Something about change mystifies people.
“So why did you cut your hair?”
A reasonable question. I have red hair which is central to my identity. When I was in high school, I had to wear a uniform. In Maryland, there are many Catholics and many Irish Catholics, especially in a Catholic school. Meaning, my school had a fair amount of redheads. My friends would sometimes see the back of a redhead and assume she was me. By the time I graduated, I was fairly convinced that I was Conan O’Brien. Both of us could be identified by the outline of our hair alone.
I’ve always loved my hair. I would always get compliments on it from little old ladies in the mall, my hair stylist, friends, family, everyone. It was what I had going for me.
So when I came home with my hair barely reaching the bottom of my ears, my parents were shocked. My mother loved it, but just as when I had dyed my hair blue, my dad questioned it.
Although I got my hair cut months ago, I still am questioned on why I cut it.
My friend from Germany was staying with me after she studied in America and was preparing to return home. She decided she should get a haircut to look presentable upon her arrival. I was about to start an internship in DC and thought I should clean myself up too, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted. She wanted a trim, and I wanted something different.
“I want something sexy.” I said.
Then I began to contemplate my statement.
I had started a year of being single several weeks prior. I wanted to spend time being true to myself rather than losing myself in the desires of the men that won my affections. If you’ve ever seen Parks and Recreation, I was essentially Ann, taking on the interests of my boyfriends as I cycled through them.
So as the words left my mouth, I immediately ate them.
“F*ck that. I’m doing what I want. I want to cut my hair for me.”
So when we went into the salon, I started flipping through the books sitting there.
I pointed to short cut that was edgy and beautiful. One side was shaved (a fairly long shave), and one side swooped down to hit the girl’s cheekbone.
My friend tried to talk me out of it, telling me to wait. When she could tell I was insistent, we asked the hair stylist what she thought. With her thumbs up, we went for it.
When the hair stylist took the initial 6 inches off, we gasped. I already loved it. I almost told her to stop there. I bit my tongue and watched as she got out her clippers and dove in.
Shaving and cutting. Then more shaving. I wanted to ask her to put the clippers away. But at the end, I was in love.
For the first couple weeks, I harbored a fear that I was going to be called a boy or people would make judgements about my sexuality.
During this time, though I don’t identify as a part of the LGBTQ community, I had a tiny taste of what that experience might be like. Though it wasn’t frequent, people would joke about my gender or ask if I was lesbian. I never appreciated it and was deeply hurt when people would make me feel that I was less of a girl because of my hair. I also didn’t feel like anyone had the right to wonder if I liked girls. I felt uncomfortable knowing that my sexuality was something that people were curious about, as if they had a right to such personal information.
I definitely am not saying that I understand the adversity that those in the LGBTQ community face, but I feel like I understand it a tiny bit more. It was not fun.
Now that I have deeply fallen in love with my hair and am more secure about it, I roll my eyes when people call me a boy or ask me if I’m gay. I still don’t appreciate it, but my skin has grown thicker.
That was the negative part. The positives are far greater.
I got my hair cut for myself and I think it has made me much more confident. I feel truly myself and more beautiful because of it.
While it was never my aim to impress others, it was a byproduct. I’ve gotten incredibly sweet compliments from most of the people that loved my long locks. The best compliment though was from my cousin. She said it’s not just the hair cut that makes me look older, more mature, and beautiful, but it’s the confidence that I wear it with.
When the scissors closed around my hair, they didn’t just remove hair, they took the fears I had of what others thought. They removed social constraints that I lived within.
I cut my hair because I wanted to be true to myself. I wanted to let my heart lead me, not my fears, not my desire to be wanted by a man, and not the desire to be accepted.
I cut my hair for me.
I’m not lesbian.
I’m not a boy.
Don’t make assumptions about me or others, it’s rude.
But you should know, even though your assumptions may be hurtful, look at my hair and know that you can’t change or define the way I live.