I AM NOT MY HAIR

Elle (Canada) - - Beauty - ALIYAH SHAMSHER

My iden­tity cri­sis started in a Top­shop change room. I was try­ing on a col­lec­tion of boxy tu­nics, wide-legged cropped trousers and belted waist­coats and some­thing felt off. My straight, long and cen­tre-parted dark hair—the style I’d worn my whole life—was all wrong: It felt non­de­script and bor­ing against the new sil­hou­ettes. For the first time in 30 years, I sud­denly wanted my hair to say some­thing.

I didn’t have to look far for in­spi­ra­tion—my desk­top is clut­tered with im­ages of stylish women with great hair. And since I’d just landed a job at ELLE Canada, I felt I de­served my very own “hair mo­ment.” (A fash­ion magazine will do this to you.) I found a photo of Aus­tralian blog­ger Car­men Hamil­ton sport­ing an om­bré chop and de­manded the same from my stylist. Af­ter­wards, I walked out feel­ing vic­to­ri­ous. My hair was dis­tinct, loud and full of per­son­al­ity. But I soon re­al­ized that although my hair was cer­tainly say­ing some­thing, it was speak­ing the lan­guage of the Aussie I had stolen it from.

It didn’t mat­ter that ev­ery­one else was into my hair—friends, co-work­ers and even strangers gave me com­pli­ments­—to me, it felt for­eign. My un­der­stated style had al­ways let me fly un­der the radar, and the amount of at­ten­tion I was get­ting (I have new re­spect for my blond friends) was jar­ring. Plus, there was an un­godly amount of up­keep to hav­ing that “per­fectly tou­sled” look day in, day out.

After three months of try­ing, I went back to my stylist and tweaked the colour and cut; I’m grow­ing it out now. Do I have re­grets? Not at all. Some­times it takes a mo­ment of look­ing—and feel­ing—like a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son to re­al­ize you al­ready know ex­actly who you are. And for me, that’s a clas­sic-lov­ing min­i­mal­ist whose style doesn’t have to shout to be heard. n

Style blog­ger Car­men

Hamil­ton (near right) in­spired fea­tures ed­i­tor Aliyah Shamsher’s hair­cut.

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