Self Portrait with Beehive

I'm ready for my close up.

I wanted to cut my hair, but I couldn’t. Not until after I got married. My hair was as long as it’d ever been, skimming my nipples in the shower and reminding me daily of my senior portrait. Reminding me of some girlishness I wanted to escape, and all its pressures, too.

I don’t know when I became obsessed with the beehive. It just happened one day, and afterward I could hardly imagine another hairdo for my wedding. Nothing could be more sophisticated, more retro, more “me” than wearing a beehive and a tea-length fifties style gown to my wedding. That was who I was meant to be. That was me as my best self. There was only one glitch: I was still waiting for my partner to propose.

I have gorgeous hair. It’s thick and wavy and once, a friend told me at her own wedding, that my hair was beautiful and was the type of hair that made other women jealous. She was wearing a flower headband in her pixie cut, her smile was almost painfully broad, and she seemed happier than I’d ever imagined she could be. She looked so beautiful.

I felt ready to be that beautiful. But more than that, I felt so ready to be done with looking beautiful. My hair weighed on me. I couldn’t wear a hat because it was impossible to put my hair back in order at work. I couldn’t wear it down on days when I went to the gym at lunch for the same reason. I wore it in a messy bun almost everyday because I couldn’t think of a damn thing to do with it anymore. I wanted the beehive and then I wanted it gone.

I waited for the proposal. And waited. We talked about getting married. He wasn’t ready and wasn’t sure he ever would be ready. He was keeping me from my beehive. More importantly, by keeping me from the beehive, he was keeping me from my post-beehive life: the life of the pixie-cut.

That was the life I wanted to get back to, the life I’d led the last time I’d cropped my hair so short. Studying abroad at Oxford, I was walking four miles a day past centuries-old stone buildings to and from class, making friends from across the globe, studying theory and ancient texts, and cooking for myself for the first time. I’d never been as much myself as I was that year. I’d never felt as sophisticated or comfortable as I did with my fresh pixie hair.

Post-wedding, I was going to make the big chop. Like my mother, like my best friend, like many other women I knew, I was going to grow my hair long and beautiful for the wedding, and then chop it off as a ritual transition to my life as wife. The life in which I would effortlessly meet glamorous friends, finally publish my book, and actually get good at cooking.

I had some fairly high expectations for myself and my wedding and our marriage, I guess.

Then, as suddenly as my obsession began, I realized my wedding wasn’t the only place to satisfy it. Sure, a beehive isn’t really a hairstyle I could pull off at work, but my cousin’s wedding was coming up. Plenty of people have their hair done for other people’s weddings, right? I could be one of those people! The dress I bought for the wedding would be perfect with a beehive. So I booked an appointment. My wait was ending.

I arrived at the salon armed with photos. The stylist seemed genuinely excited to try it out. I sat under a hood dryer for the first time in my life and, despite the intense heat or perhaps because of it, I felt like a real woman. My grandmother had gotten her hair done once a week for most of her adult life. I’m sure she would have been right there next to me, if she’d lived to attend my cousin’s wedding.

After drying like a raisin under the hood for two hours, I was in for an hour of painful teasing and prodding. I know the stylist was trying to be gentle, but I have a sensitive scalp and the pulling and pricking hurt. I realized, looking at the crinkles in my forehead, that this wouldn’t have been such a great way to start a wedding day.

But the finished product was gorgeous. I felt stunning as I grabbed a cab (a luxury almost as rare as having my hair styled!) down to the hotel to meet my family for the wedding. I couldn’t stop touching it in all its hairsprayed stiffness. Throughout the event, I admired it from multiple angles with my smartphone and accepted compliments on it with a grace I hardly knew I possessed. I was beautiful. The wedding was beautiful. The next day, taking out each pin and every tangle, I was so glad it was over I booked an appointment for The Haircut.

I still look beautiful. Sure, the new cut shows off some gray patches and probably ages me unnecessarily. I’m still not totally sure what to do with these newfangled bang-things I have in the front. But, the girlishness and weight of my old hair are gone. I feel serious and happy and ready for my next adventure, which right now, isn’t looking like marriage. And that’s okay. I still have plenty of new friends to make, a book to publish, and some cooking skills to master.

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  • Ella

    This is very appropriate, since I just did my wife-chop on Wednesday. I cut off almost 10 inches of hair. I did like my long hair and I kept it long for almost a year post-wedding, but DAMN does it feel awesome to have short hair! It hasn’t been this short since high school. I’m still getting used to the hair (and, you know, being someone’s wife).

