbs up chica. love your bob! 😉

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Its not a bob!!!!! gaaaahhhh!!! I’ll wring your neck when I see you next 🙂

      • Diana says:

        hehehe! i know, i know, i’m sorry i couldn’t help myself! lololol. i’m counting down the days for when i can be home again!

  5. Sinead says:

    Such an excellent post, Karen, and you are spot on about the significance of hair to some people in black culture. I am biracial and my teenage rebellion involved cutting off my very long hair to a length not much longer than yours is now. I thought that my father, who was African American, would have a heart attack. He was beside himself when he saw it! To my Irish mother, it was “just hair.”

    My story ended a bit differently from yours, though. Short hair made me feel fat, ugly, and unfeminine (although looking back, it’s clear to me now that I was none of those things.) I couldn’t wait for it to grow back. From my little experiment, I learned that I am definitely meant to be a long-haired girl. Of course now that I’ve crossed the Rubicon of 40, people keep telling me that I “should” consider cutting it. Ha! Never gonna happen. Like you, I have finally found the courage of my style convictions. These days, I wear my hair solely for one person: me.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Hi Sinead yea the black culture thing goes back decades I think and it’s still here today. Thank you for giving me a little more insight into you. I always feel I do when you post a comment. Funny seeing the different reactions from your parents isn’t it? Well your grounded enough to know what you want to do with your hair regardless of what people say you ‘should’ do. Keep doing you.

  6. Lisa says:

    I’ve loved your hair short. It’s definitely more edgy. Plus if you feel like longer hair there are always clip ins. I have VERY short hair, close cropped is more like. It took a lot for me to hold my tongue one Saturday morning listening to two little white girls wonder out loud if I was a boy or a girl!

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thank you Lisa. I agree on the clip ins. I have those plus I have a wig!! one day I’ll shock everyone here and wear it. Ha ha! I was once mistaking for a man by a woman who was standing behind me and I had a mens coat on. I’ve been there ; )

  7. ChainsawKitten says:

    I was happy to see your short cut, and think it’s much more flattering on you. I love long hair…and most of my life mine was long. But, my hair is fine, and it was always a lot of work to keep it looking good. When I was younger and thought of cutting it, the men in my life always stopped me. Then, after a traumatic break up from a long term relationship with a guy who wouldn’t even “allow” me to have bangs, I went to the salon and had my almost waist length hair cut to a pixie in one shot. It was one of the most freeing and amazing feelings ever. I too practically had to talk the stylist into it, I think it was more traumatic for her than it was for me. Since then, I’ve let it grow out here and there to shoulder length, but I like it short, kind of shaggy and boyish. It does give you an edge, for me a tougher feel…and I think I am just as sexy, if not more so, with it short. In a way, short hair is a rebellion, it says that you don’t care about what the beauty standards are.

    As for the cultural thing about long hair – it’s no different with white people! Most of the “perfect female” images thrown at women have long hair. Look at Playboy models – the females that the majority of men grow up seeing as the ideal woman – I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one with short hair. Long hair is equated with youth, health, sexuality…all across the board, with most cultures I believe, and not just today, this has been how it is through the centuries.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thank you ChainsawKitten. My hair is fine too actually and I felt it was one reason why it got increasingly hard to make it look good long. Wow I cannot believe you had that was so controlling. I’m glad that you ultimately got what you wanted because it’s your hair and your head. No one else’s and yes short hair is underestimated in the sexy description department. To this day long hair is still perpetuated as what defines beauty and its all hair that does. Not just one length. Well said.

      • Chainsaw Kitten says:

        Yeah, controlling is putting it mildly…and I was with the jerk for almost 10 yrs. Anyway, I also meant to mention for anyone thinking about going short – in a lot of cases, it makes you look younger, not older. Long hair can pull/ drag your face down…cutting it short does the opposite, shorter hair frames, lifts, and accentuates your features. And really, it’s just hair – for anyone worried about doing it, if you don’t like it, it will always grow back!

  8. Jan says:

    Love the new cut! Good choice! I am thinking of doing the same thing, but not sure it will look as good? I love all your looks on your blog! I have started a fashion blog as well. Please check it out Lots of newest styles for the season for a lot less money.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thanks Jan. I wasn’t too sure even though I’d done it before but I played with my hair when it was long, holding up the back and the sides and making the front come on my face to kind of get an idea. It’s one way to sort of see how it would look on you.

  9. Mercedes Marie says:

    Love short hair. It’s so edgy, wish I could pull that look off. It looks amazing on you


    Mercedes Marie

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thanks Mercedes. You didn’t say TV newsreader thank God 😉 *kidding* Try on a wig it gives a ‘preview’

  10. Caroline Howden says:

    I love the pixie hair style look and wish I had the face shape for a cut like that. I’ve had it cropped short once before, but my hair is really thick (lot’s of it!) and at the time I felt that it gave me hamster cheeks *blows cheeks out*. I think finding a good hairdresser is key! 🙂 I love Michelle Williams peroxide crop…

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Your right about the hairdresser! It’s not easy to find the RIGHT one! Sounds like you could do a pixie if the hairdresser cut out the bulk and thinned out your hair for it to lay flatter? OMG hamster cheeks. That’s the one thing with short hair – you can’t hide anymore unlike long which allows you that. I love Michelle’s hair!!

  11. keepinitretro says:

    Short haired girls unite! I’ve had (mostly) short hair since high school…about a hundred years ago. I found the best stylist when I was in high school and would literally walk in and say, “Do what you want.” He was older than me but totally new wave and edgy. I was young and arty and completely trusting of his artistic abilities. He would cut, shave, color, whatever and I always loved it. Sadly, he was taken away to soon due to AIDS. I’ve kept the short, funky, edgy ‘dos but have never found another stylist who “got me” like my beloved Jesse. Lord knows I’ve tried. I still hold out hope that one day I’ll find him or her! In the mean time I get an okay cut then go home and chop on it myself until I get exactly what I wanted.

  12. coffeeslag says:

    So funny you wrote this post because I just went from middle of the back hair to chin length super bob. And no regrets. I love it, in fact, I love it more than long hair. I feel like a lot of women hide behind long hair (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) with the idea that it’s more feminine but I feel just as feminine as I had with long hair. Also, long hair is eeeeeverywhere. I’m Asian and at least 8 out of 10 of all the Asian girls I see have long hair. Cutting mine short almost made me feel like I had this spunkier personality. I felt different, I felt lighter, I was swinging my (short) hair all over the place! And I had no regrets. Hair…it grows.

    Also, you look fab with the short hair. Fierce. LOVE it. I haven’t gone as short as a pixie cut yet, although it’s something I want to do, maybe pretty soon.


    COFFEESLAG 06/26/15

  13. Ritika Sahni says:

    Hey Karen, This is such an awesome post! I was thinking of doing a similar one (on my blog) because even I cut my hair pixie short recently (a month ago)! I went from waist long to bob to pixie! And I love it.. Short hair means freedom.. Truly..
    And you look awesome in a pixie! I think it suits you more than long hair.. Good luck!

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