When I was pregnant with Miles, I cut my hair off. I got a bob. I cut bangs at the same time. I thought I looked sexy and more mature. Women commented on my my new hair. All the time. That never happened with my long hair. When I came home with my new do, my husband called me Natasha, like I was a Russian spy. That’s what we call bad ass Russian ladies. In my head I pictured some hot Russian spy and Alias and thought that must be sexy. I missed my hair and now this chick in the picture, well that’s what I missed doing. You know, even though my hair will never look that good. Still, I was convinced Natasha was my new look.
It took me more than a year to realize that my husband preferred my hair long. It took me even longer to notice that only women commented on my sassy bob hair. There were a few gay men who thought it was a good look too. Just not heterosexual dudes, like my husband. Like the kind I, you know, have feelings for.
I know why I cut it. I have always had a young face and I thought that an edgier look would make me look older, more intelligent, more all powerful woman and such. I thought I would be all hip. I look more cute than beautiful day in and day out and I thought my haircut would help me bring it. This probably means that somewhere I was assigning some sort of extra awesome badge to chicks with an edgy do.
What took me the longest to realize after my chop?
That I like long hair. And that I can be a powerful self-confident woman and still have long locks. That wanting my husband to think I am hot is more than okay. I am not ashamed to say that I feel sexiest when my husband thinks I am. I like my long hair. I like being able to pull my hair up into a bun or let it fall down my back. I love the pixie look and I think chicks with short cuts are rocking a hot look, but I feel the least like a little girl when my hair is long.
So I said screw it and stopped cutting my bangs. I got a trim and not a cut. I let my hair grow. I am glad.
Guess what? I am starting to look girly. Well, cute and girly since I don’t wear make-up or anything other than jeans. Guess what else? I am super glad and I care that my husband likes it but I am still a feminist. I still think us ladies pretty much rock and that we can do anything. I can embrace a feminine look and even attempt (and fail at) sexy and remain an intelligent adult. No man or woman should judge my intelligence or abilities based on my looks. Particularly looking “womanly” as if that in itself indicates something inferior. It is wrong. It needs to stop. It is not the message I want to send to my daughters.
I realize now, as I am typing this, that this is about more than my hair. It’s about yours too, and any other style choices you make.
Women are judged very harshly by the way they look. I don’t even know how we are supposed to look when there is something wrong with everything. Too girly, too manly, too funky, too made up…the list goes on.
As women, we have the right to be taken seriously no matter how feminine or non feminine we choose to be. No matter how we cut our hair or what accessories we wear or what fashion we choose. We can have long or short hair, conservative or flamboyant style, make-up or none. Being girly and even sexy or anything more than boring is not the equivalent of being incompetent. A girl with a ponytail can run a company or be an astronaut or be a political leader. So can one with a boob job or very long nails. I always hear comments on women who are very done up that imply she is an idiot only focused on finding a man or money. How ludicrous. I hear the same sorts of nasty comments about girls with tattoos or a very funky look and those are insane too.
I wrote about my concerns with Sophia wanting to be a princess at such a young age more than a year ago. Luckily, she has not mentioned her weight in some months and seems overjoyed that her hair is finally growing. She, like so many girls, wants long hair and long gowns. She wants to look beautiful. Nowadays, she is less obsessed than she was a year ago with any specific definition of beauty and she does not talk about being “fat”, a word we don’t use in our house. We are relieved. And I totally get why she wants long hair. It is super fun. In addition to being a princess, she also wants to be “everything except a robber”. She wants to be an artist, a builder, a teacher, an astronaut, a soccer player…she can be anything and still be a girl. She doesn’t think looking super girly will stop her, and she should be right. We shall grow our hair together.
While I agree that the images of beauty we see day in and day out are unachievable for the most part and unhealthy for our children in terms of body image, I do not think the issue is with being allowed to be a girly girl if you want. I do not think that she is being influenced to be girly by some all powerful marketing giant. I will not focus on her love of glamor like it is some sort of sin. It is just plain fun. I think she likes long hair and nail polish and sparkles because they are cool. My little guy likes them too. They are not pretending to be grown ups. They just like how it looks.
As long as my kids know that everybody has their own style and that it doesn’t determine their worth, we are okay. This is about more than girl power. This is just simple don’t judge a book by it cover stuff. For girls and boys. Abandon stereotypes. Embrace diversity. Sounds good, right? Now let’s teach it to our kids and re-learn it as grown-ups.
Do you think people generally take a woman more seriously with a certain look? Do you find that you take certain looks more seriously than others or that you assume a woman is more successful because she is in a suit with a neat shoulder length haircut? Or less reliable because she is very made up? The word I hear is ditzy most often. Just wondering, because I can so admit that it is not always easy to withhold judgement and give people a chance. It’s not easy, but it is important.
*Excuse me, I really did start this post to tell you how I thought my new long hair was bringing me closer to sexy. Then I got all fired up. That always seems to happen when I think about women, beauty, expectations and stereotypes.