Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Rapunzel I Ain't

In the end it was a cocktail of fatigue and shame that brought me to the bathroom mirror, staring vindictively at myself, a pair of scissors held menacingly toward my ponytail not unlike a murderer moments before he slits his victim's throat.


I returned to the YMCA a few days after Christmas to begin running again after a self-imposed "holiday break" that, truth be told, began long before the holidays. A man walked into the gym. Not particularly cute, mostly only noticeable in comparison to the octogenarians who generally frequent the joint during my hour of running which also happens to coincide with The Price Is Right, which, as everyone knows, is a program the elderly very much enjoy, Bob Barker or no.

He wasn't cute and I'm married and yet, as I left the building I found myself dismantling my work-out ponytail to... To what? Catch his attention? To see if I could catch his attention? Probably the latter. A gal who is getting on in years can't help but notice whether the boys are still watching. Shameful in and of itself, that.

I was annoyed, and yes, even embarrassed by my shallow behavior and as I drove home one thought rankled above all others. The desire to be appreciated physically is fairly harmless but the fact that I resorted to letting down my hair in a desperate bid for attention from a stranger really bothered me. Rapunzel I ain't. And is that what I'm about? Hair? Is that what I think makes me sexy? Hair? Is that my big go-to move? Swishing my stupid bleach ass blonde hair around?

Long hair. As if that is what makes a woman attractive or even womanly. But it was instilled within me very early on when, in junior high school, I considered cutting my hair and a friend's mother told me that men only like women with long hair. She knows who she is and her denials will fall on deaf ears as the fact that she has had long hair her entire life will betray any protestations otherwise.

This woman went on to say that if two women are walking down the street the dude will turn to check out the long-haired girl every time. Mind you, this was twenty years ago and I have no idea whether she still subscribes to the same theory, and who knows? Maybe she's right, maybe she isn't. I'm no dude. Nor do I give a rats ass if a dude is checking me out... Or do I? My behavior at the gym last week would suggest otherwise. But I think this woman is on to something as the fact that 9 out of 10 supermodel types are long-haired vixens.

So my attachment to my hair really started to piss me off. The fact that I was afraid to cut it made me madder still. And then thinking about all the time, energy and money I've devoted to hair... Well, that just sent me over the edge. It's just hair. It doesn't define me. And yet it has. For more than 30 years.

And so, this afternoon, with my son as witness, I took matters into my own hands. Perhaps I'm having a nervous breakdown. Maybe I'm more sane than anyone else although that's highly doubtful.

Whatever the reason, I am certainly feeling out of sorts. I'm sure at some point in the coming week I will flip out and wonder what the fuck I've done... But again, it's just hair.

Reader Comments (27)

bad ass! love yr spunk. photo?

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterats

So right. "It's only hair" is one of my favorite sayings. Whenever I get the urge to butcher the shit out of my locks i tell myself this as well. I usually tell this to whomever is performing the carnage for me. They're always freaking out. "Do you really want to do this?" yes hag. I do. Commence please. I've had that ponytail lopped off more times than I can count, and it always grows back. And it's there until I get sick of it again. And again. I'm pretty convinced that it has never made me less of a woman because it's shorter, or more of a woman if it's long. You rock Monica. Now maybe some Fire Engine Red highlights?

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelli

You're so cool! It's definitely liberating and cathartic to cut all your hair off!
Can we see a picture?

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA

Are you going to donate it? Change is good. You rock!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTania

Do we get to see the new hair?

I usually go for a drastic hair cut when the rest of my life feels out of control. I can control the hair!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwindylou

Wow, that was gutsy! And men DO find women with long hair more attractive (from what I hear). Maybe some guys can weigh in here.

Do you have to go to the hairdresser's now? Can we see a pic?

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbec

Yep! So true, it's only hair. I'm a white girl myself, but I find India Arie's song, "I Am Not My Hair," so inspiring. I bet you will too, Monica.

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBEllen

I've worn my hair short since I was six years old. I have insane curls, I call it an Irish fro, that is a huge pain in the ass to manage. One day, after playing outside, I came in with branches and leaves stuck in the curls and my mom just sat me down and cut all my hair off. I've tried growing it out a few times as an experiment, but seriously, it's not attractive and it's a pain in the ass to take care of. If people want to subscribe to the Disney bullshit that long hair makes a woman, then I feel sorry for them. And I really dislike moms who refuse to cut their little girl's hair because "long hair is so pretty and girly." If your girl wants short hair, let her try it. Look at Halle Berry or Michelle Williams, Mia Farrow, Winona Ryder: all are incredibly feminine women who could rock a short do.

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

i'm betting short hair looks lovely on your delicate features :-) have fun with it!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranother monica

Sell it on eBay!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSouthernMan

I don't think my hair defines me, but I've had long hair since I was old enough to take care of it. My hair is curly and as one of 8 children, my mother didn't have time to deal with it and always cut it extremely short - the 'do was called a "pixie" back then. I used to cry when she cut it because it just didn't FEEL right to me - and my hair is so curly I tend to look like a poodle when it's short. At 50+ maybe my long hair is a deep-seated rebellion against Mom, but I don't think so. Long hair just feels right to me. And it feels even MORE right since I stopped fighting the curls and ended all the ironing, reverse perming, blow drying, setting it on huge rollers, etc. Now I wash it, spray it and sprunch it. That's it. I'm at peace with my curls and they with me. I love, Love, LOVE Wylet's curls, BTW!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkimtisha

I've done this 3 times before. I'm currently seriously contemplating doing it again. It's always fun. I can't wait to see the results!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterD


January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersweetney

don't freak out, hair grows.

