By Kristina Valdez

Toward the end of my freshman year of college, I decided to get a spontaneous haircut. I had never cut or dyed my hair before. I wanted to change my outward appearance to show the world the change I felt inside myself. I was confident, and I had a year of college under my belt.  

With the shower running, I pulled nostalgically on the short chunk of hair around my frontal lobe, willing it to grow with each tug. How could it get any worse? Oh, yeah, my hair is missing. I thought immediately of Kuzco in Emperor’s New Groove when he cried in the rain as a llama. I was Kuzco. The comparison made me smile despite myself and my melodrama.  

When I got out of the shower, I wrapped a towel around myself and looked in the mirror. My hair was jacked up to the tenth degree; I could tell that much through the foggy mirror. Sighing, I picked up my phone to call my mom while I subconsciously ran my fingers through my botched hair. My mom answered on the second ring.  

“Hey. Are you okay?” my mom asked.  

I had been texting her all day about my hair.  

“No,” I said my voice wavering. I put my hand over my face as I began to cry. “I have a mullet, Mom.”

But, I began to laugh, too. It was tragically comical me having a mullet. Hahahaha. Ha.  

The truth is that I didn’t want a mullet; I wanted bangs. But, the problem with me wanting bangs is my hair texture. I am black and Mexican. I have thick curly black hair that coils and bounces with as much volume as a lion’s mane.  

When the hairstylist cut my hair, she didn’t think about how curly hair works. She didn’t know my bangs would need to be cut longer than normal because of my curl shrinkage. The scissors sliced through my hair and a chunk fell to the floor in a slow motion. The chunk of hair was just that a chunk. She cut too much and too short.  

I didn’t realize the damage done to my hair because I had gotten it straightened and styled. With my bangs straightened, it barely grazed my eyebrow hairs. I wore my hair straight for a week as I slowly began to realize that my bangs weren’t bangin’.  

I cried with my mom on the phone a little while longer on my twin-sized dorm room bed. I also couldn’t help but crack a couple of jokes about my hair. I was a mullet-wearing Kuzco.  

I didn’t tell anyone about my botched bangs. I braided my hair, wore buns and used bobby pins to hide my bangs. I was too sensitive to tell anyone, including my friends. If anyone asked, I was fabulous and never had bangs.  

My hair didn’t turn out well, but it didn’t negate the fact that I had grown during my freshman year. I was no longer the naive freshman rolling a mattress pad on her dorm room bed. I was confident, beautiful and strong. Now, all I needed was my hair to grow back.