I’ve been doing this since I was 16

On the stage is a table with a handheld mirror and a pair of small, orange handled scissors. Behind the table is a tall, full-length mirror. Under the table is a small trash can.

Kate enters the stage and walks to the table. She stands between the table and the full-length mirror. She picks up the handheld mirror.

Kate: At first I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing.

Kate pulls variously at her curls, checking their length in the handheld mirror. When she finds a clump of hair that isn’t right, she picks up the scissors, and snips off a bit of hair. She throws the bit of hair into the trash can. She holds up the mirror and looks at the back of her head in the full-length mirror.

Kate: I didn’t announce: “I’ve had it with shitty butcher jobs at the salon. I’ll be the only one touching my hair from now on” or anything like that. I would secretly trim bits here and there when I was sure no one else would see me. I would put little piles of tissue over the hairs in the bedroom trash can to hide them.

Kate continues examining, snipping, and discarding her hair.

Kate: I knew it was weird. So I didn’t broadcast my new pastime. I mean who cuts their own hair? Nuns? Hermits? Characters who are signaling they are going through major life changes? Certainly not middle class white girls.

Kate continues examining, snipping, and discarding her hair.

Kate: But eventually, word got out. I mean, it probably wasn’t difficult for my family to notice my hair changing length. Over time, I got decent at it. Good enough my mom and my sisters noticed and wanted me to touch up their hair so they didn’t have to go to the salon. I kept cutting my own hair and my friends’ hair while I was in college, and cut quite a few strangers’ hair when I lived in France.

Kate continues examining, snipping, and discarding her hair.

Kate: It’s an actual marketable skill that I’ve been practicing for almost 25 years, but I’ve never gotten paid once for doing it.

Kate stops cutting her hair and looks at it critically in the handheld and full-length mirrors.

Kate: It’s been a long time since I’ve cut someone else’s hair that wasn’t simply buzzing down my partner’s head to slightly shorter stubble with a pair of electric clippers.

I’ve kept cutting my own. But I’ve noticed a change over the last few years when cutting my hair. It’s less about maintaining a certain look or trying out something new and dramatic. Now, I cut my hair whenever I’m feeling stressed out. Whenever I’m looking for something to control. When I don’t like how things are going, or I don’t know what to do.

I’m not even sure if I like my hair cut anymore. Or if I know what looks good on me.

Kate puts down the mirror and takes her time touching her hair and combing her fingers through it.

Kate: But my hair is soft. My curls are forgiving. And for now it keeps growing.