As many of you will recall from this blog post, I went bald a few years back in order to show my sister she wasn’t alone in her fight for cancer. I experienced a great many emotions and had to battle many different ideas, especially the idea that somehow my hair defined me as a person. It was all worth it, though, because I could see how much it meant to my sister.
Last weekend, I decided to chop off most of my hair. Besides the bald event, I have done it once before when I was in high school and I ended up wearing it really short for a few years. Now I’m finally back to the short hair look, maybe for good.
I didn’t receive half as many strange comments and looks this time as I did when I went bald, but I did receive one comment that made me think. I was in the elevator at work with our receptionist. She’s an older lady and I’ve sat with her to cross-train a few times and we’ve chatted. So I know she’s had a hard life but I also know she’s a strong lady and doesn’t seem bitter at all considering some of the things she’s been through. But as we were going down the elevator she asked me, “Did you cut it because you can’t be bothered or because you were trying to get back at someone? I once got a tattoo because I was mad at my husband.”
Even though I know this is a pretty common occurrence, I suppose I always assumed that people grew out of this idea that somehow we have to get back at someone else by finally succumbing to that thing we have always wanted to do but know they’ll hate it so we don’t actually do it until that moment when we we are upset and want to show them who we really are! It’s not that I haven’t done something similar to this in the past, because I have. It’s just that I’ve moved past it and feel that I no longer need to prove anything to anyone. The people we are with and who love us should be the most accepting of things we want to do with our own bodies, including cutting our hair or getting a tattoo.
Here are the top three reasons why I cut my hair:
- I can’t be bothered. Short hair is super simple and easy and takes me less than five minutes.
- My boyfriend loves my short hair. He kept telling me I looked sexy in short hair, but I thought I wanted it long again after doing the bald thing and having it short for so long. Turns out, I was wrong.
- I actually like the way I look in short hair.
I can tell you that none of my reasons had anything to do with gender and as much as my boyfriend likes my short hair, if I’d wanted to keep it long, I would have.
Which brings me to the thing that really bothers me about hair and these meanings we’ve all attached to it. Why is it that the length of my hair tells someone how feminine I am? Why is it that short hair is associated with being gay (for women, anyway)? Why is it that men somehow aren’t manly when they have long hair?
It’s just hair! It will grow back or it can be chopped off in a matter of seconds. Who cares?
I get that it can be pivotal in how we present ourselves, but why attach so much judgment to it? It used to be that people with mo-hawks and color in their hair were stereo-typed as depressed punk rockers who were looking for attention. My daughter decided to put dreadlocks in her hair a few years ago and she received many negative comments. People assumed she was a stoner and a drop-out.
I actually love the freedom of those people who have dared to step outside of societal norms, for whatever reason, to just be different. I don’t know why we have to punish them for their decisions. I don’t know why this idea exists that it’s not okay to be bald.
I, for one, love that society seems to be moving on. It’s more common to see bright colors in people’s hair; tattoos are more common; hair doesn’t seem to be as much of a label anymore, but it’s still there, still an issue, especially when it’s associated with gender in any way.
My son has long hair and he loves it. I love it!
What I really want to say is, do what you love. Be who you want to be. Stop worrying so much about the people around you and this ridiculous “societal norm” that doesn’t mean anything, or at least, it shouldn’t.
It’s just hair, people. Not only that, it’s a living, growing thing. It will grow back! Or, it won’t..
Either way, embrace it and stop judging others who have embraced their hair in whatever length or style they choose to wear it.