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Breakup and \"life-changing\" hair? This reforming beauty addict is putting her foot down once and for all

Breakup and "life-changing" hair? This reforming beauty addict is putting her foot down once and for all

Cut loose

Text: Emily Heng


"I should do something new with my hair." Eight words, 31 letters, and a common refrain on my part, a self-proclaimed drama queen. It's a moment that typically follows after I've undergone some misfortune or the other. Failed driving test? Hack six inches off my mane as a distraction. Boyfriend woes? A new hair colour is in order. Passed over for promotion? Better make sure it sticks by getting a mullet.

Fact is, I'm not alone in my impulsive choices. The life-altering hair change-up is so commonplace, it's become a trope in movies and TV shows. SATC's Carrie Bradshaw dyes her hair dark after Mr Big leaves her at the altar; Hannah from Girls acquires bangs upon hitting rock-bottom; while 90's hit drama, Felicity, has their lead going for a cathartic chop post-breakup. A marker of change, it is often portrayed to be a moment of empowerment, a way of reclaiming one's strength and sense of self.

But that's just one way of looking at it. On the flip side, it tends to perpetuate this mindset that life, too, should be significantly changed in the wake of one's physical transformation. The first time I experienced this, I was 15 and fresh out of a disastrous breakup. For some misguided reason or the other, I decided a pixie cut was in order. I ended up with a crop reminiscent of Justin Bieber during his Baby era alongside a crushing sense of disappointment that nothing was really different about my life.

Unlike Laney Boggs from She's All That or Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries, I wasn't whisked away by Freddie Prinze Jr. or asked to govern a small European principality. I was still stuck in the same emotional state as before, in the same place I was before, bingeing Ben & Jerry's ice cream and feeling bad about myself — except I was sporting fresh new locks while I was at it.

So yes, the movies lied. And to state the obvious: modifying your hair doesn't fix your problems. Sure, it can be healthy in the sense where you're now rocking tresses that are reflective of your new, evolved personality, but it can also set a dangerous precedent where mauling your mane (ha) is thought of as a solution. In my case, it served as a sure-fire way to avoid processing my emotions. No, I can't work through any lingering resentment I have towards my ex because I have to find pomade to tame my newly sheared bangs. Can't talk through my hurt either, because I need to hunt down a hair oil to save my bleached-brittle tresses.

If you, like me, have let your hair bear the brunt of your emotional turmoil over the last couple of years, it's probably a good time as any to break the cycle. Instead of subjecting your locks to another round of chemicals, heating tools, and scissors, try these on for size instead:

#1. Hit the gym

I didn't think I'd ever say this, but exercise-induced endorphin highs are a thing. They're real, and I love it. Sure, you can't force yourself to be happy about your current circumstances, but you can trick your body into thinking it is. This is all thanks to brain chemistry that trigger a positive feeling in the body whenever you sweat it out, reducing perceptions of pain and leaving you feeling significantly energized after. I'm not even making this up. It's certified science, folks. Failing that, you can also cry during Zumba and pretend it's sweat. Win-win!

#2. Make plans with friends

When in doubt, turn to people who have it together. Their presence will prevent you from a) needlessly obsessing; b) reaching for the scissors/home dye; c) doing something destructive like contacting — and letting — a toxic figure come back in your life. There's also something very comforting about being around someone who has their affairs in order. If anything, it's a reminder that one day, you might get on their level.

#3. Get a new hobby

A non-hair-related one, preferably. Whether it's a new skill that you can put on the résumé (learning a new language) or something that brings you unbridled joy (watching everything on Netflix), the important part is that you have fun with it. As long as you're not thinking about whatever terrible situation it is that put you here in the first place or doing your hair dirty, you're good.

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