19 June 2013

It's Time To Have A Talk About Women Who Have Short Hair

Swinton. Of course.
This topic is much on my mind because I have a salon appointment today, and I know I'm going to tell the stylist to get the clippers. I, unfortunately, often leave the salon unsatisfied with my 'do, so I spent yesterday scrolling through hundreds of images yielded by Google searches.

Despite photographic images that prove, in my mind, at least, that I am more attractive with more hair, I can't and won't do it anymore. A bunch of hair on my head feels weird to me. I don't like wearing my hair "out." I feel as if it's always in need of securing via twisting or braiding, and I just don't have the stamina and creativity for the full-time job that is a black woman's hair. (Also, depressingly, the texture of my hair is actually fine.)

Even writing that I lack the motivation and energy to face down the decades-long career that is managing black girl hair is cause for shame. That I would give up the sacred struggle! That I would opt for ease: of exercising, sleeping, showering, styling. It's proof that I am not only a failure, but also a traitor, a deserter of the black women's hair cause, the struggle.

Being, existing, as a woman with short hair is rather emotionally taxing. Other people treat you differently; you at times doubt yourself for looking different from other women. There are entire aspects of culture (like some dances, for example) constructed around the normativity of women having long/gobs of hair to face down. 

What's the big goddamn deal with a woman having short hair? Why was I forbidden to cut my hair growing up? Why does my mother think to this day that I'll never get married (god forbid!!) if I don't let my hair grow? Why are there guys who feel free to tell me (unsolicited, of course) that I would be pretty if or that I "need to" let me hair grow?

Obviously, this is sexism. Long/gobs of hair is not a universal good. Just like dresses aren't.

This morning I was texting a short-haired female comrade, quizzing her about her methods. It turns out that her visual inspirations for her hairstyles are male models.

Last month I was telling someone that I had reached the conclusion that if a guy ever asked me for haircut advice, I would tell him that he should find a Bowie style that works for him. (Duh.) As I've been writing this post, I realize that's advice that, as Swinton illustrates above, applies to women as well.

The photo above and my own experience make me realize this is bigger than hair. I've long lamented the fact that shoe stores carrying both men's and women's styles feature sneakers and oxfords for men, but, usually, mostly ridiculous heels for women. Like women don't want to wear oxfords or cool sneakers? Like women, who are most likely to need to flee assault, don't want shoes that allow them to be fleet-footed? And I don't want to get started about men's cologne...

Also this morning I was thinking that sometimes it seems as if ways of being that are comfortable or less troublesome get coded "masculine," when they're actually simply comfortable and less troublesome.

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