Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Woman's Hair...


I could stop there, but you might worry that someone had killed me and hijacked my blog if I didn't add 3000 words to the above, amiright?

I recently cut my hair short again, after growing it out for 2+ years. Here's a before and after picture. The hair I cut off was 12in long when braided (here's another picture)! I'm a little (but not too much) embarrassed to say that I grew it out because I saw pictures of myself with short hair when I was pregnant with Ishmael, and thought the extra 50lbs, some of it in my face, was not flattered by my hair. Long hair does make me look a bit more feminine, in the traditional sense of the word, and so I grew it out during my pregnancy with Ira.

I just looked up the photos (see below) of me in the hospital with each of them to compare, and it doesn't look as different as I thought (my hair is up, even when it was long), but then again, 42+ weeks pregnant doesn't look amazing on anyone that I know of. In the end, I didn't gain nearly as much weight with Ira, but I found myself not disliking my long hair, and so I kept it around until I got the urge to cut it. Once I got that familiar, unshakable NEED to chop it off, it was only a matter of deciding on a style.

I have a special relationship with my hair. In fact, when I had to do a project in college that illustrated an homage to something, I chose to focus on my chameleon-like relationship with hair (not my best work, but you get the idea). I started cutting it when I was 13, and I got my first dye-job at the same time. I don't understand how intensely people are attached to their hair - I see it as something that is regenerative by nature.

I don't hate my natural hair, but it's just kind of... average. Avearage brown color. Neither curly nor straight. It just doesn't send any messages, in my opinions, and like tattoos, I think hair sends a message about you. To me, my hair is a blank canvas. Tattoos are mostly permanent, and people often take tattoos much more lightly than their hair, in my opinion.

One of the more heated discussions I've had with my best friend is over women's hair, of all things. She was not excited about the prospect of me dreading my hair, and we had a long discussion about why I make the cosmetic choices that I do, and why I don't make my husband's opinion of my hair a main factor in how I style it.

I respect the notion of wanting to please your significant other through your appearance, but I'm so offended and sad when I hear women say, "my husband/father would kill me if I cut my hair". You wouldn't believe (or maybe you would) how often I hear that phrase, and it sits wrong with me every time. I don't understand why hair holds this power over our relationships that other parts of our appearance don't. I've never heard a woman say, "my husband would kill me if I got a boob job" or "my husband would kill me if I pierced my nose".

To be sure, there is such a thing as preference, for both men and women. Some women prefer beards on their men, others prefer a clean shave. Some couples might have specific-to-them preferences that they've agreed on, but the long-hair-for-ladies seems across the board and so emphatic, in many cases. I wouldn't be as troubled by it if it was just that most women want long hair (as many do), but I've heard my fair share of ladies express an interest in trying a different (shorter?!) style, but don't because of a man in their life. Although their language when expressing their reasons for not cutting their hair is surely exaggerated in most cases, many do use adjectives associated with violence when they talk about men's reactions to them cutting their hair.{image}

One of many reasons that I change my hair often and sometimes drastically is that it makes me feel beautiful, and gives me a boost of confidence every time I change it. I don't "do" anything to my hair on a regular basis - I don't straighten it, I don't curl it, I don't blow dry it, I rarely use product, and I don't even brush it very often. I don't like to spend my time on my appearance, and so I want my hair to look decent when I roll out of bed, plus 30 seconds of attention, if need be. Therefore, I cut it often to keep it in good shape. I don't necessarily have poor self esteem if I don't cut my hair, but cutting it is my version of taking care of it, and that makes me feel like I'm taking care of my appearance, which my husband appreciates.

I believe a confident and happy woman is the most beautiful woman, and that's why I do what I want with my hair rather than what my husband prefers (my natural color). I do other things with my appearance that are for him, but I let him know from the very beginning of our relationship that my hairstyle was my choice. This was my inspiration for my latest cut (though it's obnoxious to wear it styled as shown, you can't see anything). It's very "now", for sure, but Jonas said it is his favorite of all the hairstyles I've ever had!

Another reason that I like to cut my hair is that I like it when people notice, in large part because many people have preconceived ideas about what people with crazy hair (or facial piercings, or fill-in-the-blank-appearance-modification) are like, and I heartily enjoy challenging that. One of my favorite things about having had the bridge of my nose pierced was when people would be surprised at how friendly I was, instead of being a punk-ass, or whatever they thought I was going to be. Even better, I had so many people comment on it and strike up a conversation who I don't think would have talked to me at all, otherwise. I spend a lot of time and energy challenging people about what they think is true, not out of spite, but because that's how change occurs - we change our minds much more readily when we meet someone or experience something that doesn't fit what we previously held to be true, rather than arguing with people we disagree with.

