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Megyn Kelly – and her hair – officially had a moment at the GOP debate in January.
As the country watched and waited to see how the Fox News host would conduct herself while moderating the Jan. 28 debate, which frontrunner Donald Trump memorably skipped primarily because of their prolonged beef, the 45-year-old mother of three demonstrated her power before even uttering a word.
The Kelly File host debuted a short new haircut in Iowa that evening, a dramatic new look she says mirrored her frame of mind.
“We change when we get in a different phase,” Kelly, who is included in PEOPLE’s 2016 Most Beautiful special issue, tells the magazine of her decision to lop off her long blond locks. “I think I was just in a stronger mood.”
Kelly jokingly called the cut “the big chop,” and admitted that the decision to make a dramatic change never comes easily.
“I think hair is sort of emotional for all women,” she says.
A lawyer-turned-journalist admired for her brains and beauty, Kelly has attracted fans across the political spectrum during this year’s contentious presidential race, especially since she refused to cower in the midst of repeated attacks by the controversial Republican frontrunner.
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Kelly even revealed on her show last week that she requested – and received – a sit-down meeting with Trump in an attempt to “clear the air.”
While Kelly is undoubtedly capable of handling power brokers no matter what her hair looks like, the Fox News star admits she feels especially fierce with her cropped new ‘do.
As she explains: “There’s something about putting your whole face out there that is just empowering: Here I am, have at it.”
• Reporting by EMILY STROHM