new haircut

October 25, 2011 |  Category:   me rambling

Nah, it’s not really that short. It’s just pulled back, but sometimes I wonder if I should cut it short like this and then I remember how much maintenance it took all the times I had short hair, and I’ve had short hair probably half my life. I usually end up only getting a haircut twice a year. Making haircut appointments are about as painful as making dental appointments in the same way that both get pushed aside when I’m too busy, but I’m going to try and be better about that, particularly since I found a new stylist thanks to Anna (basically I’m just going to do whatever Anna tells me to do).

The haircut actually looks like this:

About 10 years ago when I was still writing my Asian American webzine, we had a whole issue devoted to hair. I wrote an article titled “A Lifetime of Hair Angst” that kind of went viral in the way that things went viral 10 years ago (meaning not like today with blogs, twitter and facebook, so maybe 50 people read it instead of 5000). The article was about my life-long struggles with finding the right haircut for my thick Asian hair, and it also talked at great length the perceived differences in the way men treated me depending on if I had short or long hair (so the piece wasn’t all fluff). I think in all of my years I may have had almost every kind of hairstyle and length you could think of, from a 2 inch pixie cut to hair down to my butt, big 80s perms and a mop of hair inspired by Robert Smith and the Reid Brothers from the Jesus and Mary Chain. I used to chop off my hair every 18 months whenever I’d get too comfortable hiding behind my hair as sort of a lesson in letting it go, but I dunno…since I’ve had kids it’s just been stuck in a rut because pony tail hair is easy hair right?

So what do you do when you’ve reached a certain uh, “mature” age and you’re trying not to have mom hair (’cause god forbid I actually look like a mom, haha!)? Tell me when you find the answer, ok? Especially since my hair has now gone wavy post pregnancy instead of straight and I now have freckles. Aging sure is weird.

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  • Linda October 25, 2011 at 2:01 am

    The new haircut looks great! I, too, suffer from thick wavy Asian hair and often have it in the mom pony tail. I hope there’s an answer!

  • Pati N October 25, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Very nice! Looks pretty. I have had a hate relationship with my hair my whole life…I have thin straight mousy hair. That in itself is a journey, but then add on a twin sister with thick naturally streaked hair! Anyways being a mom, and “mature” too…I just do what I want. I color it and try to keep it looking..current. I only do it every six months too as it’s just something I find painful. Oh and aging is sooo weird πŸ™‚ Great post..Thanks.

  • mau October 25, 2011 at 4:27 am

    I love the way it looks in the first photo so maybe a short bob (shorter at the back) would suit you. It can be more work, of course, but spending 10 minutes taking care of yourself everyday is surely something you deserve (I’m telling myself this at the same time I’m writing it!).

  • Sharon October 25, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Lovely haircut! I totally relate to this. Especially the wavy hair and freckles post pregnancy bit. WHAT is with that?!? The days of short-ish hair for me are over. I need to pull my hair into a ponytail as I run out of the house.

  • karen October 25, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Love the haircut! Looks effortlessly chic πŸ™‚

  • dee October 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I think the new cut looks fabulous. My Chinese daughter, who turns 15 this month, has major hair angst. Your post made me think perhaps there is a magazine I could get her that would have Asian hair and makeup tips. I would not normally promote that, but it is hard to see her poring over Teen Vogue wishing she looked different. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

  • Laura October 25, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Great post and great haircut. I can relate to this too. I have had long hair most of my life and in my early 30’s I cut it short and I liked it for about a week! ha! It just took so much longer to do and I found with shorter hair I had to wear makeup too (which I don’t usually wear on a daily basis). It is just nice to fall back on that ponytail! But now I’m in my late 30’s and i feel I need a more grown up hair do. ugh

  • Sherry October 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Do you still have that article? I’d love to read it. I have that exact problem. Thick, straight Asian hair. It hurts to leave a salon when you know the person that cut your hair had no idea what to do with all of it. I get tired of the pony and cut it but then I feel it’s always the same and never looks right. I think of bangs like yours but don’t like hair falling in my eyes when I look down.

