What happens when a Desi girl cuts her hair?

long hair vs short hair www.drivingmsdesi.comI was feeling really blah the other day, a culmination of the dreary winter that never ends, the spring that almost appears to be interrupted by chilly winds and of course Toddler Queen’s never ending tantrums. Which now seem to start the day rather than end with it (well those as well on occasion). The toll of it seems to have been taken out partly on my tresses. A joke to even call them that, having had phases of hair loss post baby that will start, pause and resume as it sees fit. Recently the hair colour from TWO years ago finally ‘ombred’ itself towards the ends and there in lied the root of my hair issues. The colour effected strands had become so dry they would easily knot together. Try waking up with a birds nest every morning and after every shower! Brushing it out meant breaking strands and finding clumps of my whittled down hair stuck to my husband’s hair brush (my daughter and I both insist on using his brush much to his annoyance!). In a moment of frustration I booked an appointment at Toni & Guy.

long hair vs short hair www.drivingmsdesi.com

The hubs also happened to show me Kaley Cuoco’s (of The Big Bang Theory fame) new hair cut just then and I was inspired to chop it all off. Now if you are desi you probably are aware that cutting your Bollywood long tresses is akin to a cardinal sin (ok slight exaggeration). You would think that times have changed and with modernity has come freedom of hair choice. However the instinctual reaction when you tell most desi’s what you are about to do is something similar to the 5 stages of grief.

“I am going to cut my hair”

“A trim? Yes that would be nice, helps the hair grow faster” Stage 1: Denial

“No, I am going to cut it short”

“What?!!!” Stage 2: Anger

‘”I thought it would be nice, I need a change.”

“But why? I like your hair long. You can do so much with it. You look like Aishwarya Rai”  Stage 3: Bargaining

“It will grow back”

“But it will take so long to grow back again” Stage 4: Depression

“I’m fine with that”

“Hmm. I guess it would make you look younger” Stage 5: Acceptance

And this is what happens when you don’t tell them and just show up with your new do.

“Hi. Look I got a hair cut”

“Hey, nice blouse.” Stage 1: Denial

“I cut my hair!”

“Oh I noticed” Stage 2: Anger

“So what do you think?”

“”But why? I liked your hair long. You could do so much with it” Stage 3: Bargaining (a little too late)

“Well I like it like this and it will always grow back”

“Desi clothes don’t go with short hair,  now what are you going to do at ___’s wedding?” Stage 4: Depression 

“It’s a nice change. I think it will just be a different look.”

“I suppose. You could even get away by sitting at the kid’s table” Stage 5: Acceptance


I have braved many a short do in my lifetime and have been the recipient of all kinds of reactions. My mother used to give me the standard ‘boy cut’ when I was a toddler to which I rebelled in my tween years and insisted on keeping it long. But I didn’t really know much about style back then and found the hair to be long and drab and my natural waves were always brushed out to be frizzy. I discovered layers at age 15 which brought out my natural waves but then throughout school the teachers thought my hair was always ‘messy’. In my teens and early twenties I experimented with highlights, layers and shoulder length hair, still trying to find the right look. I was ‘cursed’ with a ‘younger’ looking face (which has turned into a blessing now!) but when you’re 21 you don’t want to look like a pre-teen. When I met ‘my man’ I went into Bollywood mode and started growing out my tresses to achieve the classic desi feminine look, romance brought out the girly girl in me. Plus you just HAD to have long hair to work with the bridal up do otherwise how could one get married?? (extensions had not become trendy back then).

desi girl www.drivingmsdesi.comCue desi girl transition, from the shy, innocent girl in love (think Juhi Chawla) who gets married, gains confidence and blooms into a desi woman (hmm.. I want to say like a Lara Dutta).  For me this newly gained self assurance and a starting of the next phase of life had to be symbolized in the best way of self expression I knew how. The hair cut. Saeeda Mandviwala and the Toni & Guy way were the only ones daring to bring the change to hair in Pakistan. I started with the razor sharp bob and a few months in I went pixie short. Apart from the typical reaction (as depicted above) the really thoughtful ones were those likening me to Audrey Hepburn (all time favourite actress).pixie hair www.drivingmsdesi.com

Above all, my husband LOVED the hair styles and his was the only approval I wanted. At first I used to be sensitive about the typical desi reaction, but then I developed a thicker skin and learned to see it as just a cultural myopia, not to be taken personally. Kind of like the flip flopping of short and long kameez trends in women’s attire. Some people just cannot get passed one or the other because of its long history, associated comfort of the familiar and simply their preference! But with time things change and hopefully so will perception. As far as Bollywood goes short hair will forever be depicted as a) awkward nerdy girl with glasses, braces and acne (the before shot before the make over making heroine) b) a child c) the flirty middle aged aunty.

You take your pick. I am heading over to middle aged aunty it seems 😉


At the end of the day, my hair stylist Paul Sanchez did a fabulous job and shared my excitement on working to make this bob my own. I think it turned out pretty great. So if you’re thinking of going short, I say JUST DO IT!!! 😀

(if it turns out a disaster however, err make sure you carry a hat and shades in advance!- relax it will grow back)


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  1. Sarah 27 April, 2014 / 10:18 pm

    Hahah this literally made me laugh out loud!!

  2. Sabrina 29 April, 2014 / 1:52 am

    lol….happens to me every time I think about cutting my hair.

    • Sanober Bukhari 2 May, 2014 / 2:06 pm

      I can relate.Tip: if you really want to do it, just do it without running it by anyone (unless it’s someone whose opinion matters) but even so I say take ownership of your own hair…!!

    • Sanober Bukhari 26 May, 2014 / 10:29 pm

      oh wow….thank you!! will check it out 🙂 much love

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