India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Beauty
December 10, 2019

Making The Cut

Photographed by Sushant Kadam. Styling by Akanksha Pandey. Photograher’s Assistant: Amit Bane. Hair by Sonam Singh. Make-up by Shreya Srivastava. Both at Feat. Artists

Photographer and designer Mallika Chandra digs into the public obsession with women’s hair after she put her own on the chopping block and faced an invasion of unsolicited opinions…

I don’t know what it is about hair. We’re constantly obsessing over it — policing it, hating it, taming it, lusting after it and wrestling with it. So much so, that we worry about having it in the wrong place, having too much or not enough, or having enough of it in the ‘right’ place but not in the ‘right’ way – Silky, Smooth & Straight with a capital ’S’.

We’re all victims of this mania, often self-imposed. I have never done my eyebrows and can’t remember the last time I waxed my arms. But it took almost 10 years of overthinking to finally get the pixie cut I have always wanted, because I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. This is despite being lucky enough to have grown up in a family that accepts me in my entirety without trying to control my body hair or what I wear. None of us are above insecurities.

The thing about hair, though, is that it is social. Everybody has an opinion. I had a hair stylist refuse to give me a pixie cut fearing that I would regret it or that it was a reactive decision. So, I went back the next day to another stylist. As if that wasn’t irritating enough, I have been surprised to experience first-hand just how entitled strangers feel to comment on my appearance and assumed mental state. I find it funny when they ask me if I feel light-headed. But now I get that they are referring quite literally to the weight of all the pressure and stereotypes that hair is loaded with. What happened? Am I depressed? I must be going through something. Do I regret it already? How could my parents allow their grown-up, independent, 26-year-old daughter to cut her hair like this? Maybe it’s my art school education. I mean, sure, I’m a creative person so I am prone to expressing myself. I look good, but a bit too much like those socialist activist types na?

In hindsight, it all seems ridiculous, of course, because I love my new haircut. It is so easy to maintain, and those who get me are thrilled about it. In fact, I am light-headed from all the generous Audrey Hepburn/Winona Ryder/‘desi Twiggy’/Natalie Portman comparisons that come my way. Bless those delusional souls!

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