I Swear/I’m as Free as My Hair

My most sincere thanks to Lady Gaga for the lovely title of this post. If you haven’t heard her acoustic version of “Hair,” please stop reading this and go listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgXDyOBJuss

One of the ways I can track my journey of coming out is by my hair. When I was in first grade, I cut it short. Very short. (Think Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby short.) Short hair fit who I was—a tomboy who came home from school and played outside until her Dad came home to take her to her baseball game. As I progressed through elementary school, it became more common for me to be mistaken for a boy, or asked if I was a boy or a girl, in part because of my hair and in part because of my “boy” clothes. I’ve always been secure in my gender identity, but the question of “boy or girl?” had underlying implications about my sexuality, which I had not come to terms with yet. Eventually, I got sick of the question and decided to grow my hair out.

From the beginning of middle school through my first year of college, I had long hair that I constantly wrestled with. Wearing it down was irritating, so I constantly had in in a bun, ponytail, or braid. I also have an enormous forehead (fivehead, for sure), so I also went back and forth between bangs and no bangs. My hair was always a source of insecurity and discomfort.

 

“I got my bangs to hide
That I don’t stand a chance, a chance”

 

After my freshman year of college, I was inspired by Megan Rapinoe—shocker—and decided to cut it short. I remember agonizing over Pinterest pictures, trying to decide which style would look good with my head and face shape. The decision to cut it was not easy, and I was nervous the entire time leading up to it. Would I still get mistaken for a boy? What if I hated it? What if short hair made me look even uglier than I already felt?

Finally assuming that it couldn’t make my hair situation any worse, I went ahead and took the plunge. It was easily one of the best decisions of my life thus far. I still have the picture I took after that hair cut—it’s a bright summer day, and my cheeks are slightly flushed. The smile on my face reaches my eyes, along with a flicker of relief.

That was almost 5 years ago, and my hair is still a big part of my identity. Maybe it always will be. Short hair gives me a sense of confidence and belonging. I’m lucky to able to look to many different examples of women and nonbinary people who unapologetically rock their short hair. Personally, my hair brings me that much closer to the identity I am still forming – it was the first big step in showing the world who I truly am.

“I’m the spirit of my hair, it’s all the glory that I bare”

 

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