I cast my gaze to the side, watching as the long black piece of hair falls gently to the ground. My mom said she’d liked my long hair, the way it billowed on a windy day and how it swung from side to side in a ponytail.
Those days, I thought, were long past gone. I’d come to the hairdresser’s today with simple directions to chop it all off. She looked quite shocked, but she was in no position to raise an objection- I was a customer willing to pay anything to be rid of it. Her face mirrored the one my mom had worn once I told her the truth.
She had a tough time accepting I was no longer the daughter she’d thought I was. My dad was much more open, but to be rejected so quickly by the one who had carried you for so long is an unbearable pain. Perhaps I thought severing what she once cherished so dearly would be a panacea.
Behind me, the hairdresser eased off, grabbing the broom, and sweeping my old remains into a black bucket to be disposed of. Erika sneaks up from behind and places her hands on my shoulder, now unevenly shadowed by my hair. “This is a good change.” She says as she places a small kiss upon the crown of my head. In the mirror, I smile as my eyes meet hers. The hairdresser comes back and readies her scissors as Erika returns to her seat. Her eyes shift back outside, her deep brown eyes reflecting the sunlight casting through the shop window. I return my gaze to my lap as the hairdresser instructs me to bow my head.
A year ago, I’d never planned that I’d leave behind what I had once deemed so precious, but it was shockingly easy to make the cut. Erika and I had only recently moved in together, and although it had been some time since I had told my parents, my mom still refused to come to our house blessing. My dad told me she was still grappling, but I had my doubts. Perhaps it was a mistake to tell her.
But the deed is done.
The hairdresser wipes her brow and smiles with a blow dryer in hand. She blows out the ends and the crown of my head, moving each piece of freshly cut hair into a new place. “Come take a look sweetie.” She says as I lift my head. With a smile, she positions the mirror to the back of my head. What was once hair below my breast was now reduced to high above my shoulders.
My gaze turns towards the floor, covered in a black mess of my former self. Tears form at my eyes, but not before Erika once more reassuringly places her hands on my shoulder. Sensing my emotion, she turns to the hairdresser and tips her, “Thank you so much.” She says calmly as she removes the hairdressing gown and helps me up. She turns me to face the mirror, to face myself fully and who I truly am. “What do you think?” she asks, stepping back and allowing me
I hesitate. Never in my life had my hair been above my shoulders, the person before me was almost unrecognizable, yet familiar. It like I’d known
her all this time, yet this was the first time I’d seen her. My eyes continue to well up, “I look like my mom.”
Erika smirks and tilts her head. “Is that a bad thing?”
I tuck my hair behind my ear and look back up to meet my own eyes, feeling some renewed strength. Perhaps it’s soon time to face her again. I wipe my tears and shake my head. “No,” I start, taking a step towards myself, “it’s beautiful.”
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WUSA recognizes that much of the work we do happens on the traditional territory of the neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The land we work on is covered by the Between the Lakes Treaty, No. 3 (1792), and this region is still home to First Nation, Inuit, and Metis peoples from across Turtle Island. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work, play and live on this land and acknowledge that it is our collective responsibility to make our community and world a better place for all people. We acknowledge that educational institutions have not been a safe space for Indigenous students in the past and we continue to work to ensure that this is no longer the case. The work towards truth and reconciliation is ongoing, please do your part and take time to learn more: TRC 94 Calls to Action | MMIWG Calls to Justice Report | Native-Land.ca | Student Supports & Clubs