  • Sharon @ Currently Coveting October 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Some days I love my hair and some days I hate it. I considered getting a perm as I figured the technology has changed since the last time I tried waaaay back in Middle School. However, something about Asian hair and perms do not seem like a good combination. One thing that has helped with MY hair angst came from another Asian-American blogger. Sachajuan Hair Powder. Here’s her blog post about it. Seriously, nothing else has worked for me except this.

  • jesse October 25, 2011 at 10:48 am

    new haircut looks cute and relatively low maintenance. i’ve had my hair a variety of lengths too; from super short angela basset to long-long-long to my butt and everything in between. as i’m getting older and becoming a mom, i wonder if i need to pick a more “responsible” or “mature” haircut. sigh, aging is weird and annoying sometimes.

  • sarah October 25, 2011 at 10:58 am

    The first picture is fantastic! Your haircut looks great.
    I hear what you’re saying about short hair maintenance! I always get tempted to chop my hair off back to bob length or shorter and then remember that it’s SO much more work for me to keep it from looking like a poofy mushroom head πŸ™‚ My thick not quite straight and not quite curly hair has always been such an issue for me, but perhaps hair is one of those “grass is always greener…” sort of things. Now if someone could just tell me why turning 30 meant a plethora of albino (I refuse to call them grey) hairs wanted to start sprouting up…. uhg.

  • Jessica October 25, 2011 at 11:03 am

    This has been my conversation with friends and my husband for the past week. My hair is way too long “for my age” (blah). Plus it just kind of hangs there. Going to get it cut tomorrow, shorter, but not too short and the big scare factor is I don’t want to have mom hair, but my goodness, I’m running around 36 weeks pregnant with my 2 kids and the long boob length hair is making me look like I’m trying to look younger (or so I think). Your cut is great. yay you

  • Theresa October 25, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I just posted this morning about straightening my hair. Didn’t really write about it but posted a picture. I have had long, super short, curly, straight. I want funky “cool” “styles” like Anna but I am too old and although I have what most African-Americans refer to as “good hair” it’s just never what I want it to be so I end up pulling it back! Freckles? I’m 41 at 30 I was a clean slaight at 40+ FRECKLES! What’s that about: age spots. Some say it’s “cute” but not me.

  • sami October 25, 2011 at 11:20 am

    i would love to read the article! i have tried just about every hair style too and found it very strange looking for wedding hairstyles because there are not alot of asian celebs whose hairstyles i want to emulate.


  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag October 25, 2011 at 11:50 am

    You look FAB! My best friend from law school is Korean and when we were sharing a hotel room studying for the bar exam, I got to see firsthand the miracle of her hair — she can get out of the shower and not even comb it! It dries mirror smooth and perfectly groomed. I’ve rarely been so amazed in all my life. I’ve made my peace with my own hair — it’s very wavy but with a sort of ‘fluffy’ texture — so different ‘styles’ are useless on me, it always looks the same after it dries. I’ve learned that I MUST have some layers to avoid ‘pyramid head’. Ah hair…..

  • Eunice October 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Jenna, I can relate so much to hair problem. My wavy asian hair NEVER corporate with me. To make it worse, my face shape is round. Short, thick wiry hair just makes it even rounder. To solve this major frizziness, I swear by hair smoothing. Have never looked back since. It makes the hair naturally smooth instead of lifelessly flat, and it lasts a year. I can get away with cutting just once a year. Anyway, your hair length is great! It reminds me of Heidi Klum, which unlike you, I can never pull off :

  • Cecilia Madden October 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    i could go on for days about hair…but i promise i won’t.

    i’ll just say this: what if our moms didn’t think they had “mom” hair, and we are trying very hard to have better looking hair but our children think of it as “mom” hair nonetheless? what will they then do as moms? cut their hair into what they think are super trendy shapes and repeat the whole darn cycle of “mom” hair? ugh. i think it’s unavoidable.

