“I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair”

I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair

Have you ever gotten a dramatic haircut? Today, we’re introducing our “Tried” series. The Cup of Jo staff and friends will be dipping their toes in uncharted waters, testing out curious beauty procedures, making lifestyle changes, switching up work habits and more. Photographer Ana Gambuto, who has had long blonde waves since the age of five, is kicking things off…

I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair

30 years earlier: “I’ve had the same long hairstyle since I was five years old. I’m one of those weird people who has looked exactly the same my whole life — just a little older. I always thought I wouldn’t feel feminine without my long hair. It was a security blanket, and I was afraid to lose it.”

I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair

Three months earlier: “Once I became a photographer, I ended up pulling my hair into tight bun. It’s half-laziness and half-convenience. Recently, though, I kept going on a photoshoots and seeing all these women with great short cuts. Then someone told me there was a thing called a ‘lob’ — or long bob. I had no idea, so I googled it A LOT. Then I made a hair appointment only two days in advance so I couldn’t chicken out.”

The night before the cut: “I decided not to tell my husband what I was doing, and set up a dinner reservation that night so I could surprise him. I am actually obsessed with making things into surprises, to the point where it might be annoying. You know that SNL skit with the woman who loves surprises, that is totally how I am, 100%. Needless to say, I was excited.”

I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair

The cut: “I felt really nervous and emotional all day. I couldn’t eat because of butterflies. The salon was behind schedule, so my stylist was a bit rushed. She does this every day, but I was freaking out, so I said: ‘I’ve never done anything like this before. Can we just take a breath? I need a moment.’ After that, I felt much better as she chopped 13 inches right off!”

Immediately after: “After the cut, the stylist gave me the most amazing blowout ever. I left feeling like a million bucks. I was walking on sunshine, waving to strangers, kinda skipping. I kept taking selfie after selfie. There was some corporate event happening in the same building with random dudes in bad rumpled suits milling about everywhere, and I was just like whatever, shameless.”

I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair

I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair

That night: “When my husband walked into dinner, he was late and flustered, and didn’t immediately notice. I was like, ‘Uhhh, what? Did that just happen?’ But once he took off his coat and sat down, he got it: ‘I LOVE IT! You look so great!’ Smart, smart guy. I think he does really like it, though; now when I walk by, he’s like, ‘Babe, you look so cute! So refined.’

A week later: “A couple days afterward, I had to blow dry it myself for the first time. I used a large round brush and ended up looking like a straight-up Texas newscaster. The next day, I air-dried it with this spray instead. It gave me the coolest non-sticky, thick-feeling waves with no frizz. This will legit be my new lazy day routine. Short hair feels like a new chapter. I like the idea of being a fresh version of myself; I’ve always loved New Year’s — the flipping of one year to the next — as a reward for hard work. I feel professional and powerful, like a boss.”

I Chopped 13 Inches Off My Hair

Do you feel attached to your hair? What has been your most dramatic cut?

P.S. A one-minute trick for pretty eyes and lovely hair tutorials.

  1. Amelia says...

    Wow!! Looks so great! I recently had the biggest cut of my life; 16 inches!!! I’m only 14 and have had long hair my entire life but decided I needed a change. I wanted to help people as well, so instead of only cutting off my hair, I donated it to a cancer charity as well to help makes wigs for people. I couldn’t let all that lovely hair go to waste!

  2. Jennifer says...

    Your hair looks wonderful! It’s remarkable that in this era we still put so much emphasis on hair length. In Europe many women have short hair and it looks so feminine and chic. I recently cut my long hair into a pixie, much to the delight of my hairdresser! Everyone in the salon gathered around as if it were a grand event. I absolutely love it, as does my boyfriend, but I have noticed the very idea of short hair strikes fear in many women. I’ve gotten more negative responses from younger women than any else which surprised me. It’s too bad it still has such a stigma because I see so many women with their hair in the perpetual ponytail. Odds are if you like your hair “up” you’ll like it short. For anyone on the fence …cut it! You’ll be amazed how liberating it can be.

  3. Mimi says...

    Just W O W !!!

  4. Michelle says...

    The political side stance is very interesting and very much relateable. I did not go for the chop at the time, but I can say it has been on my mind for well over a year now. I have an appointment scheduled for this week, and I am looking forward to a change.

  5. Gigi says...

    Since my mom made me get a bob in 3rd grade to prevent me from catching lice at school, I have otherwise always had long thick red hair. That day in third grade, I cried and I still look at that school picture and grimace.

    Twenty years later, my hair was down to my waist and I decided to donate it to Locks of Love in honor of my childhood friend who had passed. The day I had scheduled for the donation I had the flu but I ventured out solely for this appointment. I had 14 inches and two ponytails of hair donated that day. A few days later when I attempted to blowdry my own hair, I cried. I continued to cry at the loss of my hair for several months. It took 3 years for my hair to grow 1/2 way down my back. I didn’t feel like myself, and to this day, 6 years later, my hair has never been able to grow down to my waist again.

    I hate that I put so much of my identity in my hair, but it is, and has always been my favorite physical attribute and I don’t plan to make such a change again.

  6. Hi, this is a wonderful story, I love experimenting with hair, but it’s rare – once every two to three years.

  7. Leslie says...

    I’ve had long, curled hair for 10 YEARS. Like, pagenty long wavy hair. After I had my son, I resisted the urge to cut it off due to exhaustion, baby pulling, no time to do it, etc. Fast forward a year to the election. I realized that my long hair felt like I was trying to mask who I really am. A liberal, mormon, artist, activist, minimalist, mother and wife. I hate the Bachelor, loathe all things lululemon, and mommy blogs. Why was I trying to look like “that girl” if I was adamantly opposed to the shallowness the culture around it perpetuates? I asked my hairdresser for the easiest short wash and wear haircut and have loved every day of it.

