Don’t Judge a Girl on Her Looks {Unless you want to tell me you like my hair and it makes me look smart}

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.

Long Brown Hair

Image: Marie Claire Hairstyle How-To’s

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. 

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • angela says:

    Sigh. I wrote a post today about princess paranoia and my daughter (she’s being Cinderella for Halloween.) I struggle with these issues so much. I don’t want her to be defined by her outsides or obsessed with looks and “prettiness,” but I want her to grow up owning that part of her and loving it and cultivating it. My mom downplayed the outside so much that I’ve always had self-image issues 🙁 (I’m not blaming her, but I do think it has something to do with it all.)

    The thing I related to the most in this, though, is that NOTHING is “right”. I am not comfortable dressing in super casual clothes (like yoga pants,) but I feel like it’s almost a badge of honor amongst moms, especially moms that stay home. I am not what anyone would consider fashionable by any means, but I’ve had people say things like, “Oh I NEVER have time to put on make-up like you do.” or “I could NEVER play with my kids in those shoes.”

    • Brittany says:

      The princess stuff is so hard but I think, like you, that the problem is not in wanting to look pretty. That is normal for almost everyone. The problem is in judging people who have a different look or size than you. With the princess dreams, I have started to talk to Sophia about real princesses and how they treat people, how they do good in the world and how their inner beauty is more important than their outer beauty. I have also started to venture into the topic of style as she asked why princesses always look a certain way. I tell her that the world has high visual expectations and rules for princesses and that there is a huge downside to being in the public eye so much. We also say that there are places where there is a certain level of formality expected. We relate it to how there are rules for dress at sports or school or for the seasons but say that personal style is the best thing in the world. It is a part of you and is one of the most wonderful things out there…that we all have it and we can all be different. A real princess celebrates diversity.

      And as for your look, well I am just plain jealous that you can play with kids in kick ass shoes. I would just be on mine if I wore anything but flats. *sigh* I wish I was more stylish some days.

  • Wow. I loved reading this post. It was like your thoughts just spilled out.

    My favorite part? >>> 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.

    As Women, we spend WAY too much time judging others and also judging ourselves. What is wrong with getting a boob job? What is wrong with wanting short hair? Or tattoos? Or no kids? Or lots of kids? Or LONG hair?

    Do I think people genuinely take a woman more seriously with a certain look?

    Yes. But this NEEDS to end.

    P.S. I have long hair too now (And had a VERY short bob 11 years ago for my wedding…)
    Kate F. ( recently posted… Mastering the Theory of Cause and EffectMy Profile

  • I like this evolved from how you feel about your hair to how women are generally always first perceived based on how they look.

    It’s a sad truth, but women are always judged on looks first. Always. Even when I was pregnant, I had remarks like, “Wow, you’re …. big.” – not, you look healthy and happy. When I was still working (in a sports company where casual wear was office wear), I would wear dresses, smart pants with my high heels and I would get asked if I “was going anywhere special.”, like a girl can’t just get dressed up because she wanted to? Why not ask me how my meeting went, or how my project is going? Instead of daily commentary on what I was wearing or not.

    I know I am probably silently guilty of the same thing sometimes, particularly when I see women dressed what I think to be inappropriate for the time of day or place they’re at. It’s going to be a long, hard road before stereotypes can be completely eradicated, if at all.
    Alison recently posted… London, 1998My Profile

  • liz says:

    I find that the older a woman gets, the shorter her hair gets.

    I don’t look good with longer hair AND I’m lazy, so I always kept it tied back. Craig preferred my long, low ponytail. But I finally chopped it a couple years ago.
    liz recently posted… Show Me the Blog, Baby!My Profile

  • Jo says:

    very well said. I do have one problem though… if you dont like dressing in floral dresses with pink nails, fine, but to some degree women SHOULD be feminine. That’s how we were born. If God had intended women to act like men (something very antifeminist, btw) He’d have given us the parts to match the personality.

    I also think short hair is actually sometimes girlier, because the more feminine you look, the less you need long hair, and for some reason pixie cuts and cute bobs (like mine, if I may brag a bit) just LOOK girlier, donno why. Maybe because they remind me of some of the girlier girls of all time, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly?

    I was so glad to read this though, especially how you ARENT horrified about your daughter being a girl and loving princesses. we need more of you!

    • Brittany says:

      Oh I think all looks are fine and can be feminine and gorgeous. I love to see all the differences in us as women and celebrate the fact that we can and should be able to be who we are.

  • RJ says:

    Brittany, I go ga ga over a long-haired women myself, but what you have written is not really about hair. It is a wonderful vignette of love. God bless.

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