I’ve had long hair — well past my shoulders — for virtually my entire adult life. I’ve always thought my hair is one of my best features, so why not have as much of it as possible? I’m also just not a big fan of haircuts, for some reason. I put it off for as long as I can and when I do finally get a haircut, it’s rarely more than a trim.

Heather with long hair
This photo, shot just before lockdown started, shows what my hair looked like up until two days ago: Long, and not much else. (Photo: Nina Neubauer)

This week, as the lockdown eased, I suddenly decided it was time for a change. It had been nearly two years (yes, you read that right) since I’d had a haircut, and I was ready for more than a trim. I decided to go big or go home.

I sent a message to Robbie, a hair stylist I’d never met before. My friend Michelle recommended him.

Heather to Robbie: “My hair is super long and I think I want to chop off a significant portion of it 😳”

Robbie to Heather: “How would tomorrow at 2 suit you?”

I took a deep breath and typed yes.

The next day, Robbie pulled up in front of my gate promptly at 2. (He does pandemic house calls.) He sat me on a stool in the middle of my lounge, and got right to work.

I wanted to donate my hair to CANSA, one of South Africa’s best-known cancer charities. So Robbie had to chop off at least 25 centimeters (about 10 inches) to make a proper donation. I handed Robbie a ruler and an elastic band. Twenty seconds later, he was holding my ratty ponytail in his hand.

Robbie holding my hair
Robbie and my hair. He had to cut off a few extra centimeters because the ends were so badly damaged. The ponytail was still lighter than my natural color, left over from a few years ago when I dyed it red.

The big chop wasn’t as scary as I expected. I felt good about it. Robbie set to work on layering, snipping and chatting away.

He was nearly finished when he exclaimed, “Wait, we forgot the bangs!”

Before we started I had mentioned — kind of vaguely — to Robbie that I was considering getting bangs. (That’s a fringe, for the South Africans among you. Don’t ask me why Americans call it bangs.) I really wasn’t sure though. Bangs are a big change and they take a long time to grow out. I hadn’t had bangs for at least 25 years. I was secretly hoping Robbie would forget.

But then I reminded myself: Go big or go home. It’s a global pandemic, baby. I closed my eyes and gave Robbie the green light.

OMG I’m totally getting bangs. (Photo: Michelle Schenck)
Heather with bangs
Bangs, baby! (Photo: Michelle Schenck)
Heather seeing her new hair
The big reveal. (Photo: Michelle Schenck)

Looking at myself in the mirror for the first time was disorienting — it felt like looking at a different person. But I was happy. Two days later, I still am. I definitely needed this.

Heather's new haircut selfie
I think I’m going to start wearing glasses and lipstick more often — they seem to suit the haircut.
Heather with her camera
Camera selfie, two days post-cut. I’m loving it more and more.

The next day, I popped my hair into a ziploc bag and drove it over to the CANSA offices in Bedforview. I was in and out of the office in two minutes. Donating was a super easy process and I’m happy my ratty ponytail might help a cancer survivor who needs it. If you’d like to donate your hair, all the information you need is on the CANSA website.

If you’d like to schedule a haircut or color with Robbie — which I highly recommend as he is delightful — contact him at 078-018-2915. Please tell him I sent you. If you google him, search for “Robert Isworthy”.

Pandemic makeovers are the new black. Hop on board.

Heather's new haircut
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