The Breakover: Something's Gotta Change and I Think It's My Hair

7 years ago

There's a term I've seen floating around the gossip and fashion magazines and blogs lately -- Glamour has dubbed it the "breakover." It's the haircut -- or, in some cases,the entirely new look -- you get for yourself when you end a relationship. Recently Abbie Cornish and Jennifer Love Hewitt have both gone through public break-ups, with new cuts and colors to show that they -- or at least their hairstyles -- have moved on.

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Why do we cut our hair after a break-up? Is it a control thing, a recognition that the world, and the way it was when we were in a relationship, has changed, and the only thing we can control is our hair? Is it that we want the physical change to represent that "I'm not that girl anymore"? Is it that we want to spoil ourselves, to have the salon/spa experience and be taken care of and pampered? Or is it just that something, anything, has to change in order to balance out the bad juju of the breakup? Honestly, I'm not sure.

I'm very much in favor of the "that style is't me anymore" argument -- you know how after a breakup, you're all Gloria Gaynor "I'm not that chained-up little person still in love with you," and you need your look to reflect that attitude. So you cut your hair or change your lipstick or start wearing heels every day -- anything to be someone different than who you were before the break up.

And we all know how important a great stylist is, especially in the wake of a break up, both because she's going to be the one to cut your hair and creat your new look, and because she represents continuity at a moment of change. I was in one relationship where my boyfriend and I shared a stylist; after our break-up, I gave her the news: "In the unspoken custody agreement for places around San Francisco, he gets to keep the bar, but I get to keep you." It seemed like a fair division.

A break-over can be a good thing, if you approach it right. I had my own break-over recently; about four days before my recent break-up, I decided my new look for spring was going to be dark, smudgy black eyeliner. It's a little bit classic mod, a little bit grungy, and a lot more attitude than I usually wear on a daily basis. I also picked up some nearly-black nail polish -- maybe not the trendiest for spring, but I needed that extra boost of tough. I realize now, after that fact, that I was setting up my armor. Now that all is said and done, I've moved into the phase Liz Rizzo found herself in in November:

I find that what I *do* want to do with my time right now is to do things. Clean and organize my new apartment. Write. Stitch. Read. Dust off the exercise equipment. Listen to music. Study films. Cook. Take a bike ride. Spend time by myself. Not think about the whys or the whens or the whats. Just do things.

And good things can come out of it -- maybe it's a new look, a new style, or just a new outlook. It's not just a waste of the good panties. (Always wear the good panties! Always!) I'm keeping the nails and the eyeliner -- for now, at least.

Have you ever had a "breakover"? Was it a good change for you, or was it something that came out of the emotion of the moment?

-- Jeanne also writes for The Periodic Elements of Style:

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