Hair might be the one accessory you wear every day, but over the years I’ve treated mine more like a battered pair of Converse than a beloved designer bag. I’ve repeatedly home-bleached, chopped my own fringe and gone for several years — during my ‘mermaid hair’ phase — without visiting a hairdresser.
But it wasn’t until I hit my mid-30s last year that I finally ticked off an item I’ve had on my hair bucket list since my early 20s. I went to an East London salon and got an undercut, complete with ultra-short bob and severe fringe.
It was back in the early 2000s that I first considered shaving my hair off. Ultimately, the fact I’d spent three years mainlining beer at university, and thus had a non-existent jawline, convinced me otherwise. I wanted to emulate Sinead O’Connor, but deep down I knew I’d look more like a chubby Jason Statham.
Since my love for beer hasn’t waned, I suspect that what has changed, is me. In 2019, at 35, I finally had the courage to get the underside of my locks shaved off completely.
And I’m not alone. Rubi Fernades, co-founder of A-H Salon in Sydney’s Newtown, says that she’s seeing more women in their 30s opt for dramatic looks.
“It’s 2020, women feel like they can really express themselves without judgement. It’s a time that anything goes and age is no limit to what you can do and how you have to look,” Fernandes says.
“There are so many super successful women in this world in their 30s,” agrees Jamilla Paul, Artistic Director of Sisters Beauty Lounge UAE. “ I feel (this) is a huge transitional year and women in general are very empowered and most definitely more confident to wear a stronger haircut or style.”
In the previous decade, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Dormer and Rosario Dawson have all flown the flag for sporting unique shaved styles and bold colours during their 30s. Many women over 30 are also defying tradition. Evangeline Lilly, 40, recently shaved her head and Instagram was extremely here for it.
Getting an undercut has caused me to rethink the relationship I’ve created between my hair and feeling feminine. I have a small bust and a virtually non-existent waist-to-hip ratio. My undercut allowed me to realise ways I have counterbalanced my perceived lack of physical femininity with hair choices over the years.
Now, when I tie my remaining hair into a topknot and have my bleached undercut on display I feel strong, confident and empowered. It feels like a giant 30-something middle finger to the guy who once pointed me out in the street and shouted; ‘Look at her! She’s flat-chested as f**k!” It’s made me realise I can create my own definition of what is feminine.
But getting a dramatic haircut in your 30s can be, and mean, whatever you want it to.
“Anything goes really, shaved sides to pixie cuts or fully shaving heads. Lots of women are now trying pastel shades, or even brighter colours,” Fernandes says.
And if you need to keep it professional for work, Paul suggests adding some texture to a classic look, such as a bob or lob, and going for an undercut beneath.
“Then at the weekends you can sweep the hair to the side, and expose your weekend personality.”
If you’re in your 30s and wondering whether to bite the bullet, Fernandes has some words of wisdom. “Just do it! Don’t think about it too much,” she says.
And that’s the crux of it really. If you want to get a bold cut, don’t waste years overthinking it. You’ll probably grow more hair, but you definitely won’t get more time.