    • I went with a pixie cut 8 weeks ago, just over a year after our wedding. I felt like for those 14 months post-wedding that I wanted a ponytail and never went shorter than chin-length, but *wanted* so badly a pixie. And I really love it. I haven’t worn my hair in a pixie since I had it all cut off in college and yes, it feels AMAZING for me to have this short hair. It’s just so much more “me.”

    • Meg Keene

      Pantene Beautiful Lengths???

  • Jade

    I’ve barely ever had long hair, even as a child I went through school with a rounded bob. But I keep falling in love with the look of long hair as I see other women walk by me, their ebony locks cascading down their back and I think “that could be me!” So I give long hair a go and realize no, my hair does not cascade, it breaks and tangles and turns into a million flyaways. Then I chop it all off and the cycle starts all over again.

    Except now I’m marrying a guy who likes how I look with long hair (we met when I was in a “that could be me” phase). Plus, wedding. So my hair has been long for longer (hah) than I would have normally let it last. My plan is definitely to chop it off post wedding, and also to dye it cobalt for added extra celebration of being a wife.

    • Ella

      Don’t rule out extensions. I could not get my hair to grow as long or as thick as I wanted, and I ended up getting clip-in extensions and they looked amazing. Literally no one knew I had extensions until I told them. I got the look I wanted, even though my hair isn’t naturally as full or as long.

  • Ashley

    I’ve always had short hair and after college/pre-wedding I was determined to keep my long, dark flowing hair. I got so many compliments on how long it was and how healthy and I hated it. I had no idea what to do with it, it took forever to dry and tangled like nobody’s business. Last week I had enough and finally cut it short. The first thing out of my mouth was how much more myself I looked. The past week has me feeling back to normal, almost. Well, normal enough for getting used to being a wife.

  • Estherhasi

    Where does the tradition of post-wedding/post-baby hair chops come from? I’ve long wondered why women attach haircuts to big life events.

    • Ashley

      For me it’s an outward change to go along with what is an inward change. I know that becoming a wife is very outward but to me it’s also very personal and intimate and I feel different and want to look different too. I’ve always dyed my hair or cut it when I felt different or needed a change. It’s less drastic than moving or starting a new job.

      • River

        I’ve never dyed my hair, but yes – it’s about wanting to reflect an inward change, I think. As I said above, I finally got bangs after we got engaged – I was just feeling braver, I think. And my bestie got the most stunning pixie cut after her engagement. :-) She looked like Audry Hepburn at her wedding <3

      • Meg Keene

        Yeah. David actually put the breaks on when I was like “I HAD A BABY I’LL CUT OFF ALL MY HAIR.” Oh right, I don’t even know why I decided that would be a good idea.

        • Lauren from NH

          Actually the baby cut I kind of get. I can imagine thinking, “Fuck looking hot being extra work right now! Momma’s gonna rock this pixie cut because Momma’s got shit and sleeping to do!”

          • Alyssa M

            Plus the babies like to yank on hair thing. I’ve never been a fan of disentangling little grabby fingers.

          • Lauren from NH

            My younger brother loved to “twirl” (technical term – not) hair. He loved to twist his fingers all through our hair (my mom, sister and I) until he had created a knotted dread. Untangling that HURT! To be fair he would twirl his own hair too. My mom kept it long on him and he got mistaken as a little girl more than once. What can I say, the kid had awesome hair!

          • Alyssa M

            Hah! My brother liked to twirl hair too! Only his was kept short and he still twirled it. Instead of knots he ended up giving himself a bald spot from twisting out the hair when he was four.

          • Meg Keene

            I was all, “life’s hard enough. Damn if I’m not gonna look cute.” Your mileage may vary.

        • River

          I hope Z does that for me one day, because I can totally see having that thought – and then being miserable for a long time if I acted on it.

      • Estherhasi

        There has to be some pretty interesting psychology related to hair and big life changes and historical pressure to do certain things. It fascinates me how women I would never expect to, suddenly drastically change things like haircuts after major events.

        • Ashley

          That would be fascinating to research.

    • rys

      I’m not sure, but I’m committed to keeping my hair long as I age. I was scarred by the imposed pixie cut of my youth (oh I hated it!) and once I grew out my hair, it’s been various lengths but never shorter than could be in a ponytail. I plan to be one of those women who has long white locks (the whites have already started). Jane Goodall and my 8th grade English teacher are my models.

