Most articles on this subject invite you to put yourself in a box (or an oval, square, or “squoval”). If your face is oval in shape, good news: You can wear any style! Square? Hmmm… you need to be softened. Rectangle? Disguise those corners! Sharp angles need airy layers; roundness must be elongated. It’s limiting, and it’s negative, frankly. That is exactly why we asked iconoclastic scissor wizard Wes Sharpton to break down the conventions and give us another way to look at haircutting – which is a couture experience that doesn’t fit in any box of any shape – and neither should your face, angles and all.
“A long time ago, I made a vow to not have conversations with my clients that are focused on face shape. The media asks you to look at yourself, find what you don’t like, and then run to your hairdresser and ask for ways to hide it. God forbid that you have a square jawline and get a bob! That’s not a conversation that I want to be a part of anymore. Here at Hairstory, we talk a lot about being in a new world where old rules don’t apply – and the old rules involve a lot of body-shame.
I am interested in redirecting the conversation. It’s the same as looking at a curvy girl, and saying, ‘Don’t wear anything form-fitting.’ I find that hiding behind our hair because we aren’t perfect little ovals is not a message that we need to stand behind. At the same time, how do I approach a consultation if those rules are taken away, or a client comes in saying, ‘I’m square so I can’t have this,’ or ‘I’m round so I can’t have that?’
“I find that hiding behind our hair because we aren’t perfect little ovals is not a message that we need to stand behind.”
Instead, Why not have a conversation about what we like? Rather than looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking, ‘Oh God, I’m not an oval,’ think: ‘Oh my God! I have really amazing eyes!’ Then go to your hairdresser and say, ‘How do we celebrate my eyes? What can we do to bring focus to what’s really great about me?’
So, this idea of celebration allows me to look someone in the eye and say, ‘I really like this about you, and if we add a little bang, or cut this little corner off, or bring that line right to your jaw and celebrate it,’ the conversation becomes more exciting. The power of owning who you are and what you look like is something that I hope for myself and for others.
I remember watching a Diana Vreeland documentary and thinking how great she was at celebrating almost everything. She was the one person who looked at Barbra Streisand’s famous nose and said, ‘Shoot her in profile.’ You look at that photo and she looks confident and proud. So I thought, ‘What if we could inject that into hairdressing? How can we look at people in a fresh way that leads to different conversations that will resonate when they look at themselves at home?’ At the end of the day, fuck that whole face shape thing!
“As a hairdresser, I have the luxury to see you as you are – and not as you view yourself – because I don't have to look through your lens.”
When we’re thinking about a face, we want to discover what we can reveal and think about how to do it. So look at yourself in the mirror honestly and make a positive assessment. Shift that lens. As a hairdresser, I have the luxury to see you as you are – and not as you view yourself – because I don't have to look through your lens.
Maybe your hairdresser can even help you celebrate that thing that you think is so terrible. I’ve cut off a lot of hair in my time, and I don't think it’s necessarily the answer for everyone, but it is an exercise in how to navigate the world when you can’t hide behind hair. How do you stand when you are fully exposed?
If I cut your hair off and it launches an emotional journey, the value isn’t just in a great-looking result; it lies in the fact that you can get through discomfort to self-acceptance in 45 minutes. And you have a physical manifestation of the process. You get to take it outside into the world and see how people respond – which may be very different than what you expect.