So here I am, looking back at the past 7 years of my hair growth journey. I am not at the best health, although probably recovering, and my hair is falling out. It has been shedding since summer, so far it has only cost me thickness but soon it will cost me length...I hope not more.
It is very frustrating to see my hair go, I feel it when I comb it, when I make a bun or braid it, when I wear it down. Looking at my lengths in the mirror, they have gotten "transparent"...it is like they are just going to dissappear. Imagine you had hair below your buttocks one day, and just a few months later is dissappears like it was never there.
The past 7 years have certainly been a "revolution" for me. I know when you see someone with very long hair you must imagine they have had it like that all their life. You would not imagine that the very same person might have a fashionably short haired past, or you might even think that for some people long hair is just granted..it grows like weed to any length and never breaks or gets damaged. I have definetly heard many "myths" on long hair.
Well, I was not one of those people. I do not have any super genes that bless me with long hair. I know there is people out there, they are often quite famous for their amazing hair. But yeah...I am pretty much there with every average woman, and still I was able to grow healthy hair to an amazing length.
My short haired past
I had short hair as a child, my mother was not one of those mothers trying to turn her daughter into a princess. She was a tough 80'ies business woman with her hair usually around chin length and styled fashionably. I admired my mother, I thought she was the prettiest woman alive (like all little girls I think), yet I did not wannt to imitate her looks. Instead I have always dreamed of the medieval princess type....long flowing hair and a long gown. That was what I considered beautiful ever since I can remember.
My own hair was kept at shoulder length, I asked to grow it long..but because I was a wild child who was always outside playing in the woods, getting dirty, climbing trees and buildings (!) it was often tangled and messy, like dirty spaghetti. I acted as if I had wonderful hair though....hard to describe, I think I was vain about it.
When I grew up to be a teenager, nothing could hold me back anymore from growing my hair. Best I knew was to avoid the salon my mother sent me to and instead buy comic books from that money, read for an hour and then come home and pretend I had a haircut. Sometimes she would say that it does not look shorter, but she soon gave up.
But it was not like I imagined...it grew long, but my waist length hair was damaged due to mistakes I had made when growing it. The worst sin was probably bleaching my dark brown hair to a coppery color.
It did not look ragged really, but a bit dry, had splits and tangled easily.
My 90'ies haired classmates used to bother me about my hair, many girls made frequent comments about it, how it is too stringy, thin and that they would cut it off if they could catch me after school. They bullied me in general about the way I looked. I never understood why they needed to bother me just to tell me I look so ugly...why the effort?
Anyway, I did not give in to damage or bullies then and tried to save my long hair. I was able to get it into a better state of health at Midback - Bra Strap Length. My bullies were out of my life (lets just say I took care of them) and I was considered to very pretty all of a sudden. People wanted to know me, but already then I had made my decision, I did not want to know the kind of people that treated me bad. To this day I despite shallow people, and many other character flaws.
I cut my hair shorter on my 16th birthday, shoulder length...and I maintained it short for a while. I was experimenting with different cuts and color a bit (never shorter than a long bob though) and did not really think of having long hair again. The people around me confirmed what I have always been told...that I should not wear my hair long, that I don't have the type of hair to wear it long, that is would be too fine, thin, fragile too whatever...I think every possible fine hair clishee was poured out over me.
And I came to believe it.
It then so happened...when I was 19, that I "accidentally" grew my hair a bit. I just did not go to the salon for a couple of months..I was really busy with other things. I would say my hair was a good deal below shoulder length. It looked good actually. But in the name of fashion I wanted to try a layered long bob style. I had seen it in a japanese fashion magazine, those are always fashion foward and the new technique of layering and thinning hair with a razor was something I liked.
The stylist messed it up badly though, it really looked like I had 2 layers of hair, like the way a wedding cake looks. Top was chunky and chin length, and the bottom layer just a few thin bits. It was so horrible I did not wear it natural for months, instead up or curled/wavy.
And the journey begins..
But that is when I started growing my hair, without a goal..I just knew I wanted to get away from that ugly hair cut. At that time I started medieval reenactment, hairwise it had a huge influence on me, because I remembered the medieval princess with the long hair. My own hair was a bit longer again, below shoulder length, it was a bit layered and healthy.
I sort of "crashed" into the medieval scene on my first visit. Stood the whole weekend in different camps, people were so friendly they gave me food and a place to sleep. To my surprise I received lots of compliments on my hair, things I have never heard. I never really paid attention to the fact that I had shiny hair. Many suggested I should grow it longer.
I made a pact : "I will let it grow as long as it is healthy and looks good". Back then I did not expect to get far, but I thought Bra Strap Length would not be so bad. I really did reach that length.
Not much later I felt even more confident and after experimenting with layers I grew my hair a bit more. Very carefully really since I was still afraid of a sudden barrier...I'm not quite sure what I imagined, but stylists still told me my hair should not be too long.
By late 2005 it was at waist length again. The length where I had stopped then. I did start to notice changes in my hairs health, but nothing drastic. My ends felt a bit dry sometimes, they would get tangled when I sleep on them at night..it was a whole new length.
A new chapter
I did not know what to do with all that hair, I just realized how long it had gotten. That is when I started searching the web for "long hair styles", which brought me across a long hair Forum.