At least half of my favorite women in life have short hair. When I see a grown young or middle aged women with short hair, I think of her as bold, confident, strong, and creative. Those are all things I want to be. When I cut my hair recently after having it long for a relatively long time, my friend Kenna said, "good! Long hair is too boring for you." And that is how I feel - when I have long hair, I feel like I'm hiding my personality. {image}

Most older women have short hair, if you hadn't noticed. This is because they've come to the realization that it's the best. But in all seriousness, when I see another girl with short hair, I do feel a little bit like we're in a club together, and when I see an elderly lady with short hair, I often think she looks refined, and that she takes care of herself (hair often thins with age, making long hair more difficult to keep looking good).

Many women I know with long hair have very beautiful hair. I don't have anything against long hair on its own. I'm mainly concerned with the culture of beauty ideals that would make a women feel unloved or unattractive with short hair. Of course, if long hair makes a women feel beautiful, she should be free to wear her hair long, just PLEASE don't discourage a women from cutting her hair if long hair is somehow holding her back. Ultimately, I am not defined by my hair, and I don't want women with long hair to be reduced to the length of their hair either.

A woman I know recently buzzed her head. A few days later, she posted a status to Facebook about how a women she looked up to came up to her and commented, "what does your husband have to be proud of in you with your haircut?" I was AGHAST! First of all, who in their right mind says something like that to a women, and secondly, how dare someone place the worth of a women in her hair? I was infuriated by that story.

Nothing that mean has ever been said to me about my short hair, but sometimes, if I haven't seen someone in a while and my hair has grown a little, I will hear people say, "Wow, your hair has grown, you look so beautiful!" I spend a second about to be flattered, but then I'm just irritated. This is not a one time occurrence for me. I do try and appreciate that people are trying to pay me a compliment, but I think it's messed up that you're praised with long hair, and shamed with short hair. If you want to pay a compliment to a woman, be more specific. Try something like, "that cut really flatters your face" or "that color really makes your eyes stand out", rather than sending a message that beauty has one specific definition.

And while I'm at it, how do you think women going through chemo feel when our culture idolizes long hair? I don't know the story of the woman in this image, though I assume she shaved her head for the sake of fashion, but I've always thought she looked so stylish. Sometimes when I see a women with a haircut I don't prefer, I try and imagine her with more conventional hair and see if I think it would make her more attractive. But then I stop myself, because that is not my call, or anyone else's but hers. I'll say it again for good measure: a confident women is a beautiful women. Confidence takes many, many shapes.

For good measure, here is a list of reasons I don't care for having long hair, myself. I'm sure I missed a few...
  1. That bump a hair tie leaves when you release a pony tail
  2. Finding long hair everywhere around the house
  3. It's too hot in the summer
  4. It's heavy and causes me neck pain if I tie it up
  5. Children pull on it
  6. I have a lot more bad hair days with long hair
  7. It's always in my face
  8. It feels dirty more quickly
  9. It gets caught or dipped in stuff
  10. It becomes damaged much more quickly if you don't trim it often or dye or otherwise treat it in any way (short hair is fresh and healthy every time you change it, because all the previous dye or damage has been cut off)
Wanna be part of the Short Haired Girls Club? I know you do. I even made us a hipster logo. I know it looks a little...militant...but, given my strong feelings on this, and the language about killing over hair, I find it appropriate (the only other cutting device available for the design was an ax, sorry). Now go forth and proselytizing all to boldness!

Phew! It's been a while since I've climbed up on my soapbox. I know you missed me!


  1. I can not staaaaand when women base their image choices solely on their husbands' opinions. Sometimes I KNOW Zach isn't crazy about something I wear (I can see a little smirk curling up on the sides of his mouth when I come down ready to go), but if I like it then I wear it, darn it! He's constantly changing up his hair and beard, and I'm pretty vocal about when I don't like it a certain way, but he's gonna do what he's gonna do. I love that he respects me in the same way.
    A close friend of mine got a really fun, short haircut and grew it out almost immediately. She said her husband didn't like it. It just made me mad, but I didn't push it.
    Zach says he just likes when I take care of myself and project confidence. That's why I married this guy.
    I'll add - if it's a date night or his birthday or something, I'll definitely make an effort to dress for him, because I love him, and that's part of making special times special. But I just don't think that applies to everyday life.
    I'm actually digging my long hair right now, but with a few grays sprouting I'll need to start dying soon, and I've been thiiiiiinking about trying out some color. We shall see. ;)
    (Oh! That's another one. Zach doesn't want me to dye my grays - his mom didn't. But I told him I'm going to. So, tough.)

    1. bahaaa, YES. Jonas and I have that same thing with one another's style. he's not a big fan of jumpsuits, which I continue to buy hoards of (ok, like 5). i think i successfully got him to stop wearing this awful hat the other day, but now I feel kind of bad because he said I was rude about it. I tried not to be - I'm glad I can tell him what I think!

      I try and dress up for him on special dates too. <3

      I can't decide whether I'm going to dye greys or not. I want to go silver SO bad, but most people just go salt & pepper, and I probably would dye that. I already have grey hairs too, didn't expect them this early! Kids, man. ;)


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