I have many things swirling around in my (very bald) head and I must let them out. I shaved all of hair off, right down to the wood, for the second time in as many months. I love it. I shave my head for various reasons – my hair is too damaged, it’s too hot and sticky outside, being bald is strangely liberating, and frankly, it shaves a lot of time off my morning routine. (Pun intentional and apt.) I often quip that hair is dead cells; it will grow back, and so what?
But it isn’t just dead cells. Hair is a battleground. People who have lost their hair for reasons outside of their control resent being forced to be bald. Rightfully so. No one likes have their choices taken away. My hair grows just fine, and I enjoy my colourful Mohawk a lot. But I resent the fact that being a female means that you must assume a longer and more labour-intensive grooming routine. Body hair plucked, shaved, waxed off, but never, ever should the hair on your head be anything but long and flowing and waiting to be stroked by a man’s hands.
My hair has elicited so much confusion over the years. Did you mean for it to look that way? Are you a dyke? (Are you sure?) Have you ever thought about growing your hair out? (Yes…I also thought about poking your eye out for asking me that, but lucky for you, I won’t be doing either of those things.) I defend the right of every woman to look the way that she wishes to look, and if that includes long mermaid waves, then let it be so. But how in the hell did women get saddled with all of this cultural baggage about hair?
I read a very frustrating story about a little girl who donated her hair to a cancer charity in order to make wigs. After cutting her remaining hair into (an adorable) pixie cut, kids at school told her she was ugly and looked like a boy. The Internet community has rallied around to defend this poor girl. Didn’t people know that this girl donated her hair for CANCER? But…what if she didn’t donate it to cancer? What if she just….wanted to cut her hair, and then she did it? Would we still be rallying around the cause? Why does she need some kind of special permission (like donation) to be allowed to cut off her hair? If she had gotten her hair cut short simply because she wanted to choose for herself, would we tell her that she should have expected to be teased? Would she still have her own hashtag?
If she was tired of the washing and combing and styling. If she wanted a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning. If she wanted to know how it would look. If it was getting in her way playing sports. Or just because. These are perfectly legitimate reasons for cutting your hair. I can tell you on good authority that plenty of little girls with short hair get made fun of all the damn time. They’re told its ugly, they look like boys, that they are not attractive enough to get dates.
Why are girls being told that it is their job to be pretty? Why do non-conforming girls and women have to spend so much f$@?ing energy explaining themselves?
People are not as quiet or subtle their judgements as they think they are. The city street is, annoyingly, no better than the hallways in high school. In the past few years, I have developed an almost pathological indifference to put-downs about my appearance in general. I spent grade school thinking that it would be easier in high school, and high school thinking it would be easier at University, and University thinking it would be easier once I was a proper adult. After spending my entire life being bullied or put down in some way or another, I’m just now (pushing 35) fully grasping that these comments are empty. They say more about the people who make the comments than they do about me, and they don’t ever touch the things that I truly care about. There’s nothing anyone can say to me about my appearance that could be worse than what has already been said to me over the years. (Or worse than what I’ve said to myself.) Just try me. Want to tell me I’m ugly? You’re free to look away. If you want to get my attention you’ll need to hit me where I live – tell me I’m a lousy mother or a bad friend…that I’m inauthentic, lazy, disloyal.
I notice and even sometimes comment on the appearances of others. But I’m learning to do that less, to invade other people’s privacy as little as possible. I wonder at times if that would be a more effective cure for bullying? Maybe instead of asking kids to find the beauty in everyone, we should teach them to mind their own business. End rant.