      • Bets

        Me, too. When I was a child I could never understand why all moms had (the horrible 80s permed bush of) short haircuts. That said, I will be overdue for a haircut by the time my wedding rolls around, so I may have to do a chop — but then I’m growing it out again!

        • sara g

          My mother has had the 80s permed bush haircut ever since I was born. I have literally never seen her with any other style.

        • Now that my hair has turned curly and unpredictable, this is the look that I sport when I wake up in the morning. Hence growing out my hair for when my baby comes.

      • Emily

        I feel this way too. I’m also committed to never dying my gray (glad you mentioned Jane Goodall). I’m in my late 30s and I already get comments on how much I have. I say it is proportional to my hard-earned wisdom. :)

      • Another Meg

        I’d like to gray out naturally, too, but I’m not graying yet. I’m golding. I have light brown hair and I’ve been finding course, dark blonde hairs popping up. They are weird. But I’ve been getting really good at various braids so I can keep it out of the way when kidlets arrive.

        I have an idea of why women cut their hair after the big events. Here’s my theory- many women want a fancy ‘do for their wedding, so they grow it out to make sure there’s enough to achieve the style they want. Then they chop it off after the wedding because they’re sick of their unusually long hair. And one common bonus of pregnancy is that prenatal vitamins can make your hair and nails grow really strong. If I were in that position, I would totally grow my hair out. And I’m guessing it’s common that after babies, many women don’t have the time they might have had before to maintain their longer hair so they just get rid of it.

        • swarmofbees

          When I was pregnant, my husband asked if I was going to cut my hair short after I had the kid. I had no plans to, but I found it interesting that he had picked up on this trend. Otherwise, he is not a particularly fashion savvy individual.

          • River

            Hah! That is an adorable anecdote.

      • Amie Melnychuk

        I am also keen to keep it long. I want to be the old baba with her grey hair pieced out of a french braid or a top knot. I want it long and white.

        But right now, I’m going blonde. Seriously, the last grey hair I had was when I was 8. All the “different” hairs now are showing up golden in my brown locks.

      • Alyssa M

        My partner’s aunt has long white hair abd really rocks it. I personally find it really entertainingly subversive. Everybody tells older women that they can’t do long hair, so screw them! Do what you want!

        The haircuts for big life changes is weird to me too. I mean, babies kind of makes sense, the only post baby haircuts I’ve known were “omg if this baby pulls my hair one more time I’m going to shave my head!!!” kind of things. But the post wedding thing is dumb. My long hair has been part of my identity since high school, but for some reason lately I’ve been thinking I should chop it off after the wedding. Why??? I have no idea.

    • up_at_Dawn

      I think many women grow out their hair for their wedding (not at…but a good portion of them). So even women who had previously been comfortable with shorter hair, or who want to try having shorter hair feel like they need long hair to be a “proper bride”. I know women who usually kept their hair above shoulder length (or shorter) who couldn’t cut their hair until after the wedding for whatever up-do/veil thing they had in mind.

      This doesn’t apply to everyone of course.

      On a completely separate note: break-up hair cuts. They happen. When you feel different I guess you want to look different.

      • Meg Keene

        Or as we say: a) Rock your short hair for your wedding, fuck the proper bride noise. And/or b) cut it off after and give it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. #boom #done

        • Ashley

          That was the most surprising part of cutting off my long hair…the 10 inches I was able to donate! It still makes me smile to think that someone will benefit from something so simple.

        • Alyssa M

          Curious if there’s a reason you prefer Pantene Beautiful Lengths as opposed to other hair donation charities? I’m not sure they would accept my hair, because it’s dyed…

          • Meg Keene

            We’ve worked on long term partnerships with them, and ones we’re really proud of. Our staffer shaved her head and we documented it last year. You can see that here:

            That said, once we started researching we were SO GLAD to be partnering with them. They’re the only charity that doesn’t sell hair to make money, and if you’re donating your hair, you usually really want it to go to cancer wigs.

            That said, they don’t take dyed hair (I’m not sure anyone does), or grey hair (same), so I’m also out, double time.

          • Alyssa M

            Awww, I really wish I could donate to Pantene, then. I know locks of love sells hair, but I also think they accept dyed (but not grey) hair. I’m considering cutting off at least a foot of dyed hair in a few months… I hope I can donate to SOMEONE…

      • SarahG

        Yes, I think this is the case for a lot of my friends. They didn’t want to make any sudden moves when it came to exciting haircuts in the lead up to the wedding, and they usually wanted some kind of updo or to at least have a lot of hair to work with. And then afterwards they were like UNGH get it off me!

