Stylish Trail Haircut – Revisited

Demi doesn't have to worry about sticks and bugs in her hair.

Demi doesn’t have to worry about sticks and bugs in her hair.

Chalk this one up to another change of heart. Way back in the beginning of September – when I was still shocked by my own proclamation that I’m going to quit my job and hike the Appalachian Trail – I said that I was going to chop all of my hair off since it would be easier to deal with that way; and I thought it’d be less likely to get/stay wet, giving me a chill in cold weather. I figured it was a basic enough resolution. I wasn’t deciding on my pack or even my budget; I was just talking about snipping my hair.

I was really surprised by how much attention this post got. Second behind my introductory post, Stylish Trail Haircut has gotten the most views and comments in the history of my (young) blog to date. It seems that people are really attached to their hair (giggle, pun intended), and everyone has an opinion on the topic. Who knew?

At the time, I thought it was silly. It’s just hair. It grows back. But then all the feedback started. My older sister urged me not to.

Lauren: Jor, you don’t look good with short hair.

Jor: I’ll be hiking in the middle of the woods, so it doesn’t matter. This is the only time in my life I’ll have the guts to do it.

Lauren: But are you going to want to get a job when you’re done?

Jor: Yeah, what’s your point?

Lauren: Appearances matter during an interview.

Jor: But it’ll have grown out a bit by the time I finish my trek.

Lauren: Like three or four inches. Have you ever had it that short?

Jor: Yeah, it’s on my driver’s license. The picture’s from like ten years ago. See, look.

She takes a look at my driver’s license and then turns it around to show me the picture.

Lauren: If I were interviewing you and you walked in looking like this, I wouldn’t hire you. You’re ugly as F&*%.

Lauren is this huggable. How could you not just want to eat her up?

Lauren is this huggable. How could you not just want to eat her up?

She’s so compassionate and endearing; how lucky I am to have her as a sister. With such a well articulated argument, how could I demur, right?

And yet I persisted. I decided on a pixie cut, which is super short but on the feminine side. But the comments continued. My friend Chris,

“You have curly hair. You will never have a pixie cut. It will be a fro. Call it what it is!”

After thinking on it long and hard, my main argument began to crack. I kept telling myself that I didn’t care what I look like. I’d rather not have to deal with my hair. But, the thing is, I guess I do care. Sitting alone in moments of quiet reflection, I thought about how grimy I’ll be walking through the woods for days on end.

Given the historical ratios, I’ll likely be surrounded by equally grimy men most of the time, and I’d rather not be mistaken for one. I know there are plenty of reasons that would never happen (or at least two: reference my previous post Over the Shoulder Boulder Holder), but I started to whimper at the thought of aggressively seeking the “ugly” look for my hair. (This isn’t an attack on women with short hair. I just happen to look terrible with the style.) I suppose I could always pull it back and/or under a hat.

OK, fine, I’ve said it. I’m not going to chop off my hair.

So, knowing that I’m not going to lop it all off, I recently went to my hair stylist for a cut. Despite living in DC for over five years, I still go back to Virginia Beach to get my haircut. More accurately, I only get my haircut when I’m visiting Virginia Beach because my stylist Janna is a family friend, and she knows how to cut curly hair (if you find one of those, you keep her!).

I need one of these for my keyboard. It conveys so much.

I need one of these for my keyboard. It conveys so much.

Since she cuts my mom and sister’s hair regularly, Janna knew of my A.T. trek plans. When she asked what I was going to do with my hair for the trek, I told her of my initial plans and then of my recent reversal. Her response:

“Good. There is no way I would have turned your hair into a pixie cut. It would have looked terrible. I would have outright refused. I couldn’t force you not to get it, but I wouldn’t have done it for you. You’d have had to hire someone else to massacre your head.”

As I’ve learned, everyone has an opinion. You just have to know when to listen. Alright, alright, I’m listening. I won’t G.I. Jane my hair. Instead, I’ll frolic through the woods with long flowing (er, maybe grungy) locks.

Meandering on,



13 thoughts on “Stylish Trail Haircut – Revisited

  1. I’m kinda bummed they got through to you. You gotta do what YOU want, and, if necessary, make your own mistakes. But you’re also free to be dissuaded, so I guess the point is moot. (But still, do what you want!!)

    • No, really, I got through to me. I resisted all their arguments. For me the biggest factor is – whether they acknowledge it or not – people really do judge based on appearance. If I’m trying to catch a ride or otherwise elicit the kindness of strangers, I don’t want my hair to be a hindrance.

      So, have no fear! I’m doing what I want.

  2. Just remember, hike your own hike. In my opinion that also goes for hair. My wife loved it when I had a giant bushy beard and messy hair, but recently as I train for a triathlon, I have been taking 2-3 showers a day and spend at least 3-5 hours in a pool, so the hair had to go. It is taking some adjustment, but a 5 minute shower and clean beats 15 minutes just to wash hair. Good luck

  3. You know, I have really had a lot of thoughts about my own hair. People are attached to it (yeah, I said it too) and they are attached to ideas about how they think they are supposed to look.

    I’ve had so many issues with this. Losing it was one of the best things for me mentally, and yet I still have a mental block about letting it get short again. I just think I look best with it medium length. I guess I need it to frame my face. Anyway, I’m not going to let my husband get his way with this, it’s my hair (he wanted it super short again; I think I mentioned we met a year after my chemo, and he’s one of those men who like short hair on women, go figure!). It’s medium-length now, and I think I love it! I can still pull it up into a ponytail. They’re great! I also use the medium-sized clips most days, or I tuck it under my ears. But no bangs anymore! Yay for that. Those are too annoying and distracting, don’t you think?

    • Oh, yeah, I definitely need my hair to frame my face. It downplays my chubby cheeks. I’m sure your husband would rather see you happy about your hair than grumbling with it short (maybe?).

      And bangs aren’t just annoying and distracting for me. They’re atrocious! Curly hair is not meant to have bangs. When I was growing up, I was forced for years into having bangs, and they always ended up curled around the edge of my forehead. Awful. Awful.

  4. My cheeks used to be quite chubby. When I had to have all my wisdom teeth out a few years ago (all in one day, *never* do that!! horrible!!), now I kind of have cheekbones, but the rest of my cheeks are still chubby. I think they just look weird. I think I just look better like this. I’m on Facebook, with my long hair before I got it cut, if you’re curious. I need to update my profile picture, though, with this new thing I’ve got going on.

    Sounds like you grew up in the seventies and eighties like me. Bangs were just what the moms wanted then, weren’t they?

    By the way, I am so jealous of you! if I could, I would love to just pack it in and live by myself sometimes. A through-hike would have been the ultimate time to myself to think. I’m glad you’re doing it.

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