Kate Williams explains how cutting her hair short for the first time at 40 meant she no longer recognised the face in the mirror.

I was so upset that I covered my head with a scarf all the way home

I’ve always loved short hair on other women. They look smart and stylish and sleek. Which is not me – my hair is unruly, unpredictable.

I don’t think I come across as very smart, either, but I could never see myself without long hair: pulled straight, it has reached past my lower back since I was 11 or so.

My great-grandmother had red hair so long she could sit on it, and as a child I wished mine would grow that long too.

Then earlier this year, at the age of 40, I decided to cut it off for the first time in my life. There were two reasons. For the past few years, my research as a historian had been all about the 1920s, and I had become entranced by flapper girls.

“I was so upset that I covered my head with a scarf all the way home”
My writing had been influenced, too: my new novel, Edge of te Fallis set in that era, and my heroine, Celia, becomes a flapper. For women like her, short hair meant freedom.Really, I’d known for a while that I should cut it, at least a little. When I started doing TV appearances, make-up artists commented that it took too long to ‘do’ – most women on TV have shorter hair – and last year, one said, ‘At some point, you have to make a choice between TV hair and real hair.’

As I sometimes thought my hair looked untidy on TV, I knew the make-up artists were right: I had to do something – and if that meant shutting my eyes while I was at the salon, so be it.

Happily, I had work to do on my iPad, so I focused on that rather than all the hair falling to the floor.


Kate with her newly cut hair Photo: Courtesy of Kate Williams

Then I looked up and everything was gone. My hairdresser had cut off even more than I had asked him to – which was justice, I suppose, for my not paying attention.

I felt like a different person, and completely exposed. I was so upset that I covered my head with a scarf all the way home.

My partner, though, said he liked it and my three-year-old daughter thought it was hilarious that the hairdresser cut more off than I wanted: nearly a foot went. I went from having it way down my back to it being just below my ears. Over the next days, people were surprised – but very kind.

‘I don’t know whether I am up to the next challenge: if I can bear to keep it short’

They said they liked it, but I felt sure they didn’t. I missed the feeling of it on my shoulders.

Having long hair had been part of my identity, and I didn’t know who was looking back at me in the mirror.

I tried to tell myself it was only hair, but found myself googling ‘how to make your hair grow’ (chicken dinners, silk pillowcases and no brushing, apparently).

In Tudor times, they thought you could stimulate hair growth by washing with crushed beetles or shaving your head and rubbing in ‘the grease of a fox’. That seemed like going a bit far.


Kate before the big cut, with her Pre-Raphaelite hair Photo: Courtesy of Kate William

Now, a few months on, my hair has settled down and grown a bit. I like it more now, even though I do keep pulling it to shoulder level.

It’s growing back in better condition, and it is certainly quicker to make look tidy – I am much more popular with make-up artists, too.

But I don’t know whether I am up to the next challenge: if I can bear to keep it short…

Has one day changed your life? Email us at: info.tkbesh@gmail.com with your story.

Story source/Credit: Telegraph



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