        My wedding hair thing is actually about a friend who has just finished chemo and surgery for breast cancer. She has thin, patchy hair (wears a wig for special occasions) and is really self-conscious about it, to the point where she turned down doing a reading for our wedding because there would be more photos of her. She’s really stressing because I want a photo of us together. Makes me sad… to me she is a fighter and survivor and her hair is evidence of this. But that’s easy for me to say of course.

        • River

          Oh man, that is breaks my heart! Have you told her that penultimate line? Because even if it doesn’t change things for her, it might be a good thing to hear. Maybe you could both wear awesome British-style wedding hats for the picture? Or something fun like that?

          • SarahG

            You know, the British-style hats are a fantastic idea… maybe we could rock that. She doesn’t really like having attention drawn to her, is the issue, because I was all like “pink wig!” “turban!” and she’s like… I want to look like how I used to look, not “wacky”. I get that. I have definitely told her she’s a survivor and she looks amazing, but not really connected it to her hair; I’ll do that. Thanks!

          • River

            Good luck!! I hope it helps :-)

      • Katie

        BREAK-UP HAIRCUTS. Oh man!! The one and only time I had bangs! They were actually super duper cute, but all my friends refer to my “bang period” with horror in their voices still, so I don’t think I’ll ever be allowed to have them again. Everyone would run screaming.

        • up_at_Dawn

          I liked my bangs right up until they grew out enough to start poking me in the eye- no more bangs.

          • River

            HAHAHA yes that is very annoying. I’m learning to trim ’em myself.

          • Alyssa M

            Man, I look freakin awesome with bangs. It’s my favorite haircut, but I HATE HATE HATE maintaining them! My partner is now opposed to bangs on me cause he’s sick of the complaining.

        • Aubry

          Oh man, everyone wants me to have bangs! excepting my sage hairstylist/bestie. I have very curly hair, like ringlets but not super tight ones, and my hair gets curlier the shorter it is. so bangs = tiny bang ringlets (OMG just say no to bang ringlets) or daily straightening or (likely) daily twist and pin back until they grow out!

          • laurasmash

            Bang ringlets. I have been there. I had curly hair when I was in middle school and my mom thought I should get bangs to cover my big forehead. So there was a lot of hairdryer+round brush time in the morning, only to have the bangs turn back into ringlets by lunch. Never again.

          • Sarah

            No! Don’t do it! I have curly hair as well and have had to give up on my dream of ever having a fringe. Unless you straighten it (NOT going to happen in my case) it just looks terrible. In my next life I will have straight dark hair (as opposed to curly red) and get a cute 60s style haircut with a fringe –

      • Glen

        I grew out my hair for my wedding because I hate the way stylists have done my lots of somewhat-wavy, baby-fine hair into faux updos. Maybe it was just the early ’90’s, but I’d always end up with this poofed-up helmet hair. Shoulder-length hair allowed for a lovely updo for my wedding, and promptly was cut off afterwards because somewhat-wavy + baby-fine = sticking every which way yet still not long enough to stay put in a pony-tail.

        Post-baby, my hair went from chin-length bangs to pixie cut all over simply because I didn’t have the energy to spend 10 minutes with a blow-drier followed by a straight iron.

    • Lauren from NH

      I shaved my head when I decided it was time to yank myself out of my epic high school depression. It was pretty awesome and effective. In college grew it out and then about a year out, cut it to a very very short asymmetrical bob and now it’s growing again. After I cut it the first time, I learned how quick my hair grows and how fun it was to embrace the change, so I think I will continue to cut it short and grow it out in cycles, but not necessarily tied to life events. I just love it both ways, my hair is very adaptable.

      • River

        It’s funny (well, not haha, but strange) that a physical change can help guide one out of depression. I did something similar in college – got a piercing.

        I love that you’re embracing a cycle with your hair! Would love to see pics of your different looks :-)

        • Lauren from NH

          I don’t have any pics of the original shaved head look. Depression and high school were not great times for self documentation lol. But if I can figure out how to throw some pictures up…

          Approx. 2008, 2011, 2013

          • River


            You are right, you look fabulous both ways! I especially dig the long, windswept bangs in the third pic.

            P.S. DIMPLES. Ahhhhhdorable.

    • MisterEHolmes

      I just cut mine chin-length after my June 14 wedding…but it wasn’t anything psychological. It’s summer and it was really hot and I couldn’t figure out what to do with it.

