Credit: Mary Victor

“Picture this: You walk into the salon knowing exactly what hairstyle you want. It’s a chin-grazing layered bob. You tell the hairstylist about your dream ’do, but you are told to reconsider and opt for another hairstyle that will ‘frame your face and make you look slimmer’.

Your heart completely sinks, and you wonder if you should go for the recommended hairstyle instead. You come out sad, not confident, hating not only your hair, but also how you look. That was my experience 90 per cent of the time when I went to salons.

Hair and makeup artist Mary Victor on how damaging internalised fatphobia can be. Credit: Mary Victor

Hairstyles that promote a ‘slimming look’ can cause so much damage to our body image and self-esteem. For years, I’ve feared hairstyles that made me look fat. I was told that shorter hairstyles can make your face look rounder.

When the wolf cut (layered haircut with short, choppy layers at the crown area) became a trend, many went for the chop, but there were also people like me who felt like they couldn’t pull it off because it made them look ‘bigger’.

Recently, I asked my friends and family why many of them chose to keep their hair long. Their responses got me thinking. ‘My friends told me that I look slimmer with long tresses’ and ‘I’m scared of short hairstyles because they will make my face appear chubbier’ were some common reasons why those around me sported long, cascading strands.

For many, hair holds a high level of importance, and the wrong haircut can affect their mental health and confidence. For others, hair is meant to be fun; they change their look without thinking about whether they get judged or shamed, or whether it is trendy. It doesn’t matter.

Credit: Mary Victor

As a professional in the hair and makeup industry, I find that a lot of my clients request for ‘slimming’, heavily contoured makeup looks. The same goes for hairstyles. They use their hair to hide parts of their foreheads and cheeks.

I always remind my clients to forget the ‘rules’ and embrace their individual beauty instead. I hope each client leaves my makeup chair feeling good about themselves.

I want to share an experience from my childhood that has been etched into my memory. As a teenager, I was bullied a lot, and a lot of it was about how my hair looked. I was always changing up my hairstyle in hopes that the bullying would stop, but it got worse and my anxiety deepened.

Credit: Mary Victor

When I graduated, I told myself, ‘That’s it!’ I was going to do anything and everything to my hair. And so, I bought some bleach from a hair supplies shop and dyed my hair blue. I didn’t stop there. I went from long hair to a pixie cut. It dawned on me that hair can always grow back. I wanted to have fun with it. All the internalised fatphobia suddenly didn’t matter to me, and I finally felt confident because I got the hairstyle that I’d always wanted.

Today, I’m 25 and rocking a jet-black bob that’s just above the shoulders… and I’ve never felt better.

My biggest takeaway from this: Forget ‘face-slimming’ hairstyles! If there’s a hairstyle or colour that you’re thinking of, go for it. You deserve to feel good in whatever style you wear, and the opinions of those around you don’t matter.

Take it one step at a time, and have fun while you’re at it!”

As told to us by Mary Victor, hair and makeup artist and Her World Tribe member.