All of my life, I’ve been looked at as “one of the guys.” That’s actually something I’m grateful for; I wave my tomboy flag with pride. However, not being stereotypically feminine comes with its own set of complications. I don’t know how to wear makeup, shopping for anything other than food feels like an activity spawned from the devil, and I’ve been assumed to be a lesbian once or thrice. Still, I never really let any of that get to me because I had a huge security blanket that made me feel like I could do and wear what I wanted: my hair. That all changed when I decided to trade my long luscious locks for a short and edgy tapered cut.
Cutting off 17 inches of hair meant life for me was about to change drastically. When I had long hair, I was able to get away with wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt. Pair that outfit with my new haircut, and I’m easily mistaken for a teenage boy. To make my hair work for me, I decided to change my entire wardrobe. I started to wear heels and even bought my own makeup. I spent 30 minutes in Walgreens trying to figure out whether what I was buying was for my eyes, lips, or eyebrows. It was all too exhausting and I felt like I was failing at being a “girl”. I found myself feeling less confident and exposed without hair to hide behind. I’d always had long hair and as a black girl having long hair that was naturally mine was a huge point of pride. To put it bluntly, I felt unattractive without it.
I’ve been looked at as “one of the guys” all my life, but this was the first time it negatively affected me. Honestly, it still does on occasion. But I recently read something my mom said to me post-chop that always kicks me out of my funks.
You never cease to amaze me! A million girls would kill for your hair, yet you understand it’s just an accessory. One that doesn’t define or contain you. YOUR beauty comes from within! I love you and I’m proud of you.
I think a lot of the time, we as women hold so much of who we are and associate being a woman with our hair. It’s important, and can be freeing to remember that it’s just hair. It’s dead skin cells. Sometimes it’s downright disgusting.
Some say I was having a Britney Spears circa 2007 moment, but truthfully, I don’t care that so many people were attached to my hair. I did what was best for me. A woman cutting off her hair does not signify a mental breakdown. In my case and many others, it’s just an expression of control of my own life. Hair, clothing, and hobbies are not signs of femininity and don’t necessarily define a woman.
I make an effort to never sacrifice what makes me who I am to try to fit society’s narrow idea of womanhood and femininity, and it’s a philosophy I highly recommend. What’s often hard to grasp is that being a woman is more complex than exhibit A and exhibit B. We can define what it means for ourselves. I love science, action movies, violent sports, and wearing sundresses. I don’t believe I’ll ever truly understand the sorcery that is makeup. Most of all, I’m confident, genuine, and brave. I’ll continue to wave my “tomboy” flag with pride and with all that said and I think that is what makes me the woman I am today.