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersaz

I would LOVE to chop mine....the shortest I ever went was just above my shoulders. But I just don't know how it would look with my face shape, which is kinda rectangular with a bit of a weak chin. (Hot, right?) Any good recommendations for a site where you can "try on" new hairdos? It's such a big commitment and I am chicken shit!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteryotko

I cut mine very short after ending a 7 year relationship. I had always wanted to do it but had never had the nerve until then. I thought, what have I got to loose? Well, I hated it short. It just did not go with my round little face! I looked like a chubby little boy with my short hair. But it did grow back! And then there was a time after the extremely short period when I wore it in a bob, which I liked, until my husband told me that I had "mom hair." Since then, I've worn it pretty long and will continue to do so as long as possible. I am worried that long hair may begin to look foolish the older I get (I'm 40 now). When should an older woman cut her hair?

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

Wow- what a pic of your tresses... "it is said"----> men grow their hair long to show their independence and woman CUT it short for that same reason.

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

It's not a full moon so you must be obviously pms-ing? :P

I like you and have read your blog for years now. I was surprised when you got bitchy toward me on Facebook and then I did too. I'm sorry and I really hope you and your family have a great and prosperous new year.

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn

I'm a 46 yr old Philly white guy with a ponytail and I enjoy your blog daily. I used to wear my hair short on the sides and long in the back - sort of a business in the front party in the back look. It's also curly. Well for the past 6 months I've been trying to grow out the sides so it all comes together in the back. Without gel I often look like bozo the clown lately...which is giving me the urge to chop it all off soon! It's just hair!

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Holy shit is right! Nice work. I love the video, especially with the clock ticking in the background. Good stuff.

I think you look hot and you've now made me think about cutting my hair. If I do it, I'm telling my husband it was because of you.

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTarable

Dear Monica, don't mourn your hair! I know it's painful ,because our hair is so much part of our persona, but of course as everyone's saying, hair does grow back.
Your new cut is not super-short, and it;s all one length, so it will grow fast. Think of it as a little holiday for your hair. The way it looks to me is swingy, free and cute -- & maybe with some some wispy bangs?
You're lucky-- I think you would look good no matter how long or short your hair was.

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTamsin

something I learned the hard way: long hair does not look good on me! I grew mine out so it was officially "long" last year, and I hated how I looked when I wore it down.

I just lopped it off recently, into a chin length bob. I get compliments everywhere I go, and for the first time in a long time, I've noticed men looking at me.

go figure. I guess I'm meant to be a short haired girl!

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy

That was GUTSY! Loved the video -- right in front of the mirror...almost did it, no, wait. Then almost again, but no. And then you took the plunge! I get so annoyed by all of the people who insist that men only find women with long hair attractive. I agree with Amy -- I get checked out by all kinds of men with my very short hair. I looked like hell with long hair. Men find women who look attractive attractive. And if you feel good about your look and give off the confident, sexy vibe, men notice that. You looked great with long hair (but taking care of it...oh my God -- what a PAIN! I don't miss that part of it at all). I'm sure you will look great with shorter hair too! Congrats on being so bold!!

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

I frequently alternate between long-ish hair and short short hair. I get bored. But everytime I cut it off, I always find myself thinking how much better I like my hair short short (pixie style). So this last time I cut it off I decided to hang onto the feeling that I like my hair better shorter and run with it. Thus far, I have done so. My husband also likes my hair short, so that makes it easy. In the end, do what makes you happy. It will always grow back, so if at this point in your life you feel like it needs to be short, rock the short. And if later you feel like you want to grow it back, rock the long. Because after all, it is only hair.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Q

As a fellow female, I feel comfortable saying that we've all been there! I've had my hair shorter, longer, bleach blonde, red, black - the whole nine yards. Good for you for taking matters into your own hands. And I just saw your self portrait too - looks great on you! :)

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

I just did this same exact thing, with a similar style -- it's cut shorter near the neck and cascades a bit longer just above my shoulders -- and, as long as you can still pull it back in a ponytail, you're all good, psychologically speaking. Chopping one's hair off is such a rad, bad ass thing to do:-) Enjoy the feeling of your new bob - i guarantee you'll apreciate how easy shampooing will be, and the freedom of rinsing and running. I have a five month old and, so far, am LOVIN my sexy shorter cut. Enjoy yours too, Mama. :-)

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Lynn

Badass. I cut all mine off at the end of a horrifying relationship and have never looked back. It took me awhile to find a wash-and-go hairstyle (as ponytails are now not an option), but other than that, short(ish) hair is great. And now people tell me I have a nice face instead of having nice hair, which is not bad. At all. And you do. Have a nice face, that is.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterR

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