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From the Archives: Your Hair is your Outfit, Everyday




Photo Credit: Annabelle Agnew

I am curating essays that I have written over the last few years.

Here is one that dates back from October 1st 2015

Your Hair is your Outfit, Everyday

When we're on a creative path, our initial instinct, and the advice that we get is to start with a plan, a sketch, a thumbnail.

Once we've crafted our idea, then we can pounce and make the real thing. Whatever that thing is.

Plan then Execute.

The morning I cut off my hair,  I got dressed and looked in the mirror. I saw a slumpy, shaggy, young homeless grandmother of sorts, a person with no neck or shoulders.

I was still stuck, despite my Capsule Wardrobe, between who I was and who I wanted to be.

In the week following the removal of 9'' off my hair, I threw out 6 garbage bags of things, had a genuinely pleasant breakfast with my mother and made my first piece of furniture.  I also faced my toughest client situation and started cooking again in our kitchen.

As soon as I felt the shear of the scissor against the nape of my neck, I felt a return home.

Slow down Emeline it's just a haircut. Does it really deserve  991 words? Yes. It does.

I've radically gone from bleached pixie cut, to firestarter orange, back to choppy bob in the span of 2 years.

Every paycheck bringing the possibility of a new identity. I spent 1996-2003 with a new look every six months. Grunge Emeline, Preppy Emeline, Seductive Emeline, Rebellious Emeline. Never regretting anything, ok well maybe just the strawberry blonde eyebrows...

Obviously motherhood brought on it's own set of new hair rules. Hair loss, hair pulling, hair cleanliness...Do you know what you really need if you're pushing out 3 kids in 4 years?

A tuque.

That you keep on until they get to kindergarten.

The End.

But shedding the long mermaid hair? With it's ombre ends that I loved so much? The hair I had wanted my whole life, that could curl on a dime and pretend it's attending Coachella?

 If you lost 30 pounds, you'd look exactly like Drew Barrymore. Something a coked out stranger once told me...

As Wendy worked her way up my shoulders, and neck, I felt a past version of myself lifting away.  By the time she was done and I marched back to the car, I felt like the embodiment of my mother, circa 1974. A wiser, more authentic version of myself.


Somehow, this hair had revealed a truer self. One that no longer needed flower crowns. It needed nothing more than to be what it was.


I had had a clear plan as to what I wanted for my new do.

I had a flinch of fear, but I ignored it, as I've done all too often.

So there had been a plan, we ripped it up and started fresh.

Sometimes, the plan is wrong. And you have to wade through the murky waters of the unknown to come out at the other end.

Happy Ending.

Haircut/Plan analogy completed.

Oh but no, there's more. We're now at 1145 words.

I went to University and fell in love with Horkheimer and Adorno, read Sartres preached that the Medium Was The Message and melted for Cubism. I was fueled by ideas and ideals, but had no real outlet. The weight of my student responsibilities of essay writing and exam attending grew too heavy, until the day when I couldn't get out of bed and I shook with anxiety until the sun went down.

I ended up working in hotels, not treating myself very kindly but living it up. Drinking until 6am and having anonymous escapades with hotel guests, a life you can live for only a few months before you are respectfully let-go. And so I was. But my urge to make things grew, something I knew I had to find my way back to.

My parents were, and still are, avid makers of their own sorts. Nothing that led to a career, but a lifetime of hobbies and opportunities. A total gift they gave both my sister and I, she who can knit like a bad ass.

In the basement bathroom of a shopping mall karaoke bar, I was introduced to the idea of Interior Design as a legitimate thing.  Next thing I knew, I was making garbage lamps and triangle sculptures. I graduated with honors.

And then out of nowhere, I got pregnant and I finally made something real, that wasn't going to get a grade. A baby. And a marriage. If I'm honest I can say that I spent  a gooooooooooood 5 years doubting that this whole thing was even happening. Maybe because the love of a good man was something I thought I didn't deserve, or maybe because I was still stuck dreaming about my "real" life, where I made beautiful things that made people happy. Things that weren't babies and grilled cheese sandwiches.

And so I made the shop. Partly to help other people, partly to establish and make public my identity as a maker.

And since, I've lived on the periphery of my maker role. Teaching how to make things or designing things to be made by others.

I'm getting closer, but I'm not there yet.

And now I'm surrounded by woods and rivers and fields. I have land of my own, tools that I can use and space to make a mess in. I even have my own paints. It's everything I've dreamed of, except it looks nothing like my dream.

I had a plan, but it got wet and the ink  bled off the page. But I know it's right, because it feels like home and sometimes it makes me cry.

I've been thinking about what to make since I can remember thinking. Watching my mother sew, handling my grandmother's lace, helping my father build furniture all while drawing and writing in my sketchbooks. Tinkering here and there, making this and that, but never committing. Amassing a pile of unfinished objects, fear and shame crowding me and holding my hands back.

But I'm coming home, slowly.

I don't know exactly what I'll be making, but it'll be something.

And this haircut? It may just be a haircut on the outside, but it's my outfit for the next chapter of my story.

self portrait

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