Short hair, still care: Is cutting your hair liberating – or terrifying?


They say that short hair is liberating; they say it's only for the gamine and small of feature; they say it's what women do when they turn 35. I disagree with every one of those statements. For me, short hair ended up being both a hurdle and a goal – and though I definitely have moments where I long for something to play with while I'm on the phone, I would highly recommend going for the chop at least once in your lifetime. Rosemary Mac Cabe short hair

I've had short hair before...

If we start at the beginning, I've had very short hair twice before. First, when I was born (chortle, chortle) – and again, at the age of 12 when, spurred on by my mother, I went into the hairdressers' and asked for a number 7 blade. It would be "very handy for the holidays," said Mum, and I fancied a change – I wasn't hard to convince.

As it happens, it was a mistake. It wasn't that it didn't suit me, per se, but I was fickle and began to grow it out almost immediately. Entering secondary school in Rathcoole with a Justin Timberlake 'fro (and a very posh accent) meant that making friends was, er, a challenge, to say the least.

Rosemary Mac Cabe short hair Third time's a charm

By the time I cut my hair into its most recent iteration, I'd had almost 18 years to recover from my last follicular faux pas. I also did it in steps – from long curls to a shorter, more "directional" 'do and, finally, to the pixie cut, thanks to Katherine and Suzi at Preen*.

I did it because I never thought I could do it, and that seemed like challenge enough. Let me explain: I've been chubby for pretty much my entire adult life. Recent weight loss had a few fairly predictable results – I enjoy shopping more, I walk places more, I feel less stressed at the idea of going on holidays / to the pub – but some were more surprising. For example, chub rub is still a thing. How unfair.

Once I lost weight I realised that my hair – my long, curly, sometimes pink, hair – was a kind of cover-up. I always joked that I didn't like tying my hair up, because it exposed too much of my face, which was round and chubby, and needed to be hidden away. My hair was a sort of hidey-hole.

Rosemary Mac Cabe short hair

The decision to go for short hair

Once I started losing weight – and keeping it off, by some miracle – I decided that I would go for a pixie crop. But not yet; I'd go for it when "I reached my goal weight". That way, I could keep it on the long finger, while still dangling it as a possibility. (My boyfriend, of course, was not keen – what is it about straight men and long hair?)

There were two conversations, though, that led to my taking the leap before I'd quite got there. Firstly, I was talking to my therapist about my incessant belief that I was "on the way" somewhere – that the me of tomorrow would be better than the me of today. "Where are you trying to get to?" she'd asked me. "I don't know," I'd replied, "but I'll know when I get there."

The second was with Preen's Katherine. I made the mistake of telling her I was considering a pixie crop, "but, y'know, when I lose a bit more weight." She pursed her lips for a second and gathered my hair up in one hand, off my face. "No," she said. "Don't wait – let's just go for it. See? It'd be nice." She was right – it did look nice.

Rosemary Mac Cabe short hair

I'm wearing: Coat, Missguided (sold out, similar here); shirt, Zara; T-shirt, Asos; Jeans, River Island; Boots, (sold out, similar here); Necklace, Ottoman Hands at Asos (sold out, similar here).

Regrets? I have a few

I won't act like my journey to short hair has been without its wobbly moments. For starters, I notice, immediately, if I've put on weight – in a way I never thought was possible. Within about three days of over-indulging, I'll start to see a puffiness in my cheeks. By that same token, my face is a great incentive to lose weight, so I guess that's a plus!

Then, of course, there are the moments when I see long-haired women on Instagram (Sarah Angius is a particular obsession) and I'll suddenly think, oh God, I'd love to have long hair again. I expressed this thought to a friend yesterday, and she said, not unkindly, "Yeah, but just imagine that growing-out period."

The thing is, I don't need to imagine it – I've been through it already. And, though it didn't kill me, I'm not in a huge rush to repeat the experiment. I may, one day, go back to long but, for now, #shorthairdontcare.

Photo credits: Anouska Proetta Brandon

* The team at Preen tends to my tresses FOC; in return, I (almost) always credit them when I post a close-up headshot on my social media. They have never asked me for anything in exchange for their services.

**This coat was a gift from the team at Missguided; they asked only that, if I included it in a post, I let them know.

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