I never thought about hair as a statement of anything until I started listening to podcasts and reading about the politics of hair.
To me, hair was hair and sometimes you got it right and sometimes you tried new stuff that was not a good idea so you never did it again.
Then I started talking about it, and I had no idea there was so much attached to hair especially in heterosexual relationships of men commenting on your hair:
- Long hair = pretty, sexy, feminine
- Short hair = boyish, unnattractive, manly
- Bald = OMG you are not even a woman (WTF is up with this reaction?)
This is not the reaction of ALL men of course, but in general I have observed the above although short hair looks very gamine on many women and looks fantastic on them. I’ve also heard that short hair “weeds out the weirdos and creeps” as well.
I asked my partner a long time ago when we started dating, what he would do (playfully) if I shaved my head.
He looked at me, gave my question a serious consideration, and said:
“You would still be the same person to me, and I’d love you no matter what your hair was.
It’s just hair.
And, you would probably feel more comfortable during summer and “free” without the heavy, hotness of your hair.
Do you want me to razor your head?”
……. to which I obviously said:
OMG NO. I WAS JUST ASKING.
I didn’t think much of it then, but when I started talking to other women who griped about their hair and so on, I realized that his reaction is in the minority.
Most guys, have a specific thing about hair on the women they love or are interested in. They want it to be long, short, but not too short, or wavy, or curly, or a certain colour.
I had no idea. I guess I just assumed my partner was the same as everyone else.
And let’s not even get started on the politics of black women being “allowed” to wear their hair naturally. What a load of crock.
There is SO MUCH stigma on both sides attached to having your hair straight, or leaving it natural, or shaving your head.
My friend told me she spends her Saturdays getting it braided, or weaved, and when someone comes near her hair, she turns into a ninja:
“DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING THE WEAVE”, she threatens
She can’t even go swimming unless her hair is in braids.
I had no idea.
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER…
When I was younger I dreamed of long flowing locks like a Disney Princess. Ariel was obviously my favourite and I even snagged a fork to comb my hair like her when I was younger until my brother squealed on me and proclaimed it to be disgusting that I was even doing it.
Let’s back up a bit because the story starts with me being a little baby before toddlerhood, physically YANKING OUT my locks until I had bald spots all over my head because I found it comforting to do that while sucking my two fingers.
Why? NO IDEA WHY.
Just the thought of what I did makes me cringe in pain but I do fairly recall it being something I remember doing as a kid — tug, suck on fingers, tug my hair some more. I was obviously a weirdo in the making.
Anyhow, my mother, horrified that her little baby girl was doing this to herself, had her hopes and dreams of a little doll dressed up in curls and ribbons dashed as my parents made the decision to cut my hair so short that I’d have nothing to grip on to tug out.
I basically look like a boy dressed in pink frilly clothing for most of my Baby/Toddler years.
As I aged and grew out of this strange, creepy hair tugging obsession of mine, my mom finally had her dreams realized and my hair grew down past my waist.
She put it up in curls, she curled it with curling irons for me for special occasions, I had ribbons all over the place — a dream.
Until one day…. she decided to give me permanent curls.
Yes. PERMANENT curls.
She took me to the hair dresser, I basically got an 80s perm (imagine this on a 7-year old if you will), and because we had no idea how to deal with curly hair and no one taught us, it turned into a disaster when I washed it — all frizzy, damaged, ugh. No conditioning, NADA. A mess.
I had an afro, of sorts, until my next hair visit when the horrified hairdresser told me that she had to cut as much as she could out because it was split to the root.
I tearfully agreed and my hair was cropped shorter than a boy’s cut.
Fast forward to finally getting the good sense to veto my mother’s well-meaning suggestions to “give it another go”, the perm, she meant, now that “we know how to care for it”, I refused to touch my hair for years. I cut it in simple, boring layers and let grow out.
When I started my first job…
I only finally got it cut when I got my first job and decided to have it cropped to just below my shoulders. WHAT A RELIEF.
I discovered how short of a time it would take to shampoo and condition my hair, now that basically 20” was chopped off (and donated to the Locks of Love (for cancer victims) as virgin hair, untreated, I dyed & beautifully thick) and it was marvellous. I had so much free time!!!!
I let it grow out again and on and off, would let it get long, then donate the lot to Locks of Love again.
It wasn’t until I had Baby Bun that I went through the stage ALL new mothers go through — the desire to crop your hair and start anew as a new mother, so it were.
I again, let it grow out and gave it to Locks of Love. I however, had cropped it SO SHORT to give the maximum amount, that I looked like a mushroom head for the next 6 painful months as it grew out.
Finally, I realized two things:
1. My hair is best just below the shoulder. Any longer and I get irritated then go too far with the scissors then regret it.
2. I like simple haircuts that have near ZERO maintenance and I am too lazy to do anything to it in the morning, so let’s not even bother.
Then the ultimate: I learned how to DIY cut my own hair and this second time around (I just did it last week!!!) I went a little shorter on the second cut to give me layers and movement, and my hair looks AWESOME.
Literally. Like model professionally cut hair.
Look how good it sometimes looks in the morning — this is my actual hair & head shown below on Instagram @saverspender:
I have had so many compliments on how good my hair looks from random strangers telling me, to people I’ve eavesdropped on, calling my hair amazingly bouncy and beautiful, followed by a half jealous snort of .. “lucky bitch”, to Sephora associates coming up and asking me how I get my hair to do that.
These days, I let my hair do what it wants to do and if it sucks at the curl one day and goes the wrong way, I just put it up in a bun or a ponytail and call it a day.
Cost to care per year now?
About $200. The price of shampoos & conditioners.
I am super lucky and I know it. Trust me. I have zero experience with stigma or negative reactions to my hair (these days anyway) and on my end, it has ALWAYS been positive for the most part, once I stopped letting my mother use my hair like an experiment.