    and don’t get me started on going gray…

  • red October 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    The new cut looks pretty stylish and totally functional–what more can we ask for really. I totally understand the short hair dilemma. I would love to cut my hair a la Claudine, but I would so end up looking like fluff head. After my girls were born, I cut off a good amount of my long hippie blah hair and decided to cover my newly sprouted baby hairs with long cool bangs. Well those nice long bangs grew out too fast and after having messed myself up trying to trim them, I went back for a bang trim and told the lady, short, short Audrey bangs please. Now I do mid-length knotted-up hair and short bangs I have to direct down before they dry. It’s not the coolest,but it works. Have fun with the new do!

  • Karen October 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Hey Dee–
    Here is a Japanese website with hairstyles for your daughter to look at. It’s all in Japanese but is pretty much self-explanatory.

  • Sora October 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    The new cut looks great. Even though I usually go long too, I’ve found that going short in the colder months works great with all of the turtlenecks and scarves we tend to put on. I agree with one of the earlier comments that an angled cut in front would look quite nice on you if you went that route later. I hear you on the change in hair texture after having kids. My straight hair has dried out, gone frizzy in the back and it’s not quite the easy wash and go hair it used to be. Also, putting it in a pony tail makes my head hurt from all the weight. Thanks for sharing your new cut. It gives us hope!

  • Nancy Cavillones October 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    As someone with extremely thick and curly hair, finding a stylist that understands how to cut my hair has been a challenge, to say the least. Finally, for my anniversary two weeks ago, I booked a mobile stylist to come to my house for a cut and color. I don’t know what she did and we didn’t talk about my curly hair specifically but she managed to give me a great haircut to the point where I will actually wear my hair down for a little while before I get self-conscious about it’s percieved puffiness. Just luck this time, I guess!

  • Sebbie October 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Cute hair Jenna! I think ‘mom hair’ as those molded, sculptural haircuts with the ugly explosions in the back (you know, like Kate Gosselin before the extensions?). I wear my fine, wavy hair at shoulder length and it ends up in a chignon most of the time. And if that’s mom hair, okay, fine, but I’ve had it similiarly for 15 years, so whatever. And I’m a mom, so…

    BTW, I love your lipstick color. Brand please?

  • RebeccaNYC October 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    “Aging sure is weird.” Trust me, it gets weirder. πŸ™‚

  • Alisha October 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I just found your blog and have to tell you how much I love it. Thoughtful writing, gorgeous photos and great topics–I’m definitely reading from now on!

    And I totally agree with the every 18 months chop-off. I have thin hair that I keep willing to change, but it is what it is πŸ™‚

  • ana October 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    ok, next time I am in NYC (this sounds like I go there often, but have unfortunatelly only been once so far) I want to go to that hairdresser too!

  • Polly October 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    You absolutely donΒ΄t need “mom hair”, you have the face for LONG hair…
    btw I really like your blog!

    Greetings from Germany


  • Emma October 26, 2011 at 4:34 am


  • Meghann Chapman October 26, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I really think anything that looks carefree is good for us moms. I like your wispy layers {at least that’s what I see in the photo}. They give you a lighter more airy feel. Looks effortless and not too stuffy {which is the opposite of most mom cuts}. Hope this cut works for you πŸ™‚

  • Susan October 26, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Looks great!! Camera question…(I am learning so forgive me if this is stupid)…do you have the “shadow cover” on (not sure the technical term)? I have Nikon but it seems having that extra piece on makes for great shots.

  • Damaris @KitchenCorners October 26, 2011 at 9:27 am

    I think your hair looks great. I would love to read that article. In the last couple of months I decided I wanted to get bangs. It’s been fun but kind of more maintenance then I was hoping for.

    ps. I want an Anna in my life too.

