By: Sasha Dhesi
How many bad haircuts have you gone through before you settled on the one you currently have? If you’re anything like me, your hairstyle choice reflected something about you as you grew out of adolescence into this awkward post-child/pre-adult purgatory. The way in which we present ourselves can say a lot about who we are, after all.
I distinctly remember my first truly awful haircut. It was 2010. I had turned 13 a few months before and I had just seen (500) Days of Summer. The only thing I took from that movie was that Joseph Gordon-Levitt likes girls with straight bangs, so I decided, against my better judgment, to mimic the hairstyle. I remember looking into the mirror after the haircut, only then realizing that a simple hairstyle was not going to make me look like Zooey Deschanel, although I wasn’t going to admit that for another two years.
Whether we like it or not, we say a lot about our identities by the way that we style ourselves. After all, what are our aesthetics but the simplification of the self into a presentable, marketable thing? It’s well known that our teen years are spent developing our identities, creating the image that we feel best represents us without being alienating. Aesthetic choices are a big part of that, and the way in which we present ourselves ultimately speak volumes about the people we are.
I remember looking into the mirror after the haircut, only then realizing that a simple hairstyle was not going to make me look like Zooey Deschanel.
After that disastrous haircut, I decided to grow my hair out so I could donate it. As my hair grew, my tastes changed, and my look reflected that. Gone were the bangs and ill-fitting jeans of pre-adolescence, and in were the polka dotted dresses and acne-hiding locks. As I grew more and more fascinated with the styling of films like Amélie and the 1962 version of Lolita, my style grew into an obnoxiously cutesy fit, complete with bows, polka dots and oxfords. It’s safe to say that literally no one took me seriously from age 14 to 16.
A lot of people fall into the trap of believing that our ideas are permanent. The person you are now isn’t going to be the person you are a year, month or even a day from now. You learn new things about yourself, you encounter new experiences and you grow as an individual. Chances are that your style is going to reflect that. Don’t run from it, lean into it.
A few months before my 18th birthday, it was becoming increasingly clear that no one was going to take me seriously if I looked like an extra from a Wes Anderson movie. So I did something drastic and chopped most of my hair off and into a little chin-length bob, a harsh style when mixed with my naturally dark, straight hair. I learned two tidbits of information from this: unless you’ve done it many times before, cutting your own hair will only end badly and will require a trip to the hairstylist anyway, and your family members will freak out when they see that their almost adult relative has decided to play with scissors like a five year-old. I’m still glad I did it; the bob suits me and works well with the sleek silhouettes that I opt for now.
Our stylistic choices reflect the person we want to be perceived as, and that can say a lot about who we are. The Internet and social media add an interesting layer to this, as there’s probably a tutorial out there to perfect any look imaginable. It can be pretty frustrating sometimes seeing these 12-year-olds with perfectly curated Instagram grids, but I’ll manage. After all, in a few years, these same 12-year-olds will be berating themselves for their poor tastes as they continue to grow and evolve into the people they’re going to become.