I have short hair.

In May, I decided to get a haircut – a short one. I didn’t intend for it to be any sort of statement, deviance from the norm, or demonstration of further stereotypical fulfillment. I just did it because it felt right. I felt more like me. Towards the end of the summer, a friend pointed me in the direction of the Buzzfeed article 17 Things You Don’t Say To A Woman With Short Hair. Author janeclaireh lists these seventeen things that I relate to quite thoroughly:

1. So why’d you cut it?

2. You’re in that experimental phase of your life.

3. Well, hair grows back.

4. But you looked so nice with long hair.

5. Do you like it?

6. Do you like girls now?

7. Or bisexual?

8. Did you do it to save money on shampoo and conditioner? Smart.

9. You probably shouldn’t wear combat boots anymore.

10. I could never cut my hair like that. Like EVER. But it totally looks good on you, though.

11. But boys like long hair?

12. Um… it looks nice.

13. You remind me of Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

14. But it looks good! I swear.

15. Most people’s faces look really fat when they cut their hair short. But you don’t.

16. It’s sorta cool, because you can wear so much more makeup now and you won’t look like you’re trying too hard, because your hair will balance it out.

17. Do you ever worry someone might mistake you for a man?

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway

So why is it that a woman with short hair is so strange? What prompts people to ask these sorts of questions? Again, I believe it to be the societal idea that said short-haired lady has chosen to do something to break from the norm. Granted, a few comments listed above seem to have been written in jest, but I have been the recipient of the majority. In this conscious altering of appearance that is cutting one’s hair, people question one’s motives, self esteem, intellect, sexuality, etc. The idea exists that a woman may not know exactly what she is doing. She is “experimenting”.

Professor Parham challenged us to try looking at women without judgement. In recalling my summer of short hair, I am realizing how impossible this truly is.

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3 thoughts on “I have short hair.

  1. I have been amazed, in the processes of growing and cutting my hair over time, just how frequently people comment on my hair when it is short, but say nothing when it is longer. In particular, vendors and people asking for donations on the street seem to be eager to tell me just how good I look with short hair, as though it is something that not just *anyone* could pull off, like I am somehow special (and therefore better positioned to buy, give,etc). Note to the magazine salesman in Harvard Square: policing my gender will not get me to open my wallet.

  2. Up until I was 13, I’d had short hair all of my life. I didn’t actually like it that much, as it made me a huge target for bullies, but my parents preferred it on me, so I went along with it, despite the frequent pain that it caused me. When I was 13, I put my foot down: long hair was what I wanted. And so I grew it, and I kept it long. I was no longer told that I looked like a boy, which was a relief for someone whose gender identity was questioned up until the point that my hair hit my shoulders.
    Fast forward to 21. I’d just come back after a semester abroad and I felt weird. I loved my hair, but I wanted a change. I cut it. And I kept cutting it. My icon was Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, all eyes and pixie hair. Yet, I found myself compensating for my haircut. I became ever so obsessed with making myself hyper feminine, so that no-one would ‘mistake’ me for a boy. But now, instead of questions over my gender identity, I just got a ton about my sexual orientation. I guess the feminism and dr. martens probably also had something to do with this.
    Last year, I decided to grow out my hair again, mainly because I wanted to have hair that I could do something which again. But even though my hair is now mid-length-ish, all I ever do is tie it away from my face. So, in actuality, it isn’t that much different from having short hair. Yet I never field personal questions about myself through my choice of hairstyle anymore. If anything, it has the opposite effect. An example now would be: “You’re a feminist? But your hair is long!”

  3. This actually happened to me because I have my hair natural, as opposed to perming it. Everyone thinks it is political. The weirdest thing is that I have never thought of it that way, and I have only ever permed my hair once (gave in to the pressure). I found that I didn’t know how to take care of permed hair and I would do less damage to it with it like this.

    I think the problem is this grouping. One woman represents every woman. Just because someone met one woman who had short hair that happened to be bisexual, every woman who has short hair becomes bisexual to them. Same goes to the black hair movement that I sometimes catch myself pushing against.

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