‘Ur hair holds memories’ TikTok trend and the history of haircuts as a means of signaling personal change in pop culture

Gen Zers are ushering in change by way of new haircuts in TikTok’s latest trend.

The “Ur hair holds memories” trend sees TikTok users post a photo of themselves with longer hair, followed by a more recent photo of themselves with noticeably different and, at times, drastically shorter hair. The intention behind this trend, it appears, is to showcase their willingness to bid adieu to the past and embrace the present and future. Each video is set to a rendition of “I Love You So” by The Walters.

Katie Blake (@katie_blake222) said she “really did cut it all off after a traumatic experience.”

“new hair = new memories,” @illwait.4u replied.

“I notice we really come into ourselves when we chop it all off,” @stxrrynxght2.0 shared.

@gldyfaith debuted her shorter ‘do with the help of this trend.

“the good in goodbye,” she writes.

“getting a haircut in a few weeks because my hair is getting longer and he always told me to grow it out,” @user17827399273 shared.

“ready to let go,” @st3ph.xnie revealed.

TikTok user @chloemisandrist shared their hair transformation.

“you beautiful human omg,” @deft0nes.3nthusiast wrote.

“Went from Bridget to daddy just like that,” @tommy_get_the_strap commented.

Why do we do it?

So why the inclination to undergo a big chop during times of emotional distress? Well, historically, it seems people — both real and fictional, famous or not — have viewed a trip to the salon as symbolic of change or rebirth.

In season two, episode two of The WB’s Felicity, for instance, Keri Russell’s titular character makes the bold decision to forego her luscious and, at that point, signature locks in favor of a cropped cut. Bear in mind this decision appears to have come mere moments after she decided to end things with her boyfriend.

Perhaps a more notable example in popular culture, however, is when Britney Spears famously shaved her head in 2007, which, we now know, was in response to the unwanted scrutiny and attention she was paid by the world — especially the paparazzi — during a highly distressing, heartbreaking time for her.

“Shaving her head was a way of freeing herself from agony and exerting some control over the powerlessness she felt over her highly publicized life,” Sara Radin wrote for Dazed Beauty.

Rebecca Newman, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based psychotherapist, corroborates the idea that drastically changing our appearance can potentially lift “literal and metaphorical ‘weight.'”

“When we’re going through a period of transition that is particularly painful,” she says, “we tend to make decisions that provide immediate relief.”

And while the stakes may not be exactly the same, Gen Zers on TikTok are furthering the idea that hair holds weight and value. There’s an association to it, and in switching it up or chopping it all off, you’re fully relinquishing yourself to the idea of change; you’re embracing rather than running from it — and there’s definitely power in recognizing that.

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