Haircuts 2021: why the haircut selfie has become the next big thing in comparison culture

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
woman taking a selfie

One writer confesses to the smug joy she felt after getting a haircut during the pandemic, and explains why she’s sorry (but, actually, not sorry) for sharing a haircut selfie.

I have a public apology to make.

Last December, I was able to enjoy the freedoms of the tier two area I was staying in for the month, while friends back in tier four London were still pretty much living in a full lockdown. Feeling horribly smug, I booked a much-needed hair appointment.

I sat in the chair for three glorious hours, enjoying the sensation of someone painting my hair with bleach and weaving foils through it. I savoured every relaxing moment as the hairdresser washed my hair and gave me a heavy-handed head massage. She was one of the few people who I had physical contact with last year. 

You may also like

“I cut a new fringe with nail scissors during lockdown – this is what happened”

I kept saying “a bit shorter” when she asked what length I wanted. You see, my hair had been through quite the journey in the pandemic – boredom led me to cut a fringe with a pair of nail scissors, I’d ended up with orange streaks after trying to fix my roots, and at one point it was such a mess that I looked like a cross between Rod Stewart and a lion. 

That’s why I felt I deserved this: the most expensive cut and colour I’ve ever had. I left the salon with my pre-pandemic haircut – a bleached, blunt bob – and felt like my old self again. Actually, I felt like the old me but with Wonder Woman super powers. 

So, of course I honoured the occasion by sharing a selfie (or two) on Instagram.

Look, I fully knew that every single friend who liked the selfies also probably hated me at that moment in time. Many of them were still drowning in split ends and roots. “Jealous of your haircut,” one pal admitted. But, the truth is that I just couldn’t help myself. 

And for that, I am very sorry. Because I now know exactly how it feels to be on the other side, with roots that go down to my ears. 

Earlier this month, hairdressers reopened to the cries of relief everywhere. My Instagram feed has since lit up with haircut selfies posted by friends and celebrities – it’s like a ‘Haircuts 2021’ Pinterest board. Their freshly cut ends are so sharp that I can imagine slicing my finger open with them if I look at the selfies for long enough – a painful but pleasurable thought. 

Basically, I’m jealous as hell. I haven’t booked an appointment yet because I’m still financially recovering from my last visit. But I have hope that it will happen soon. 

You may also like

Balayage hair trends: all your questions about 2021’s most popular colour technique, answered

In the meantime, as friends (and, let’s face it, foes) continue to post their haircut selfies, I roll my eyes while beating down the ridiculous pangs of jealousy. I even find myself thinking “that’s so unfair!” when they share selfies of their manis and pedis, despite the fact that I’ve only ever had two manis in my life and hated them both. 

It’s a little bit like the response I have when people share the new job, new house, new relationship and new baby selfies that have created this era of comparison culture. Somehow, thanks to the pandemic, the haircut selfie has replaced the engagement selfie. 

So, the next time I leave the hairdressers convinced that I am in fact January Jones, I’d like to think that I won’t boast about it online. But we all know that I’ve already got the caption ready in my head…

“I just can’t help myself.”

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty, Hollie Richardson’s Instagram, Fearne Cotton’s Instagram


Share this article


Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…