I could not believe a forum about long hair existed, but it was there and everyone had pictures of the back of their heads in their signature. Many women had hair so long...you barely see that in real life.
I was then interrupted by very bad news. It was suddenly decided that my (now Ex) husband had to go to Iraq. We thought we were lucky since a bunch of troops from our baracks has already been sent. I mean after all he somehow was not sent in 2004 because he was at the very bottom of the list..but this time he really had to go. Within one month my husband had left to Iraq, I can't describe how I felt...constantly being worried that something might happen, coming home to an empty apartment. It felt unreal.
I tried to distract myself, spent lots of time on the internet. Also on that said Longhair Forum. I then had the idea to grow my hair as long as my husband was deployed.
I had a rough start, after a salon visit went wrong all hair started breaking off, it thinned a lot...similar to now, but I still grew it out. Back then I changed my hair care emmensely, not only that, my quick peak into biology classes at Army College took a turn when I had to write an article about human hair. I did not quite stick with the topic but my professor was impressed and when he heard that I wanted to know so much about hair because I was growing it, he referred me to other classes that could be useful. In the end, abusing my military ID...I took every class possible, German or English, anything that could help me grow beautiful long hair. Once I had enough knowledge, I saw that it is so easy to do everything wrong...but also easy to do everything right. You just need a lot of patience to fix mistakes you have made over years.
Long story short...by the time my (Ex) husband came back my hair was tailbone length.
I guess by that time I officially had a "hair spleen", my friends and family made fun of me all the time when I tried to give advice, but they were also impressed with what I had achieved.
On the hair forums, especially German forums, I was passing out a lot of advice to people also trying to grow their hair. My hair was so admired by some and my advice wanted, it was crazy. More and more people kept asking me for help, and that was when I decided to write all of my knowledge down on a website.
Knowing that my own journey and story had inspired many people, I included it on that website. My sister, friends and cousin were also growing their hair, inspired by me.. and I thought it would be a great idea to include their journey on my website too. That way we could show the world how to grow long hair and that it can look so beautiful. I know many people have really bad clishees about long hair in their heads...from boring over damaged, not fashionable, not past a certain age...but that is all simply bull shit. Long Hair is glorious at any age on any person...you do not need the face for it like you do for the latest bob.
Short hair is what others may prefer, and I accept that, but I am only trying to say that with long hair there is no "bad hair cut".
I was still growing my hair, my goal has changed many times. It is called "hair anorexia" on forums, we joke about it but there is some truth to it, once you start growing your hair most end up wanting it longer and even longer. I guess it simply is because you truely love a very long length but having much shorter hair you can not imagine wearing it yourself until you actually get to experience long hair. Once it is very long, your perception on hair length also changes.
In 2007 we moved to the States after my Ex husband got out of the Army. I was unhappy about it, but it was the best solution for us at that moment. It was also a good job opportunity for me working in New York.
I had found more people for my website, willing to document growing their hair. I offered them free consultation in return. I got the idea of opening a little forum so those people could interact with each other if they had questions. That was January 2008, and since then the forum has grown into something I never planned, but just what came naturally. My website experienced the same thing..more and more people got inspired and loved what I do, they loved that private family atmosphere on the forums. By now I have about 70 people documenting on the website (and I have to keep that small), they are put into 3 groups, depending on how long they have been with us. There is also many independent members on the forums and I somehow turned into everyones Guru. Under my nickname, which I have kept private, many people know me and my hair on the forums.
How did I come to help people?
I think it has to do with the fact that I know what it is like to want something badly, but it is hard to get. I know how I felt thinking I could not grow long hair, and I don't want people to be sad and give up because of mistakes that can be fixed. I want to be guidance, support, good advice and a friend...or my community that is, because really I'm just a woman who grew her hair long. But my forum is influenced by my values and ideas.
The end? Or a new beginning?
I was glad to see my hair improving so much also, I know to many my hair looked great already, but I imagined what it would be like once all the taper from breakage, old dye and layers were gone. All "virgin hair", all well cared for.
Like you know know, it did not continue smoothly for me. I had just reached classic length (buttocks) when I fell ill. There is a lot to my sickness but to explain briefly - I had a cancer scare combined with hormonal imbalances. Quit birth control in July because of the possible negative long term effects of this powerful drug. Then I was treated under the headline "cervical cancer", although I did not have real cancer yet, I had an infection and abnormal cells. The treatment was exhausting.
After all that was over, October 2009 I was left in a bad state and I was still loosing my hair. At first I did not worry too much but when in December my hair started getting so thin at the bottom that I had trouble photographing or filming it (like you could not see it on camera) I got worried.
I am currently visiting a lot of Doctors to find out what happend and hoping that I get to keep my hair or at least most of it. That means that I may have to shorten it significantly but I am hoping for the best..which would be a not so big trim I guess. I have already shortened it about 2" because the ends just looked too transparent.
Honestly....going much shorter would be the hardest thing for me to do after this journey. Be warned that if you start a journey like that there is a risk that you get really emotionally attached to your hair. And I don't mean that type of attachment someone has when they might like a change, but are just hesitant to go for it because of what they are used to. What I mean is - when you have achieved your dream and your ideal through hard work, and something is threatening it. That is how I feel.