I’ve been mildly conservative with my hair for most of my twenties. I had righteous fun hair when I was a teenager, rocking spikes and pixie cuts and every candy colour that Fudge had to offer. Then I started to grow my hair out and slowly but surely became more and more conservative. It got longer and longer, and I grew more and more cautious in regards to how I styled it.
Some of that conservatism was because of the effort and time needed to grow my hair out from an inch long to the small of my back meant that I was inclined to treat it like a precious, time-intensive resource. Most of that conservatism, however, came from other people’s reactions to my hair. My hair had always been ‘wild’ or ‘punky’, never ‘pretty’ or ‘feminine’. For the first time in my adult life I had magazine-worthy Pretty Hair, and people treated me as such.
I guess at some point I bought into the Myth of Hair. Hair as a precious womanly resource. Hair as a crowning glory. Hair that must be kept shiny and luscious and have bounce worthy of a Victoria’s Secret model. Hair where shoulder length was considered daringly short, and hair that fell into the magazine standard blonde-dark blonde-chestnut trifecta. Black and coppery red hair don’t exist in magazine world, let alone the neons and candy pinks of my teenage years.
Me, personally speaking: I got boring. I lost perspective on who I am.
Then 2012 happened. It’s been a shit of a year, honestly. A bunch of stuff has happened and it gave me some perspective on a whole lot of things, including my appearance and how I let myself get pushed around by other people’s expectations and attitudes. Great, right? One of the ways I’ve seized control of my life has been through my hair. My long, bouncy, shiny, chestnut red hair. 2012 has been the year that I’ve ignored what other people expect from my hair, and turned it around into what I want from my hair.
A few months ago I decided to shave the back of my head. I went to a divey little salon, the kind with a linoleum and combs lurking in jars of Barbicide, and asked the barber to shear off all my hair from ear to ear and all the way down my nape. I loved it. I still love it, to the point that last week I had more hair clippered back from my temples into a homage of a men’s regulation cut.
Do people like it? Probably not. My partner couldn’t hide his disappointment that even more has been clippered off, and that’s ok. It’s perfectly ok for him to love long hair. Random strangers comment on it, with remarks that vary from the positive (“That looks amazing!”) or the naive (“Oh, I could never do that. You’re so brave.”) or the nasty (“You look like a freak.”). It’s hair as a mark of femininity within a very standard Cosmo-approved style set, and hair as something that the public can pass value on.
No matter how it’s styled, it’s just hair.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s just hair, Myth of Hair or not. A woman’s value is not based around her hair, no matter how it is styled. My value isn’t based around my hair, be it the pretty chestnut hair advertisement waves I had or my current bitchin’ rad Khaleesi-white shaved ‘do.
No matter how you style your hair, how long you keep it, whether you have curls or dreads or poker straight locks, whether it’s pink or black or grey: it’s your hair, and you should do what you want to do with it.
I seized control of my appearance this year. I stopped worrying about what other people thought of my hair, and acted on what I want from my hair. I figure I should do what makes me happy, even it’s something wonderfully out of the ordinary. After all, it’s just hair!