    • Alyssa M

      My friend just brought up another life change haircut event: The coming out haircut. I feel like that one was more common among my friends than even breakup haircuts…

      • SarahG

        Oh god yes. I had a bad haircut that turned into a butch haircut, and everybody assumed I was finally doing my coming out haircut. (I was already out, btw). I kept getting lots of “Hey, way to go!” and I was like “um thanks but this was a total accident and I actually hate it.” I love short hair on women, but it was terrible on me. Super gay though :) I got more women hitting on me than ever else in my life!

        • Alyssa M

          Haha, my friend cut off her hair just because she was jealous that short haired women got all the ladies she was interested in. Luckily she looks adorable in a pixie cut though.

    • Kestrel

      At least for me, I’ve been waiting for a while to chop off my hair, but I cannot imagine my wedding day without my signature long hair (it’s only down to my bra strap, but it’s been there for my entire adult life and the vast majority of my childhood)

      Actually, seeing taylor swift’s latest music video (shake it off) now really makes me want to get a haircut like hers because I loved so many of the styles in that video!

      As for after baby, babies like to grab things. Like hair ;)

    • I’m keeping my hair long for as long as I can. The women on my mom’s side of the family lose their hair. At about 50, my mom cut her hair short because she could no longer keep a pony tail in it. So while I am sometimes bothered by the weight of my hair and the routine of caring for it..but then I remember that soon enough it will be gone (I already have half to 2/3s less hair than I did when I was 20. *sigh*)

  • You just described almost my exact situation right now! After watching my aunt and coworker go through cancer and lose their hair this year, I’ve decided that I’d like to grow out my hair to donate it and get my first pixie cut ever. I normally keep my hair just past chin-length, so growing it out has been annoying me. I was going to chop it at my last haircut, but my hairdresser informed me that I still have a couple inches to go before I will have enough to donate. Although it’s not a complete deterrent, I can’t help but weigh the decision in the back of my mind to delay cutting my hair until after I get married because I don’t know that I’ll love how I look with short hair, and I don’t want to be stuck with it on that day. My partner has been telling me for the past couple years that he wants to marry me, and has spent the last year working on some mental health issues to get to the place where he’s actually ready to be engaged, so it’s entirely possible that this could be soon,,,but entirely possible that it might not be, Regardless, I’d love to see some pics of your pixie cut – and anyone else who has one! I’ve been looking for stylish inspiration, since this whole endeavor slightly terrifies me.

    • Here’s what I look like most everyday now. APW has some GREAT ideas for short-haired brides here:, and I’ve pinned some non-bride pixies here: (plus a lot of Kate Middleton – sorry I’m not sorry – and, duh, beehives). I hope other people will share their pictures – I LOVE seeing how short hair looks on different women.

      I definitely understand being worried about it, but I will say that I feel more like myself and more beautiful than I had in years and years. It was totally the right choice for me, and if you make it, I hope it will be the right one for you!

    • Guest

      Ooops, let’s try that picture business one more time!

    • Good grief – I am no good at technology! Sorry for all the deletions and additions here!

      Here’s what I look like most everyday now. APW has some GREAT ideas for short-haired brides here:, and I’ve pinned some non-bride pixies here: (plus a lot of Kate Middleton – sorry I’m not sorry – and, duh, beehives). I hope other people will share their pictures – I LOVE seeing how short hair looks on different women.

      I definitely understand being worried about it, but I will say that I feel more like myself and more beautiful than I had in years and years. It was totally the right choice for me, and if you make it, I hope it will be the right one for you!

  • Rora

    Ha, I swore I would never be one of “those girls” who grew out her hair for the wedding. Especially after being… gently encouraged by a friend to grow out a short cut so I could have an updo as her maid of honour. So guess who’s eagerly awaiting the day she can chop off all this dead weight?

  • River

    I loved this essay! I have insane (re: mixed-race, improbably reddish) curly hair. There is a ton of it, always has been. For something like 6 years I talked and talked (and talked) about how much I wanted curly bangs. And then I would let my friends or my doubting demons talk me out of it – “you already look so young” “what if it looks super 80s?” “your forehead isn’t long enough.”

    Once we got engaged, I realized that for me, at least, it was now or never. I knew I had about a year to grow out the bangs for the wedding, if I hated them. So I did it.

    AND I F-ING LOVE THEM. I feel more myself than ever. So yeah, I can totally get behind not waiting until after the wedding or the proposal, as the case may be.

    • Meg Keene


      • River

        ERMAHGAD, I am geeking out that you asked me for a picture! ;-)

        Here I am at my bestie’s wedding in April!

