In Season Four, Carrie chops off her hair when she is ready to start a new chapter in her life—lost love, new job, fresh start—and I’ve just chopped off mine, in something of the same spirit. True, unlike Carrie, my hair-cutting was not preceded by tragedy and heartbreak. (I’m going to put that one in the plus column.) And true, unlike Carrie, mine will not be followed by a glamorous, lucrative new job as a writer for Vogue. (I’m going to put that one in the minus column.)
But I think our friend Ms. Bradshaw is onto something, with this whole “marking of important life milestones by cathartic shedding of hair/transformation of personal appearance” thing. Carrie had been with the gent she breaks up with in Season Four for years. She loved him deeply. Their lives were profoundly intertwined. And when that relationship came to an end, she wanted to mark it in some way--to make the shifts in her heart and the upheavals in her life visible, on her body. After all, she was a different person, after being through what she had been through, and she wanted to make those differences overt--tangible--physical.
I have been a grad student for seven years, people… pretty much my entire adult life. I started grad school as a lass of twenty-two, and am now within inches of my twenty-ninth birthday. For me, grad school has been a home, a haven, a hell—a source of both tears and of laughter (sometimes happy tears and quasi-hysterical/embittered laughter—such is the “Alice falling down the rabbit hole,” everything-is-upside-down-and-backwards-but-apparently-it-would-be-impolite-of-me-to-mention-this nature of the grad school experience)—the reasons for long bookish days and late writing nights. And this very day, my dissertation will be signed, sealed, and delivered—and I will be a grad student no more. Huh. Whaddya know.
And I am not the same person I was, B.G. S. (Before Grad School)—and I wanted to mark that in some way. To make this tremendous shift in my life and the pending upheavals in my world visible, on my person. (And to donate my discarded locks in the process, of course.)
Because as Carrie teaches us, cutting off your hair is a leap of faith. A public assertion that you are not afraid of change, but that you embrace it. That you are not afraid of making yourself vulnerable (after all, when The Hair is Cut, The Neck is Exposed and The Face has Nowhere to Hide), but that you recognize that being vulnerable is an essential part of being brave. That you are not afraid to face your future without the man who was once the center of your world, or the role which was once the core of your identity.
That sometimes we have to let go of a much-loved past in order to embrace an exhilaratingly, terrifyingly unknown future.
So… onwards for me, as I throw myself into My Life After Grad School… and onward for the women of SATC as they throw themselves into their next madcap adventures.
(Oh and P.S.—the charming blog Cupcakes Taste Nice had a lovely story a couple of years ago about the evolution of Carrie’s hair if you want to see it all unfold—and you can still even vote on which look you like best. Come onnnn, short bob, I am very Pro-Short Bob!)