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My mother always preferred shorter hairstyles on girls and would always comment on how lovely it looked on actresses and the like in a desperate bid to persuade me to try something new. I knew she would never make me, we had a good relationship and apart from the joking threats of chopping my hair off if I didn’t get it trimmed/washed/brushed; there was no real threat in her words.

 

It didn’t stop me worrying about it though. As a 14 year old girl it seemed like losing my hair would be worse than death. I decided that a) I must avoid all ‘dangerous’ situations i.e. never leave scissors next to the bed, make hair appointments myself, and b) if the worst happened I would run away and never come back.

 

I was a good girl, did well in school, had nice friends, I wasn’t particularly pretty as my teeth were a little goofy and my colouring was fair yet freckly. My hair was about half way down my back, a light red, brown colour with a slight wave in it. I didn’t particularly love the colour of my hair nor my low hairline and ‘cow lick’, but having it long at least made me feel feminine and I wouldn’t have to worry about people mistaking me for a boy.

 

It was August. School holidays here in the UK and like most Saturdays I was helping out at my local riding school followed by an hour lesson. Afterwards, as normal, my mother would pick me up. This particular day I felt quite tired when she came to get me, I must have been coming down with something but a nap was a long way off as my mother said she was ‘getting her haircut’ and ‘would I mind waiting’. I told her ‘no’.

 

When we arrived at the salon I took a seat and my mother went off to get her hair done. About 15 minutes later one of the stylists came over with her client to exchange money. The client had lovely long hair, a bit shorter than mine, which had just been styled with some soft layers and a side sweeping bang. It looked lovely. The stylist must have noticed my admiration as once the client had gone she mentioned that she had had a cancellation and that she would do my hair for half-price if I wanted. I thought about it for a minute making sure that this wasn’t some kind of trap (I had been watching my mother and she had not spoken to this stylist at all since arriving) and then accepted.

 

She took me over to the sinks where she hung a cape around my shoulders and begun to wash my hair. When she was done we made our way over to the styling chairs where I explained that I would like a similar ‘do’ to her previous client. The stylist agreed after saying how much it would suit me and then proceeded to chat about my day and the horse riding.

 

I was starting to feel even more tired so picked up a magazine and found a story to keep my interest. I can’t remember what it was about but it was long and interesting. I kept looking at the stylist who was lifting sections of my hair and trimming the ends. She said she was going to work on the back first. I felt at ease and non-suspicious.

 

About 15 minutes and a few articles later my mother came over. I gave her a smile but as she reached us she turned to the stylist. The stylist then said ‘is that short enough?’

‘Very nice’ said my mother, ‘but wouldn’t it be easier to use the clippers now the secret is out and she is about to realise?’

I froze. Was this a joke? I had been sure that this wasn’t a trick; id watched the stylist trimming the ends. Surely I would have noticed if she was cutting my hair short?! I raised my hand to the back of my neck and hovered, frightened to touch. When I did eventually move my hand towards my head I cringed as I felt soft, bristly hairs bounce off my fingertips. I ran my fingers upwards from my nape and was surprised how quickly the short hairs bounced back. I wanted to cry, I couldn’t speak.

 

‘Shall we show her’ the stylist said to my mother lifting a small mirror up above my head. I didn’t want to see but decided that maybe all wasn’t lost and that if there was still enough long hair at the top and sides I would be able to make a run for it and wear my hair in a ponytail until the back grew in. I trembled; a small tear leaked its way from my eye. The hair was short and boyish and far too much had been cut to save the rest of my long hair.

 

I sat there silently. I was shaking but in to much shock to cry or scream or protest. I heard the stylist snap the clippers on. She tilted my head towards the floor and started shaving up the back of my head, shortening what she had already cut by scissors. The clippers vibrated against my head and I felt all the short hairs go electric as they passed upwards.

 

Next she pulled the long hair on the top of my hair in to a ponytail and clipped it out of the way. ‘SNAP’ went the clippers and she nestled then at the front of my head, above my ear, and pulled them back. I looked in the mirror and saw the path they had eaten away, long strands of hair tumbling on to my lap. It didn’t take her long to finish this side and move on to the next. She then held the mirror up to show me the finished back and sides. As if id be impressed.

 

Th
e stylist let down the hair on the top of my head, it tumbled down and all of a sudden a face I recognised faced me in the mirror. The hair felt light and strange laying on top of the short and I had a feeling that I should take a good look at it now as it wouldn’t be there for very much longer. She started combing it up in sections and then slicing it off with the scissors about two inches from my scalp.

 

At last the cut was done. It was very boyish, slightly military, even with two inches of hair left on top. The stylist brushed my neck and removed the cape and then told me I could stand. I couldn’t move. My mother had to see to the bill and then drag me from the shop. She said that she just wanted me to try it and that she didn’t know how else to persuade me. She said she never intended for it to end up as short as it did.

 

On the drive home I kept glimpsing myself in the rear view mirror. The hair on top had already started to curl up into a wave which just looked hideous. I looked like a boy from the olden days. The car pulled up at home and I ran inside. I spent two hours in my bedroom crying and staring at myself before making my way into the bathroom and shaving the rest of myself, forgetting to use a guard.

 

Ill never forget it.

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