“You’ll be giving off the wrong mesage,” my supporting mother warned me as i decided to get the big chop and go from bum-length hair to pixie bob short. I was raised in a somewhat conservative-somewhat liberal hispanic household. Yes, my extended family preferred longer hair saying women’s beauty is exentuated with long hair. When i had my hair chopped off, they didn’t like me spending too much time with them in family environments. They didn’t want to risk associating themselves with a potential “gay”. I am not gay. I checked. I just fall closer to the androgynous line tis all. My mother knew that and the following day she also had her hair cut short like mine. I don’t think we were invited to any family gatherings that following year all because of wanting to be modern and not keeping the hispanic cultura. It’s a thing in many other culturas too.
“You look like a boy,” they say to me far to often when I get my haircuts. I typically grow my hair as long as I can manage; That would usually be when my hair reaches my hips. When i decide to cut it, I never just get a trim. I start all over again and cut it into a pixie cut. I adore short hair. However, it never fails in bringing the public to comment about how it makes me look tomboyish or like a lesbian. My family and close friends assume i am making a statement cutting it so short. My mother tells me to put on makeup with my short hair to make myself appear more feminine. Who defines my femininity and my personal gender/sex preference? me! Not them. Now my hair is close to reaching my bum and i look forward to the day i go back to my pixie cut.
I am planning to shave all my hair off to celebrate graduating high school this year. I have stopped even mentioning it because, no matter the context or group, someone always has to say that short hair is ugly on girls, that I might look too masculine or worst of all: no-one will date you if you look like a guy. These comments will not change my mind, it just annoys me that my hair should only be in a style that will get guys to date me.
I decided recently to cut my hair short and dye it an unusual colour. My dad and grandparents and that side of the family didn’t take any kind of offence to the fact I was bleaching and damaging my hair and dyeing it a crazy colour, but their problem was with the fact that it was short, because it wouldn’t make me look as feminine. I love my short hair, and I frankly do not care about how “feminine” I do or don’t look, and am glad it’s been cut, because it’s sure better for me than long hair.
My experiences with sexism haven’t been very outright. I can’t point to a specific day and say that it changed me. However, I constantly experience feelings from somewhere deep that the way I’ve been taught to live, and the way that the people around me act is anything but equal in regards to gender. As a young girl, I spent the majority of my time trying to be as unfeminine as I could. I thought that my female classmates who played house and aspired to be princesses were inherently less smart. It amazes me that even from as young an age as six, I believed that the traditional expression of femininity denoted weakness and inferiority. In second grade, when I first met the girl that would later become my best friend, I despised her because she was wearing a pink coat. It seems that we are allowed to be viewed as complex individuals when we act like men, but feminine women are seen as unassuming pretty faces. Women are people, no matter what choices they make, and I wish someone had taught me that sooner.