Hard Times Hair

YouTuber Rachel Cantu dyes her hair while having a mental breakdown. Many people dye their hair when they are attempting to move on from something that was painful in the past.

You’ve had a hard week. You were just dumped by your significant other, your mom is mad at you for whatever reason it is this time, and your grades are dropping dramatically. You’re feeling more overwhelmed than ever before. You can sense your sanity gradually slipping from in between your fingertips like the clean beige sand on the Oregon beach. The obvious conclusion is that you need to start over. You want to feel refreshed and gain clarity, kind of like that feeling you get right after an annoyingly long, hot shower. So how do you get to that point? (Hint: No, it’s not a shower).

You’ve made a decision. You’re going to change your hair. Drastically. 

If this sounds like you, even just once, then I am officially (unofficially) diagnosing you with what I like to call, “Hard Times Hair.” 

We’ve all seen it before. The red, tear-stained faces cutting off their long, beautiful locks in a storm of rage, anxiety, or sadness. Its demonstrated by Hannah Baker from 13 Reasons Why, Deb in Empire Records, and Richie of the Royal Tenenbaums. People change their hair when they’ve hit rock bottom. Even on television. 

So, what makes changing our exterior appearance so appealing in these crucial moments? Georgia Najarian (11) says, “I think that when I change my hair, it feels like I am emotionally changing something to the point where it feels like I am allowing for a new beginning.” 

Cutting one’s hair can often result in a feeling of evolution because our hair is something that we hold with us for such a long time, as it’s such a large part of our lives. When we cut or dye our hair, we feel that we are cutting out a bad part of our life, and the change allows us to finally move on. 

This applies to breakups as well. “I feel like this can be especially in a relationship sense. It’s a feeling of moving past something, and I’m doing that by cutting off all my hair because that’s a symbol of old me or the person I used to date,” says Mel Charles (10). People cut off people like they cut off their split ends. So if someone is cutting off or dying their hair after a relationship with you, this might mean tough luck for you, buddy.

Hair is extremely important to human psychology. If you think about it, it is what we carry with us at all times. Our hair has seen our ups and downs, our ins and outs. Changing how your hair looks can not only affect how you see yourself, but how others see you. Ruby Zelinski (10) says, “at first I cut my hair to be different and push against the norms, but then it became a thing that people would stereotype or define me by.” Altering your hair can also be a way for a person to let the world know that they are different. Something that happened to them, maybe even in one especially emotional day, changed them. A lot. 

Not to start another paragraph with a pondering question, but let’s just think about how this works for addressing problems. Is it a valid way to go about it? Is it safe? Although someone cutting their hair emotionally can often signify emotional damage, it is one of the better ways of grappling with one’s issues. Najarian states, “I mean, as far as coping mechanisms go, it’s a pretty healthy one. And hair grows back, so just do what you need to do.”          

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