I believe that hair is an important and powerful form of self-expression. It’s a part of our body that allows us to channel our bold, beautiful, and unique spirit. It’s a perfect expression of our culture and ourselves. Lady Gaga even wrote a song about it: “I just wanna be myself/And I want you to know/I am my hair.” It’s a beautiful ballad of acceptance, identity, and self-expression. The shape, style, cut, and color of our hair is sacred and should be embraced and celebrated; but instead, it’s judged and scrutinized by all.
Whether we are femme or butch, we can’t escape the presuppositions that accompany the length, color, and texture of our manes. If our locks are too long, too luscious, straight people assume we’re “too pretty” to be gay. And sometimes, gay women do too. When our hair is too long or too straight, women think that we are too straight.
I remember one night when I was out at Phase 1 with a friend of mine. She left early after being told repeatedly by a masculine of center woman that she couldn’t possibly be gay…perhaps because she was tall, her hair was long, and her appearance echoed that of a feminine “straight” girl. Some of us can shrug it off, but others internalize this type of rejection from our own community.
The professional world is just as critical. I once applied to a job with a rigorous evaluation system. When it came down to the final interview, I cowered and caved in, dying my bright red hair back to black and rounding out my blunt bangs to give them a softer look. I conformed, and for what? I didn’t even get the position.
Although my current job affords me some freedom in terms of my hair and individual expression, the reality is that so many professional fields typecast and stereotype applicants based on their hair. If you ask me, anyone brave enough to rock a gender bending cut in this economy deserves a medal of bravery.
I’ve since learned to love and protect my hair: it’s long, bright pink, and has a little bit of edge to it. It’s not the hair you’d expect from a “professional” with a postgraduate education, but that’s what I love about it. It’s the unexpected.
Recently, I had two friends exchange their long locks for a shorter and edgier look. The transformation is stunning. But they didn’t just stop there. They donated their hair to a children’s group, Wigs for Kids. It’s a new change for a good cause, and they look great.
I’ve always wondered what I would look like with short hair…if my face would change, if my ears would stick out, if my nose would be too prominent. Although I don’t see myself jumping on the short hair bandwagon anytime soon, I love to constantly play around with my hair, and always will.
After all, we are constantly changing, evolving, and taking risks. I’m proud of my friends. They took a chance. They cut their hair at the risk of future jobs, implications and biases. They are fearless. And that is true beauty.