During my senior year of high school, I chopped off my hair. It hung right above my shoulders, with the back shorter than the front. It was winter in New York City. The dry air and the vain American conveniences allowed the change to be quiet manageable.
After rocking the bun for fourteen months in Cambodia, I was just tired of the sweat and density of liquid my hair was able to hold during a normal 90 degree day. So I decided to do it, chop it off, chop it off, chop it off.
A good ten inches fell. My Khmer hairdresser tied it in a ponytail before cutting it (so I can either sell it for some cash in Cambodia or bring it back to the States to donate it). She then held it tight and told me how she wants it. She wants it, as in she wished her hair was thick, long, and full -- and not the sense that she wanted to bring my cut hair home to be worshiped on a shrine. Despite that clarification, I do want to make it clear that she was extremely devastated about my decision. She asked me countless times before we started if I was really sure. In the middle of the process, she told me she did not want to cut my hair anymore because she was sad about it.
I think she had a harder time than I when it came to parting ways with my dead cells.
When some of you asked how my students reacted to the change -- nothing much. In Khmer culture, you usually do not say anything if you do not have anything nice to say. It's a way of saving face.
I have become quiet good friends with the copy lady at school. She likes to compliment my outfits (particularly on the days when I wear excessive amounts of color because I was not fully awake when getting dressed that morning to realize the horrible decision I was making), but she was less than happy with my haircut. She doesn't speak much English and I don't speak much Khmer. She just pointed at my hair, shook her head, and made a less than pleasant face. Non verbal communication says a lot more than words. We only get 7% of meaning from words, which means I should probably give up this blog and texting. (Michelle educated me on that since she is currently teaching a communications class. When you live with a teacher, majority of your conversations are filled with segments of "Fun Facts!").
Having long hair as a girl, whether thick, curly, crimped, dyed, or layered is considered beautiful. The longer your hair, the more beautiful you are as a whole. What is just important as hair for a girl's beauty in Cambodia is skin. The lighter your skin, the more beautiful. The best is transparent paper white. Gorgeous.
Let's just say, I am the perfect Khmer ugly & I like it!