        • River

          Hmmm…One more try?

          • BB

            I LOVE them! Now I want to try some, too!!! Do they require a blow dryer or something so they don’t stick to your face while drying?

          • River

            Thanks :-) Nope. I use clips at the roots (all over) to keep the incredible weight of it from killing my scalp while it drys. If I have time, I put a dryer hood on – but I usually air dry it overnight. Not comfy, per se, but it does work.

          • Hannah B

            Freaking adorable. I love your hair!

          • River

            Thank you, Hannah!

        • The bangs look GORGEOUS on you! (The dress helps. So does the champagne. And especially the enormous smile.)

          • River

            Thank you :-) yeah that was a wonderful wedding – could not stop smiling.

        • rys

          Love it! Your hair, bangs and all, is gorgeous!

          • River

            Thanks, rys! :-)

        • Lauren from NH

          B-E-A-UTIFUL! and rock them curls!

          • River

            Thank you, Lauren :-)

        • vegankitchendiaries

          BABE ALERT.

          • River

            <3 Thanks, Vee.

            Also, how did you find this pic today?? Coincidence or sleuthing? Internet magic??

          • vegankitchendiaries

            Actually, I had just went to revisit that article as it inspired me to make an appointment for my recent big chop :) Nothing too creepy… this time.

          • River

            Hahaha awesome-sauce :-)

  • Joy

    Seriously considered doing the “wife chop” but decided it’s not for me now. I love how I look with long hair, I love my hair long so why cut it?

  • neighborhoodmap

    4 weeks from my wedding, and sometimes I’m honestly not sure what I’m more excited for — being married, or cutting my hair to my chin.

    • ART

      I was in the same boat. I love my shorter hair! I was glad I had it long for the wedding (I wore it down) but it was really getting in my way.

  • Bets

    Beautiful writing! I’m now happily trawling through your website and discovering your work, which is a joyful way to spend my friday morning.

  • Lisa

    I’ve been thinking of chopping my hair short for a couple of years and doing the 8″ donation. I was planning to do it back in January with 10 months until my October wedding, but my stylist advised against it because what if I didn’t like it and couldn’t get my hair back to the right length in time? (Curly hair takes 100000x longer to grow out, it seems.) SO I’m planning a post-wedding haircut for the Tuesday afterwards once my stylist is back in the salon. The idea is very scary (kind of like marriage!) to me since long hair is all I’ve ever known. I’m interested to see who this wife me is and what she will look like with significantly shorter hair.

    • River

      I hope you hit us up with a post-wedding, post-donation picture :-)

      Re: curly hair takes 100000x longer to grow out -> preach.

      • Lisa

        Will do! :)

        My straight-haired friends all look at me like I’m crazy when I try to tell them that. With a 5-6″ spring factor, my hair has 3x as far to go as theirs!

  • Caitlin_DD

    What a fun read– you go for rocking the beehive once! I live in my pixie, like you, and am growing it out for the wedding because FH wants to see me with long hair at least once. We’ll see if I re-chop afterward, but that seems to be the idea now.

  • sarah

    I love this. This is one of the best APW essays of all time.

    • Aw, now I’m blushing. Thank you!

  • I feel weird that I’m growing my hair out for my wedding, since I’ve been insistent on the rest of my “look” being as “me” as possible. I am very uncomfortable in heels, so I’m wearing flats. I don’t like wearing white, so I’m wearing blue. Veil? Not me at all. But for some reason, every hair style I can think of that I could do with my hair at its normal “me” length isn’t one that I want for the wedding. It’s not about looking bridal, exactly. I don’t know what it is.

    So for the past year, I’ve been letting it grow, and for the first time since college, I can even braid it, and I’ve gotten compliments on it, and all I want to do is CHOP CHOP CHOP it all off.

    • up_at_Dawn

      Whenever my hair hits my shoulders, I get the itch to cut it all off again. I just feel more like me with short hair. It’s at my chin right now, I’m not really sure what I’m doing for the wedding yet, but I still have some time to decide.

    • Eh

      Years before I got married my hairstylist was talking to me about this. She was saying that she was advising women who had short hair to not grow out their hair if it wasn’t them (it’s not you on your wedding day and it can be pretty frustrating to do and it’s something that you have to live with for a while). I think that we need more images of short wedding hair.

