This summer, I decided to cut my hair. Okay, that’s an understatement. This summer, I decided to shave the right side of my head. I think this hairstyle is formally called a “half-shave,” and appropriately so, since half of my hair is completely missing. When I debuted my new do on campus, I got a few different reactions from the women around me.
- “Whoa, I love it! What made you want to do that?”
Boredom? But really, there was no momentous occurrence that spurred my decision. My hair was at that annoying length that’s too short to be long and too long to be short, and it kept doing this weird flip-y thing that made me look like a Jackie Kennedy wannabe. So one night I decided it was time for a change, and the next day half my hair was gone.
- “You’re so brave!”
…Am I? I don’t recall running into a burning building or fighting a revolution or doing anything remotely courageous, but thanks!
- “I could never do that…”
Uhm. Pretty sure you could. It’s probably the cheapest and fastest haircut you’ll ever get. And showering will thereafter cease to be such a nuisance.
- “Wow! How do you feel?!”
I feel hungry and tired like always because this is college. Otherwise, I feel the same as I felt when I had more hair.
These “compliments,” which were intended to laud me, only serve as proof of our constricted definition of femininity. Both men and women are upholding extremely arbitrary standards related to gender.
Does short hair, less hair, or no hair translate to less feminine? Is my identity as a female intrinsically tied to the length of my locks?
I have heard numerous women make statements like, “I love my long hair and would never cut it,” and I’d like to ask why. To be clear, this is a question coming from someone who thinks long hair is very beautiful, on both men and women. What I’m curious to discover, though, is why some women are aghast at the idea of cutting their hair short. I mean… it’s hair. It’ll grow back.
Also, how insulting to equate long hair with femininity when female cancer patients are undergoing chemotherapy and losing all their hair. Evident here is a danger in attaching one’s identity to tangible things. When those things are gone, what are we left with?
Another hairy dilemma (ha ha) arises with the question of why women feel some parts of their body must have absolutely no hair. I haven’t shaved my legs in two years. Yup, you heard me. It’s been two full years since the last time I put a razor to my legs. Once again, it has nothing to do with being brave and everything to do with the fact that I am the laziest person you’ll ever meet. Shaving simply takes too much time and effort!
Women, the length of your hair—whether it’s short, long, or Jackie Kennedy-esque, whether it’s on your legs, your arms, or your armpits—is no indicator of your femininity. You are a woman because you were born a woman, because you have two X chromosomes and no Y. When you decide to rock a short do or stop shaving your legs, you’re not being unfeminine and you’re not being particularly brave either. You’re simply rocking a short do and/or rocking hairy legs, something lots of guys do every day. It’s your body, your hair. Don’t worry about where your fashion or hair choices fall on the femininity-masculinity grid, because the aforementioned grid does not exist.
Living up to our respective genders is a fool’s errand anyway, so let’s not waste our time. Gender equality will finally be a thing once men stop trying to act “manly,” women stop trying to act “womanly,” and instead, all of us start trying to act humanly.
Starting a conversation with a total stranger, kissing someone for the first time, holding a friend in their moment of grief; these are acts of courage and compassion worthy of praise. These acts are what it means to be a human, regardless of gender.