Having cut and grown my hair out multiple times, I’ve experienced quite a few things in relation to hair and a woman’s looks that have left me feeling some type of way.
Let’s rewind almost ten years… The first time I cut my hair off I was still in high school. I went from hair that stretched down to the middle of my back to hair that I could not fit into a ponytail. I decided to grow my hair a lot longer than I usually kept it so that I could donate it to Locks of Love. It was a pretty nerve racking experience. I can remember gasping with the first scissor snip but by this time, there was no turning back. A few months later I moved to a new school and got the reassurance I needed when one of the teacher’s had peach fuzz because she was fighting cancer. All of my regret, that was mostly brought along by other people’s comments, was erased on the very first day of school.
Four years later, I had a full head of curls, and Anya Ayoung-Chee had recently won Project Runway with a half shaved head. I worked up the courage for a curly fauxhawk but my sister had just gotten engaged and asked me nicely to wait until I had finished signing my name on the dotted line as her maid-of-honor. I obliged. 8 months after the wedding my grandpa died. I went home to say my final good bye and returned to Florida with a head of cropped curls. I’d done it for the second time. Upon my return to Florida, one individual went on and on about how beautiful my long curly hair was and how much they did not like me with short hair. I got it when you announced it the first time, you did not need to harp on your distaste for my new haircut. But thanks, bruh, the joke was on you because you didn’t realize how little your opinion mattered to me.
In the middle of the next year, I had my head shaved for the first time. I walked out of the salon with a mohawk. My trips to the barber went on for another 3 years as the hair in the middle of my head grew out to my chin and the sides of my head would get shaved down to a 1 or 1.5. I could completely identify with men that spoke about having #freshshavefeels and I liked it! Through this time, I worried about how I was going to grow the sides of my head out when the time came for me to no longer sport a mohawk.
So a few weeks ago, I sat in the chair again and went from having hair that was chin length to curls that didn’t stretch past an inch when pulled out long for what should look like a length check.
The experience of cutting my hair time and time again has taught me a lot. Every single time I have cut my hair people have seen the need to express their distaste for my haircuts or my lack of hair. Thank you for thinking that you should have a say in my personal decision on how I choose to look. I’ve come to notice that this is a societal problem that stretches beyond women’s haircuts and into their clothing, bodies, personal life, and so much more. I promise you, saying “I really like your hair when it is longer” comes off a lot differently to a disgusted “why did you do that?”. Remember here, it’s not always what you say, sometimes it’s how you say it.
I was told multiple times that just because I could grow it with ease I wanted to cut it all of when so many women in the world were trying to have hair like mine. These people weren’t referring to women whose hair had fallen out because of chemo. They were referring to women that spent lots of money on hair they bought trying to achieve the mass of frizzy curls that crowned my head.
I have learned that society sets standards on women, their bodies, and the way they look. A lot of men see short hair as being masculine, and it certainly doesn’t help that I am built small and have a more boy-ish frame. Shortly after one of these hair cuts, one person asked me how my boyfriend felt about my haircut – said boy(friend) had a ponytail and we were certainly shaking up the relationship stereotype when it came to hair lengths.
Having various women comment on how brave I had to be to cut my hair off made me realize how many women’s identities are tied to their hair. The notion of this is super sad to me because you can literally go from having hair today and none tomorrow for medical issues.
During this time, the natural hair movement became insanely popular. I had multiple naturalistas come up to me and ask me how long I was natural for and when I answered “5 years” or whatever period of time that did not match the length of my hair they would walk off with a look of scorn on their face like I was a liar. Sorry ladies, the length of time I stopped chemically straightening my hair is not directly proportionate to the length of my hair.
On the plus side, the amount of time I save in the shower not having to detangle the mass of knots that formed in the middle of my head on a daily basis is definitely worth being told that I look like a little boy.
To anyone that has been on the fence about cutting their hair or has wanted to cut their hair but is scared of what others will think, just do it already! For most people, you can grow it back, it’ll just take some time. In the mean time, you’ll get to try a bunch of new looks.