  • Until my senior year of high school I had butt length hair that drove me nuts every day. It seemed I was only keeping it around for my mom. So my senior year I had it cut into a crisp bob and have loved it ever since. That is, until the last couple of years where my hair has started to get unruly and unpredictable waves. So I had it cut a bit shorter, and then added some bangs and it was good for a while. And then I got pregnant and I realized the weird looking bed head that besieged me every morning would kill me during the first few sleepless months with my baby. So as of now, due in December, I’m growing my hair out so that I can tie it in a ponytail my the time my baby is born. I’m getting to that borderline awkward stage of just past chin length. I’m sure my further future sees me back with my bob and hopefully more time to DO it, but ease is master right now.
    Oh, and as much as I LOVE this essay – before and after pictures please???? Beehive to pixie!

    • River

      I second the call for pictures!

      • I’ve always wanted a bob, but my hair is too wavy and will not behave in one and I just do not have the patience to straighten it everyday. I bet you’ll get back there one day soon, and in the meantime, rock that pony tail!

        And here are a few pictures. Despite being so wound up in my hair that day, I actually didn’t get many good photos of it! (I guess we were all focused on the bridge and groom and having an amazing time – ha!)

        • ugh ,yeah that’s the thing with short(er) hair for hair is so thin and wavy that when my hair is short, I have to style it every day vs. when it’s long and it can air-dry and the weird waves are more okay and beach-y looking or something. but im envious of girls that have the perfect hair for short cuts.

          • Wavy short hair can be such a pain in the ass. Sigh.

        • River

          HOORAY thanks for sharing!!! You’re adorable. And I really love both of these looks! In the pixie pic, you look like Amelie!!

        • Adorable! Funny how we get all dressed up and hot looking for other people’s weddings and then we forget to document how awesome we look! I looked amazing at a friend’s wedding and it’s like I wasn’t even there. Sigh.

          • It’s so true. I mean, obviously other people’s weddings aren’t about *me,* but it’s rare that R. and I have a chance to get all fancied up AND be in the presence of professional photographers. I’d love to have just one really great picture of us!

        • Colline

          You look fabulous in both! And props for realizing that you control the dream, not some external force. I realized that about flowers after being single for years. The world didn’t come to a giant crashing halt if I just went and got what I wanted. $25 bouquets are worth getting for yourself, and last longer than an manicure (at least for me).

          • Thanks! And I totally agree on the flowers. Life is too short to wait on the things you love. Make it happen for yourself!

  • lady brett

    “My hair weighed on me… I wore it in a
    messy bun almost everyday because I couldn’t think of a damn thing to do
    with it anymore.”

    ha, yes! also, i *love* this whole piece.

    i cut my long, long curly hair off about 2 years ago in a fit of insomnia and hair-rage. i’d had my hair long for over 10 years and was coming to despise it…but i was terrified of getting it cut (change is hard, y’all). one night at about 2 am i just put it in a ponytail and chopped it off. not the pinnacle of good mental health, but i *loved* my short hair for a while (and i did manage to clean it up into a cute cut before work that morning =).

    now i’m growing it back out, which is a process i despise.

  • I loved this essay. That is all. :)

  • ProperBride

    I had been growing my hair long for my wedding, but a week before the wedding I chopped it, because I feel at my best with shorter hair. I felt awesome and beautiful – best decision!

  • Ally

    Excellent choice in the photo for this post as it’s Audrey Hepburn day on TCM! <3

  • Cait

    I grew my hair out for the wedding, thinking I needed the length to do some amazing braided crown. On the day, turns out my hair was too long, and my stylist ended up tucking all the excess away anyway.

  • Cat

    I’m cutting mine within 48 hours of being wed. It’s long now because… well, my mom. It’s going to make her Happy to do my hair, and the long hair style that is ME needs more, not less. Also, this is the longest it’s been in ages and I’m hoping it will be long enough to donate. I miss my short hair, but am glad that I have the wedding hair as extra motivation for keeping it long enough to share with someone who needs it.

  • Stephanie B.

    I grew my hair longer than normal to wear it in an updo for the wedding, but not to be fancy. I get ridiculously hot really quickly, even when it’s cool out, if I’m busy zipping around and getting shit done and/or when I’m the center of attention. Like, say, my wedding. So even a short cut (chin-length; not pixie) on me ends up getting all hot and sweaty underneath, and then I get annoyed that I can’t put it in a ponytail to get it off my neck and shoulders.

    So — for real — I grew my hair out for a wedding updo *just* because I knew it would be completely up and off my shoulders and neck and would greatly reduce the odds of me getting sweaty, manky hair. And it pretty much worked until the dancing part of the night, at which point all bets were off and sweaty was the name of the game.

