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Unintentional Feminist Hair

Is cutting your hair still considered a feminist act?

For me, having short hair is generally not a feminist statement.  I can honestly say I’ve never gone to the salon to demonstrate my political feminist agenda by requesting short hair.  No stylist has ever batted an eye at my various haircut requests and within my matriarchal family, shorter hair has long been the norm so there have been no familial outcry’s or rebellion via hair cutting.  Genetics has merely blessed me with thin, fine hair and…well… I can’t do much with it.  As a result I’ve had short hair for 99% of my adult life. I can remember two times in the past 15 years I’ve actually tried to grow it out and both times ended in an incredibly cathartic trip to the salon ending in short hair and solemn promises to never do that to myself again.

This past weekend, I made a particularly bold hair choice and went with the shaved/undercut/mohawk ala Miley Cyrus (say what you will, she has fantastic hair) and many others anonymous ladies on the Proper Pixies Tumblr. I’ve flirted with this cut for the past three months with a not quite shaven bottom and a discreet and ladylike blending of the longer hair on top to the super short sides.  That cut was a very professional take on the above mentioned hair style.  But this weekend, I took the plunge.

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The back/side view

I’ll admit that even when I showed the young lady the picture of the desired hair, I didn’t think I would actually end up with this cut.  Rarely does my hair end up looking like the picture I present no matter who cuts my hair.  I rely on the expertise of the stylist & whatever I end up with usually makes me incredibly happy all while recognizing that a stylist does not have a magic wand and cannot make us all look as our heart sometimes desires.  So when I asked for this cut I expected the tamer version I’ve had in the past few months. This time, however, the girl NAILED it.  At first glance, I was kind of dazed and unsure I liked it.  I’m sure I had that wide-eyed ‘oh f*ck’ look about me.  And I got about 10 steps out of the salon, took a bad selfie (never to be shown and promptly deleted from my phone), and decided I LOVED it.

So, what does all this have to do with Feminist Hair?

This haircut….has had me thinking all weekend.  I’ve texted many a friend and family member.  We’ve made jokes about how I can officially pull off a military ‘do.  This cut has caused me to question & challenge my own thoughts, assumptions, and ideas on short hair, identity, and femininity.  While my family has always been supportive of short and unconventional hair, this particular cut is out of many a person’s comfort zone (including my own, at first).   In the past few days since I’ve gotten this cut I think I’ve had more random ‘I LOVE your hair’ comments from strangers than I’ve had in my entire life.  And as those comments have been made I’ve seen that wistful ‘I wish I could do that/pull that hair off/WOW’ look on many faces.  That look reminds me that short hair is not as common as we like to think it is. So in the past few days I’m reminded of the boss I had that scowled at me one day when I came in with a fresh haircut and point blank asked me why I couldn’t have a more womanly hairdo.  During that particular tirade, he told me that in his opinion, all women should have long hair.  I’m reminded that EVERY time I have someone new cut my hair that I’m asked some version of ‘what does your husband say about your hair?!?’  I’m reminded that I have intentionally & quietly asked my stylists to avoid the very kind of haircut I am currently raving over (brash, edgy, non-feminine, etc.).  So again, having short hair for me is generally not a feminist statement.  But maybe it’s time to consider otherwise, or at the very least, that I have unintentional feminist hair.

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February, 2014

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