My hair has been one thing that I have liked about my appearance for basically my entire life. That nearly puts it in a category of its own. At times I have disliked other things about my appearance : that mole on my right cheek, my long nose, my wide hips, my small breasts, my big feet, and on and on. But my hair? Hair’s been good to me. I have very fine, very dark brown hair with reddish tints that come out in summer. And I have almost always worn it long. And I have almost never bothered doing a single thing with it, except for washing and throwing it up in a ponytail. I have had long hair for so long that it seemed to become a part of who I am. Even with a short bob, I still “thought” of myself as a “long-haired person,” as if that is a static identity.
Above : a commemorative gallery of me and my hair over the years.
And now, most of it is gone. Because I went and did a crazy thing : I got a pixie cut.
Why did I do this? (I ask myself, laughing weakly.) I did this for a lot of reasons. I did this because my long, straight hair has been a protection of sorts. A protection from thinking about the parts of my appearance that I don’t as easily love and embrace. A neutrality, the opposite of a statement. I did it because I realized that my hairstyle had become a part of my identity, and I wanted to challenge that, to shake it up a bit. I did it because everyone thinks that I am heterosexual. You, dear reader, probably thought so, too.
I know I’m married to a man, but just as being single does not make someone asexual, neither can my marriage make my straight (and thank God for that). I identify as pansexual — and I’ve linked you right to Wikipedia so you needn’t even Google — although I often use the term bisexual because people know that one, and I much prefer the term queer and use that term in my personal life. And although my short hair isn’t going to magically queer me in society’s eyes, it’s a challenge to me to not hide behind the heterosexual privilege I am afforded when I’m in public with my wedding band on and David beside me. It’s a way to maybe influence a few more people to feel, I guess, a little unsure when they see me. And mostly what it comes down to is me, trying on a new way of showing my identity to the world. It comes down to me forcing myself to really grapple with how I feel about my nose and the mole on my cheek and my “fang” tooth — because I can’t hide behind my hair now that most of it is gone.
People assume confidence of women with short hair — I know I do it. Wow, she must have great self-esteem to rock that look, I think, seeing chic, cool women with their short, punky hair. I wonder if being seen that way now will help grow some real confidence in me.
I felt like if I didn’t cut my hair short now, I might never do it. I don’t think I’m going to prefer pixie-cut life to long-hair life — but now I’ve tried it. Plus, I got the haircut for free by being a model for a hairstylist class at an upscale salon that I never would have set foot in otherwise. And now, I can grow it back. (Gulp. Right?)