*Be on the look out next week for our very first guest blog! It will be worth the wait, I promise!!*
I got my hair put into dreadlocks in the summer of 2012. I knew that when I was ready to be done with them I’d have to buzz my head and be basically bald. I felt super ready for that because one of my reasons for doing dreadlocks was to challenge traditional beauty norms. So I figured I could do the same with no hair as well. It was my way of saying I didn’t need long, conventional hair to be beautiful and, in fact, didn’t need hair at all to be beautiful.
I was done with my dreadlocks a year later. I buzzed my head – well, actually, friends did it – and I was suddenly incredibly exposed. I learned that I have a nicely round head and that it’s a lot cooler with no hair. It was an incredibly liberating experience and I am so grateful I had friends who supported me.
Since then, I’ve buzzed my head regularly on and off. I grew my hair out for a year and then started buzzing it again. Then let it grow for a while. Etc.
I currently buzz it regularly because it makes me happy. It’s the hairstyle I feel the most beautiful with. And oh mylanta, is it easy to maintain. It’s a good choice for me right now and for the most part, I’m really good at not caring if others don’t like it.
But….why do someone people dislike it? Why do I get stares from adults and children alike? Why do so many people assume I’m not attracted to men?
Because a woman with very short hair is going against the gender norms we are taught and constantly surrounded by. Implicitly and explicitly, as a woman, I am told I should want long, luscious locks. I am told I’ll be attractive to men if I have long hair – always worn down without a strand out of place. And we are all taught and barraged with images that reinforce this teaching: girls have long hair and boys have short hair.
And yes, of course there are always people of any gender not conforming to this, but…for the most part…this is the ideal, this is the norm and this is what people growing up in American culture are taught.
To that I say: dumb. Everyone should cut and style their hair however they want. In whatever way makes them happy. You know why? Because it always grows back (and then you can do something else fun!). Because it is yours – part of your body and thus under the authority of you alone. And because your hair length or style does not determine (or even announce) your sexual orientation or your gender identity. Go figure!
I love challenging these norms in the ways that are empowering to me and I encourage you to discover ways you can do it too. But really, I’m done with these norms all together. Who cares if a girl wants to have really short hair? How does it affect you if a man changes his hair color every month? Is it really the worst thing in the world to have to talk to someone in order to learn more about them? (Rather than making assumptions based on hairstyle, clothing, etc.)
Maybe that’s another reason why I love having short hair (and a nose ring and visible tattoos). I look this way and I am a person of faith. I look this way and I love taking care of children and cooking and baking. I look this way and am attracted to men. I look this way and it makes me happy.
A few weeks ago one of my littlest friends (a three year old) told me I look like a boy with my hair so short. Not only was I not remotely offended, I was excited! A perfect moment to tell a little one we can all look however we want and still be who we feel we are. And that’s exactly what I did. This kiddo has probably never been explicitly told girls have long hair and boys don’t, he’s just noticed it. I’m glad to be someone in his life who tells him that’s not always the case and that’s okay.
So many children are taught the opposite. Their upbringing reiterates these social and gender norms in such a way that they grow up to be fearful of those that are outside the typical. And we all know what enormous and unfounded fear can lead to (bathroom laws, anyone?).
So even if you aren’t bucking against the expectations placed on you by society with your style, challenge them with your words and actions. Be vocal in your parenting, your social circles, your community, your workplace.
Anyone can have short hair. Anyone can have long hair. Do with your hair what makes you feel good.
P.S. Check out this recent Huffington Post article!