I used to be fearless when it came to my hair. I prided myself on being the girl who didn’t throw a tantrum over a bad haircut. My attitude was it’s just hair. It grows back.
Looking through a photo album, I found these pictures placed on the same page. Visually, it sums up my hair journey in two distinct looks- I’ve had it two inches long and the color of cotton candy; I’ve had flowing locks in the shade I was born with- and every look in between.
When I was in grade school and junior high, I had a yearly ritual of cutting my hair short right before basketball season. I didn’t want my hair to interfere with playing the sport. My goal was to be the female embodiment of Larry Bird.
The cut was a bit misguided. I could have shaved every hair on my body and I still wouldn’t have had game. Once, my dad offered to give me a quarter for every basket I made during a tournament match-up. I pulled in fifty cents. The point is decisions were made based on what I wanted to do, not how I looked.
I had lunch with a friend the other day, who happens to be the mother of one of the most lovely and kind little girls I have ever met. Through her daughter, I get to vicariously learn what it would be like to have a daughter. She talks to me about mermaids. We play veterinarian. She twirls and dances and engages in many activities that would be typically deemed “girlie.”
She also has short hair. This girl is whip smart. She doesn’t like having hair in her eyes when she swims. When her mom has to comb out tangles, it hurts her head. She has thought it through. Why would she have a hairstyle that doesn’t work for her lifestyle? Ok, she didn’t word it like that, but she understands that her hair cut makes her life easier and more enjoyable.
I have never looked at her and thought she looked unfeminine. She’s adorable! She has those rosy cheeks of youth and health, huge eyes that look upon your face and fill your heart with joy. Her haircut only makes her look more like a cherub.
Over the course of lunch, the mother confided in me that an older girl asked her this question:
“Why does your daughter have short hair?”
“Because she doesn’t like it when her hair gets tangled. And she swims a lot and doesn’t like it when it gets in her eyes.”
“But doesn’t she know that it’s not pretty?”
Anger began to bubble for my vicarious daughter. I wasn’t mad at the little girl who asked the question- she’s a kid. But I really wanted to have a conversation with whoever has been telling her that there is only one way to be beautiful.
I have been made fun of many times in my life for “boyish” haircuts. Even though I knew the people making those comments were small minded, the words still hurt my feelings.
I am no longer so fearless with my hair. Am I more practical? I know I don’t want to have to worry about my roots growing. I rarely want to style beyond a ponytail. But is there some part of me that also let those mean comments take root? Am I scared to deal with the prospect of growing out a bad haircut?
I ran across a comment via Facebook, something to the tune of:
“You should cut your hair really short like a guy and wear highwaisted shorts- said no guy ever.”
I read this and thought maybe whoever you are talking about gives a rat’s ass about impressing guys. Aren’t women allowed to look and dress for the sole purpose of pleasing themselves? (as a side not, I never had a problem getting a date even when my head was shaved. So at least some guys are into that.)
Parents, please think about the messages you are sending to your children. Do you want your daughter to grow up thinking she can do or be anything she wants to be, regardless of the length of her hair? Or do you want the girl who refuses to leave her room after a bad hair cut?
I hate to think this girl- this sparkling, smart burst of energy and enthusiasm- could ever feel less than amazing because of some silly comment about the length of her hair. Be careful what you say. Children are listening and absorbing. What message do you want them to hear? What words should they repeat?