  • Clara October 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    wow such an awesome haircut, jenna! you can totally rock those bangs.

  • Dacia October 26, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    I’m a student studying cosmetology in California right now. And I don’t know if you ever tried this before, but maybe try going to a beauty school for a haircut the next time you are needing a trim. Even though the students are the ones who are cutting your hair, the teachers are standing right behind them. Guiding them step by step to make sure they cut/dye/perm properly. And the prices at beauty schools are extremely cheap! Also, the teachers who help the students are not some people who never made it through the salon world. They are the ones who have made a really successful business and styling/cutting hair all day can really take a toll on the body. Which is why many successful hairdressers decides to teach/share their experiences with students and also to just give their body a break!

    AND, the teachers/students will be extremely honest with you. They will educate you about your hair and how to take care of it.

  • Katie October 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Awesome haircut! I am constantly struggling with my hair as it is super straight and fine. It always seems to be just on the verge of a mom cut (to me) and it freaks me out. I may be nearing 40 but does my hair really need to remind me of that? Ack.

  • Jocy October 27, 2011 at 5:31 am

    The new haircut looks lovely on you. On the issue of Asian hair angst, and more specifically, how people treat you differently based on if it’s short or long: arggh, I’m going through that now. Living in SE Asia and working in the human rights field, I come across many Asian and non-Asian women with short hair – and it made me wonder why. Is it easier to groom? It is the hot and humid weather? Or, is it more, maybe like the need not to look so feminine when you work in this field? I have long wavy thick hair. I wear dresses. I am quite feminine. Seeing that I don’t fit the mold here makes me want to hold onto those qualities even more.

  • Tani October 27, 2011 at 9:38 am

    The new haircut is awesome (:.Looks pretty. I love it.

  • Theresa October 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Ugh,I’m so there with you re: the wavy hair after pregnancy! And the gray hair has gone bull blown now. 99.9% of the time I wear my hair in a topknot, but you just reminded me that I really do need to remedy this situation, like, this weekend! Hope my results are half as good as yours – You look great.
    PS~Received a wonderful tip recently: Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your hands. They show the quickest signs of age.

  • Melanie October 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I love it! I go through phases of growing mine out and chopping it off. I never want “mom hair” either. That’s what inspired my recent color and cut.

    Ever since I was pregnant with Nathaniel my hair has been long and pulled up into a non-stylish messy bun. Plus, the gray streaks on the sides were just taking over. I used to color my hair all of the time, but haven’t cared about it in three years. So I decided to go where the cool kids go (Vain in Belltown) and try a new style and get rid of the gray. I’m happy with the outcome so far, but I may grow it out again. πŸ™‚

  • Melanie October 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    P.S. – I actually love the first photo of you with your hair pulled back. CHOP IT OFF! Do it! It looks awesome. πŸ™‚

  • JD October 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    My long Asian hair went wavy and decidedly frizzy after my second. I have a lovely cowlick my daughter calls my “cute little bald spot”. In summer I wash it at night and let it dry naturally and the wind it up in a loose bun to sleep. Do a few “definition” ringlets with the curling iron in the morning and accept it. My daughters are half Irish and they have perfectly thick brown wavy hair with gold highlights and I am so happy for them.

  • Dana Youlin October 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    jenna, you are lovely!

  • Gina November 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Jenna,

    I think your article “A Lifetime of Hair Angst” would still resonate today with many many women. Could you send us a link to the article?

  • Jenna November 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    @gina – and others who have asked for the link. Thanks for your interest in the article, but I think some written pieces are best left buried, 10 years ago, rather than resurrected again….

  • Sunny November 18, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I hate to be the dissenter, but I LOVE my slightly wavy Asian hair. I think the key to loving your hair is getting a great haircut (Ray from Mudhoney in SoHo)and using great shampoo/conditioner (most recently HerCut from Sephora). I think about all the products women with thin and limp hair buy to make their hair look full, and I’m so happy that I have lots of lively hair to work with.