The Impact of a Hair Makeover

A child who is combing his mom's ponytail
Photo: Robert Kneschke/Canva
Q: I've been dreaming for years about getting my hair cut really short in a pixie cut. I hesitated for a long time, but I think I'm finally ready. My husband is fully supportive, and he's okay with me cutting my long hair. Currently, my hair reaches far below my shoulders.
However, I have one big concern, or let's call it an unknown factor. I have a five-year-old son. How will he react to my sudden makeover? It worries me. His mother will suddenly look completely different. How do children typically react to a significant makeover of their mother?

A: Making decisions about your hair, especially a drastic change from long to very short, involves a lot of emotions and considerations. While it's exciting to change your look, the question of how your five-year-old son will react to this sudden and drastic makeover may be a cause for concern. His perception of who his mother is and how she looks is deeply rooted in the image he's used to, and changing that image can be confusing for him.
It's great to hear that your husband is fully on board with the makeover, which will undoubtedly make your transformation from long to short hair more enjoyable. However, predicting the psychological impact of a sudden and drastic makeover on a child is challenging, as their understanding of identity is still developing. I can't anticipate how your son will react, but I can offer you some tips and ideas.
A significant change in appearance can cause confusion or even fear in a child. Children often form strong bonds with the visual representations of their loved ones, especially their parents. Any sudden alteration of this familiarity can trigger a range of emotions and reactions, and it's important to handle this understandingly. However, keep in mind that children can have a surprisingly high adaptability, and their reactions can vary widely.
Involving your son in the cutting process could be a good strategy. Taking him with you to the hair salon not only makes the experience more inclusive but also demystifies your transformation from long to short hair. Allowing him to be a part of it, perhaps by giving him a small role, like cutting a portion of your hair, turns the event into a positive memory that he shared with you. Letting him witness the cutting process and actively involving him can make the whole experience enjoyable and less intimidating for him.
Mother and child, having fun playing with her hair
Photo: Robert Kneschke/Canva
Communication is essential to prepare him for the change in your appearance. Make him feel involved in the decision-making process and show him photos of the pixie cut you have in mind. Explain in a way suitable for his age why you're cutting your long hair. Maybe you can have some fun together using a hair simulator app to visualize the pixie cut on a photo of yourself. This way, he already has an idea of how his mom will look soon. An open dialogue about your upcoming look can prevent many concerns.
Approach the haircut in a light-hearted manner, laugh, and create a cheerful atmosphere. Perhaps having a little celebration afterward with the three of you to celebrate your new hairstyle is a good idea. Also, create an environment where your son feels comfortable expressing his thoughts and emotions about the change. Assure him that you are still the same loving mother, regardless of your hairstyle.
Prepare for various possible scenarios. Children can react in very diverse ways to significant changes, and it's important to always be patient and understanding. Remember that children often mirror the emotions of their parents, so your and your husband's positive attitude and enthusiasm about your new look can strongly influence your son's perception. With the right mix of communication, involvement, and positivity, the long-to-short-hair makeover can become a shared adventure rather than something to worry about.
See also:
Haircuts and neurotransmitters
What does a woman's hair length say about her personality traits?