  • Great article Kristin! I had long hair for my wedding but it was down and wavy. I read an article about how your hair should like similar to what it always does on your wedding day (aka no fancy updos etc). My hair is still long and I likely won’t cut it. I look too much like my mother with short hair. Haha

    • That has been one adjustment – looking A LOT like my mom. haha!

  • Jess

    Ha! I just cut my hair about a month ago, so I totally feel this piece. I had been feeling kind of stuck lately – not where I want to be professionally, financially….I needed to change SOMETHING. I had had long hair for many years but became obsessed with the idea of a faux hawk. Because, FAUX. HAWK. I finally chopped it all off in July and I absolutely love it. I feel more me now, and like the possibilities are endless! It’s amazing that changing something as small as your haircut can cause such drastic emotional reactions.

  • Daisy

    Such a great article. I have always had long, curly dark hair which I have struggled and struggled to manage. Straighteners, creams, regular blow-dries… I’ve spent so much money, time and thought on my hair over the years (which seems insane when I write it down but was totally justifiable at the time). 8 months ago I was finally brave enough to have it all cut off and now I can’t believe it took me so long! I have gone from spending 1-2 hours washing and styling my hair to 2 minutes. I can go for a run without worrying about having to factor in time to wash my hair quickly afterwards, I can go swimming, I can walk in the rain without getting panicky about my hair… the list is endless.

    My boyfriend proposed 6 weeks ago. All the areas of wedding planning have been so exciting but I have been nervous about what to do with my hair. I don’t know why but I have always felt most glamorous and feminine with long flowing hair and I didn’t think I would feel sufficiently ‘bridal’ if I kept my hair short. And then I realised it was happening again – I was spending time and energy worrying that my hair would stop me looking ‘right’ on the day. That is precisely the thinking that I have felt freed from since I cut my hair back in January. So I’m keeping it short and simple – just right for me. (It helps that my boyfriend loves the short hair too)

  • LisaG

    Lovely. This reminds me a bit of Kate Harding’s article “The Fantasy of Being Thin” (You should all read it, it’s about the idea that suddenly everything right will happen in your life if you can just lose weight – “When I’m thin I’ll find the right partner, when I’m thin I’ll write my great novel, when I’m thin I’ll throw awesome dinner parties, etc.” When really those things have nothing to do with your weight and you should just start working on them now because they will make you happy.) So this post to me sort of read as “The Fantasy of the Married Pixie Cut,” because the author was waiting until marriage to live the life she wanted, until she figured out she could have the beehive, then the pixie cut and whatever else she wanted without/before the marriage.

    I chopped my hair off at the end of college as a sort of last-hurrah. By the time we got engaged it had grown out to shoulder-length, but I was craving short hair again. Friends/coworkers told me I would want it long for the wedding and I believed them and started growing it out. A few months later we decided to postpone our wedding for 2 years, so I went ahead and cut my hair, figuring I would still have time to grow it out if I wanted to. Well, I loved my short hair so much that I kept it for the wedding! In the past I would cycle through cutting my hair short, growing it for a few years, and then chopping it, but right now I’ve had my hair short continuously for almost 3 years and I’m not even considering growing it out. I have very thick hair, so even if it thins a bit as I age, I think I will still have enough to grow it long if I want to. I’m kind of hoping to be one of those older women with a long grey/white braid down my back, no dying, no curly short grandma hairdos.

    1) 2007 – long hair
    2) 2009 – end of college pixie cut
    3) 2013 – more or less what my hair looked like for the wedding – asymmetrical undercut.

    • I love your cut! And I definitely want to check out that book – thanks for the recommendation! I actually lost a pretty significant amount of weight between high school and college, and I was surprised at how much it really did change for me – more confidence, mostly, and everything that comes with that – but I think now that it probably had more to do with starting college than with the weight loss.

      • LisaG

        Thanks! It’s almost certainly my favorite style I’ve ever had. (I was just telling my stylist that I hope the undercut stays in style a while longer because I love it. She gave me some great advice that I am definitely going to take: “if this is YOUR style, you can keep wearing it for as long as you want.”).

        Here’s the link to the Kate Harding article I mentioned, I usually re-read it at least once a year, it’s that good: (should have just included it in my original comment!)

  • Eenie

    I just chopped off ten inches to Pantene beautiful lengths. I originally was waiting cause I wanted long hair when I got married, and I thought that might happen in the next year or two. I finally decided it didn’t really matter and I’m rocking the short hair.