This year, independence comes in the form of 1 inch cutting sheers.
I cut off all my hair.
I almost shaved my head. But, I didn’t. At least not yet.
There is only 1 inch left on top of my head. I had been thinking about it for quite some time. I feel the need to purge, to start fresh, in so many areas of my life, and my head seems to be no exception.
I can count the number of haircuts I have gotten in my entire life on one hand. Having naturally curly hair lends way to simply doing nothing, to cutting the ends occasionally and throwing my hair back in a pony or in a clip.
You know how people always seem to use physical characteristics to explain someone: that tall guy, that short girl…
Well, I have been from preschool age on, “the one with the curly hair.” I liked it in some ways, because it gave me a sense of identity. And, I secretly hoped that as long as people had my hair to identify me by, they wouldn’t have to mention that I was the overweight one too.
When we were in college, I convinced my husband to let me shave his head. He had huge curly locks and got sick of being known as “the guy with the hair.” I didn’t really get his motivation at the time, and frankly I loved the idea that I could convince a boy to shave his head for me- It felt powerful in a way :). But, I understand the motivation now.
When we started packing for our move across the country, I watched Horders for hours while I packed boxes. It helped me to determine if I really needed something. The show set off in me this epic need to purge my possessions. But I feel the push to purge and make new, in other areas of my life to. Writing my book has given me a more clear understanding of who I am now, where I have been, and most importantly where I want to be. It has taught me a lot about how I let fear dictate my choices.
Cutting my hair is really a simple thing. But, I mulled over it for a long time. I was afraid. I felt some sort of identity attached to it. Logically, I think it is somewhat idiotic, my hair doesn’t make me- I do. But, then I thought to myself, my hair does give a first impression. Sometimes people don’t get the chance to see me, but they do see my hair.
I thought about this: What do I want my hair to say about me?Do I want my hair to say that I play it safe and conform to what people expect of me? Do I want it to say that I am “hirable”? Because that is what it has been saying.
It is time for my hair to say something else. I am not even completely sure what I want it to say yet. I will tell you what I don’t need it to say. I do not need my hair to say ” this is a woman.”
The cosmetologist just looked at me, holding the 1 inch sheers in her hand, ” are you sure you want to do this?”
” for the third time, yes”
“Well, what if you hate it?”
” Then I will wear a hat. It’s hair, it grows back.”
” I just don’t know why you would want to cut off all your hair. People won’t be able to tell you are a woman.”
Despite the fact, that at that moment I was outraged with this woman on several levels, I once again asked her to proceed. When the haircut was almost done, she asked me how I wanted the whisps by my ears.
” I dunno, I shrugged, are there several ways to wear whisps?”
She proceeded to explain to me that I should wear them forward, in front of my ears, so that I can hint that I am feminine. Apparently, wearing wisps behind your ears is masculine- who knew!
I left my haircut really proud of myself and really pissed at that woman. She just reminded me how rigid our ideas of gender still are. What kind of hair I have, or what length of hair I have does not make me masculine or feminine. What if I did not identify as either of those terms? What if I had wanted to identify as masculine? I had not mentioned anything about my gender, or about how I identified. She put those cultural assumptions on me.
I had never really considered myself a feminist. And, I never really expected to be someone to give voice to issues of gender, but more and more recently I find myself becoming both.
I identify as feminine. This is not a matter of genitalia- or of the way I was born. My gender is something I identify as-something no one can take away that is innately me-what the world sees or what it doesn’t does not determine my gender- I do.
So today, I want to say that I affirm you dear reader. I affirm your gender however you identify, in all its beauty and all its uniqueness.
I affirm your hair ( or absence of) no matter the length or the style- because after all, it really is just hair.