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The stages of growing out short hair

Monday, November 7, 2011

About 8 months ago, I stumbled across some pictures of myself from high school. I had a pixie cut and looked like Tinkerbell, except not the Disney version with the severed Lorax tree on her head, and not the Julia Roberts version with the wig plucked out of David Caruso’s NYPD Blue trailer.

 I looked great! I was 18!

Eager to replicate the effervescence, beauty and magic of an era in which I once ate a huge plate of Hunan chicken followed by two bowls of Lucky Charms and a taco yet still maintained a healthy weight of 103 pounds, I decided it best to cut all my hair off at once. Recapturing your youth, by the way, is kind of like dipping your hand into a vat of petroleum jelly and trying to palm a rainbow trout. Except less successful.

My stylist, Josh, was stoked to get his hands on the blond tresses snaking down my back, in the way Edward Scissorhands had to get at those judgey potato salad queens in the neighborhood.

Josh did a fantastic job.

I really, really loved it. I looked fresh and exciting, even though it was ten years later and my metabolism ROFLMFAOed when I ate a half-stick of fried cheese.

After about six months, though, I got bored. You can only do so much with a pixie cut, and my attempts at mixing it up only made me look more and more like Justin Bieber. I decided it was time to grow it back out, thus entering the period I like to call:


You start out as Michelle Williams, Emma Watson, Edie Sedgwick. You are precocious and fawn-like with alternative, modern concepts of beauty. Your features are gentle yet pronounced. Your life is great. People shower you with praise. They wish they could be you. But all of a sudden, seemingly overnight, you enter...


The top starts to get a little long. The sides curl up, and in no time at all you have what can only be described as Serious Freaking Sideburns. Total strangers approach you on the street and ask, "When you coming home, Dad?" And you're all, "I don't know when. But we'll get together then."

A couple weeks pass. Your bangs catch up with the sides, and you're feeling good about where things are headed. But then, without warning strikes... 


This is also known as the "pageboy." You are sad, very sad, because although you have the strength of ten steeds and the ability to defeat a stampede of Nordic huns, you also have a sissy little girl haircut, and you suck.

The back of your neck starts to feel warm, fuzzy. While you once reveled in the fun, shavey boyfriend feeling of your lower hairline, you realize there is now enough length to gather into several tiny ponytails. You try to tuck it behind your ears, but it only accentuates the obvious. You are deep, deep, deep into...


You're going to need MacGyver to get out of this mullet.

You utilize a series of clever headbands and bobby pins to get the situation under control, and for the most part, it works. Your hair is a K'NEX Set, a study in architecture, a fine balance of scaffolding and glue (aerosol hairspray).

You find yourself enjoying a lazy Saturday off work. You take a late afternoon shower and let the whole mop air dry, because, who do you have to impress besides Judge Greg Mathis on your DVR? It's only when you go to the bathroom to wash the Crunch 'n Munch residue off your fingers that you notice...


That's right. All of them.

You run to your basket of hair supplies and grab the aerosol spray, because although you are all alone eating your emotions in regards to no longer being 18, this cannot persist. You spray and brush and spray and brush and spray and brush, but alas, there is no escaping it.


While this is the most terrifying phase, it is also the most important. You look like a steel pot scrubber, yes. But there is no denying you are a hilarious and vibrant three-martini woman of considerable confidence once again. And so inner peace comes to pass.

And then you call your hair guy for the 48th time and he fixes it.

(I'm looking at you, Josh.)


  1. Heelarious. I've never been brave enough to cut my hair. And it sounds like I wouldn't have survived.

  2. Very very sharp rant. Nicely done. Oh, you're looking for compliments AND connection? You'll have to look elsewhere. I have the same haircut I've had since I was in the Miss Montpelier pageant the summer after high school (now THAT's rant material), though then it cost $17 for a wash&cut and now I pay Courtney at Avieieieieda Salon $88 ("maintenance" which sounds like janitorial work) or $128 (full color job, which sounds like what Blanche Devereaux gets).

  3. This has to be the funniest thing that I have ever read about my own hair! Yes, I am just as twisted! I am in phase one Harry Chapin. A little neighbor boy came over the other day and asked me if I was a girl or a boy. I almost cried. It sucked. Maybe if I didnt wear t shirts and shorts all the time and put on some make up, people wouldnt mistake me for a man!

  4. Hahahahah. You have an amazing writing style. I've been in a subconscious depression over growing out my pixie and this made me laugh out loud, so that my sister in the other room looked over at me in confusion and fear. Keep it up, I love your site.

  5. Thanks, Anon! We Bee Gees have to stick together. :)

  6. I could never get long enough past the pageboy look. The shame of it and looking like a right plum.

  7. Finally I have laughed out loud at something that has described my predicament perfectly!! Am currently growing out a tight pixie....I am at the harry chapin stage.....and yes i am finding that I have the odd breakdown and groan about my hair, so thank you for making me simply laugh at myself!!

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  9. Yes, Jools! Hang in there. Phyllis is not far away!

  10. Hilarious, thank you for making me laugh at my current hair "situation"! I am currently somewhere in between the Richard Dean Anderson and the Brothers Gibb. Add to the mix that I am 6 months pregnant and you can pretty much imagine the self loathing that is taking over. I am determined to see this through, and maybe my baby will have her first glimpse at Phyllis Diller in September.

    1. That will be one lucky baby! Phyllis is a mother to us all.

  11. I was just about to head off to the hairdresser--any hairdresser--today, having reached Phase One. You would have thought I'd learned my lesson a lot of years ago when I went through this. My recent very short pixie cut was fabulous, but it grows way too fast. Haircuts are not $15 anymore, and I've trimmed it myself a few times, but after reading your article and having a wonderful laugh, I've decided to soldier on toward a more manageable inverted bob. Thanks!

  12. This is just what I needed! I have had my pixie for almost a year and I am over it. I have not gotten it cut in almost two months and I feel like an amorphous disaster. Only 14 more months to go until I become easily identifiable as a woman from across the room...
    So glad I am not the only woman with this terrible situation occurring in my life!

    1. Just when all hope seems lost, you will be able to one day gather it in a pony. HOLD ON!

  13. I know this was written last year and it's technically considered "stalking" to comment on blog posts that old, but I just had to let you know this is the funniest thing I've read in days - NAY! Weeks. And you've scared from my mind any longing glances at Michelle Williams' haircut. It's for the best.

    1. Ummmm, I'm obsessed with stalking! I wrote a post all about how I can't stop stalking!

      Anyway, glad you liked it. :) If that haircut is in your heart, go for it. You can get through any Chapin life throws at you.

  14. Holy sh*t, yer freaking HILARIOUS! I am at the "Prince Valiant" fact, I could dress up as prime 70's John Denver and not have to do much to pull off the hairstyle (shudder). My mirror and I are not getting along right now.
    Thanks for the literal Laugh Out Loud from RAQNROLL

  15. My brothers just called me Prince Valiant this weekend (I'm in a phase 2). Evethough pixie look I've got last summer was one of my best decisions (blond hair + soft tan + perky outfit), growing back my hair is such a struggle! :p

  16. Id rather stay quiet. but, your hair looks AMAZING! seriously. fantastic. i know it must be hard becuase you are used to your short hair, but from an outsider's perspective it looks really good.. For more info look at this now.