  8. I decided 2 years ago to let my natural grey hair shine – no more coloring. My hair has always been long so part of the process was to cut my long hair (full of dye) off to a very short bob and patiently let the grey come in. Long process but very happy with my natural hair.

  9. Sachan says...

    YOU LOOK LIKE AMY FROM VEEP! (Who is amazingly cute!)

  10. Abbie says...

    I’m totally attached to my hair. I am just like Ana-I have pretty much had the same style for all of my life. Long, straight blonde hair. I have cut it shorter every so often, though. I get sick of my long hair-I’m not great at styling it and I worry that it overpowers me because I’m so short (4’11”) & makes me appear even shorter/frumpier? Then as soon as I cut it (never shorter than my shoulders) I can’t wait to grow it out again. Haha.

    I’m not a big risk-taker. Sometimes I think that means I’m boring and sometimes I think it means I’m stable. ?

    I love Ana’s new hair!

  11. I love Ana!! And, she looks gorgeous with her new lob! Thank you for sharing the story and look forward to more!

  12. Love it! I do this every few years (grow it out, chop it off)–I love the big change! The thing that always strikes me is the weight of my hair; it feels so light after the cut. :)

  13. I had a pixie cut years ago. Loved it. Then I grew it and hadn’t cut since. Only trims. A couple months ago I wanted a change so I asked for a shoulder-length cut and she cut it almost to my chin and I cried. Biggest mistake of my life. Now taking hair vitamins and starting all over. Sigh.

  14. She could be your cousin, Joanna!

  15. Glenda says...

    Love it!!! I chop 10 inches every other year and donate it to locks of love for children hair loss.

    • Berny says...

      Me too!!!! I cut my hair this week and donated to Locks of love. I love the coincidence of reading this blog on the same week I cut my hair :)

  16. Nicole FR says...

    I always wanted a pixie but was afraid to get one for the longest time. One 104F summer day, a couple weeks after I called the cops on an abusive ex, I said screw it and did it! That same day, they arrested him and he was charged and served the time he owed. I kept it for about two years after that and it was a great daily reminder of how powerful I am.

  17. Julie says...

    My hair is past my shoulders and I have an appointment to cut it today. I’ve had pixies before (and liked them) and messy bobs, but I’m really starting to gray and craving change. My biggest problem is that I don’t have the time or take to time to style my hair. And, I’m headed to Paris next month so I want an easy haircut that still has shape/adds style.

    Your post feels serendipitous…

  18. KChou says...

    I usually don’t care if the stylist cuts 1 inch or 6 inches since my hair grows so fast. One hot summer day, I decided to cut it short (right above my shoulders) since I was tired of the weight of my long hair. When I got home, my husband said, “oh your hair looks nice”. 3 months later, I planned on going back to the salon to get a trim and my husband said, “Why don’t you grow it out?” He didn’t care for my short hair but didn’t want to say it the first time around haha.

  19. After growing my hair out from a buzzcut to shoulder length – which took about 5 years – I was getting utterly bored with it. So a few weeks ago, I got an undercut:

    I was so sure that this was what I wanted, but it was still terrifying to watch those long locks of hair falling around me at the hairdresser’s. I had to remind myself to take deep breaths — but not too deep because I had to sit perfectly still! It took me a few days to convince myself I hadn’t just made a huge mistake. But now I feel great about it. It’s a fresh look that I can show off when I want to or hide by letting my hair down.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that looks awesome, eleonore!

  20. Lilly says...

    I did exactly this, this past summer! Wish I’d thought of surprising my partner at dinner that’s amazing. I just sent him ten million selfies. Now I’m considering dye. Maybe?

  21. Ana is so cute! My hair is curly and, for years I had it long and straight… Until I found the PERFECT hairstylist and the best products for my curls. Now my hair is short and I have beautiful natural curls. I couldn’t love it more!! XX, Fernanda

    • Wait, Fernanda!! More details are required!!

      I love this story so much, but I feel as though I’m not allowed to join. I, too, have long curly hair. I’ve always kept it long to control it, and let it go wild but still have the security of length.

      Can you share what products you use? Anyone have great short-curls success stories?

      xox, Chelsea

  22. june2 says...

    That smooth lob look is so elegant! I would wear that every day but would need keratin straightening to pull it off. Worth it though!

  23. Em says...

    Ha! Such an apt article. I practically ruined my hair dying it (with an overly dye happy hairdresser), moved home and to a new hairdresser who asked ‘do you trust me?’. Nervously (I’d only met her that day but she came recommended by friends), I said yes. Snip. My bra-strap length hair was a chin length bob! A year on I love it and am completely converted but it took some getting used to!

  24. I cut my hair short before my 23rd birthday when I was going through deep depression. The cut helped me feel different, but I was terrible at keeping up the blowout so my blunt bangs ended up always being too wavy to look right. Now I’m too scared to cut it again!

    • Fascinating!!!

    • Connie says...

      This explains so much…

  25. Em says...

    The summer before grade 12 I told my parents that I wanted to dye part of my hair something different and colourful. My dad was like “I don’t know if I like this idea” but my mom said “That sounds so fun! I’ll do it with you!” So my mom and I went to the mall and picked out semi-permanent hair dyes. She got bright red and I got this really pretty purple. We each dyed a chunk of each others hair in the bathroom sink! I kept it up until I started university the next year. I liked it because it was so unique to me. And it wasn’t like in-your-face attention grabbing (not my style) but it was still cool and it was fun to see how long it took different people to notice and/or comment on it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how cute that you and your mom did it together!