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[Photos Courtesy of Brahmjot Kaur]

I cut my hair and the Sikh community hasn’t looked at me the same since.

As a Sikh girl living in New York, it sounds like no one would care if I chopped off all my hair. I was wrong. Some individuals in the Sikh community judged my decision and others were just fascinated with my rebellion. It was far easier to adjust with my non-desi friends.

The first time I cut my hair was at the age of 16 and I hid it from my parents. While it wasn’t a pixie, it was a lot shorter than my previous hair length and I’d keep it in a bun around them whenever possible.

There is something so liberating about cutting your hair. It’s like you’re cleansing yourself of the sadness that engulfed you. The haircut is like a declaration to yourself that you are beautiful and that sometimes it’s important to do what makes you happy.

It was a cycle. Every time something major and traumatic would happen, I was ready to head to Sally’s Beauty Supply and pick up a new bottle of hair dye. Sometimes my hair was red, sometimes it was blue. When I didn’t know how to cope, I would head over and buy a new color to try out.

Freshman year of college was rough. My heart was broken and I was abandoned by the people closest to me at the time. My purple hair reminded me of that time and I couldn’t stand it. So I dyed it red, hoping it would help, but it didn’t. A few days later, I went to CVS and picked up a box of black hair dye. After dying my hair black, I went to a local salon and chopped off most of my hair. I was now rocking a killer pixie cut. It was the shortest it had ever been and I was in love with it.

Needless to say, my mom and dad weren’t the happiest about this decision. I’m not saying my method of dying my hair and cutting it is the healthiest coping mechanism. However, I am glad I was able to do it.

I only feel guilty when I see how other Punjabi parents look at me and my parents. It’s like they think my parents can’t tame me, but I don’t think I’m something that needs to be tamed. In Sikhism, cutting your hair is not allowed. The idea is that you shouldn’t change God’s image of you. However, my experience has taught me that forcing a religion onto your child will only push them away.

It’s important for kids to explore themselves and who they want to be. Following a religion is a personal choice that everyone should be able to decide. I was lucky enough that my parents finally understood that I needed this. They stepped back and let me do my own experimenting. My parents are the reason I was able to finally step out of the madness my mind was focused on.

Cutting my hair was liberating. I don’t care about the whispers and gossip that desi aunties like to go on about. I found myself and the beauty I needed to feel in order to start the process of self-love. Rid yourselves of the hate and sadness you might feel and do what makes you love yourself. I cut my hair, and I’m glad I did.


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