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This post was written as a contribution to the Boys Have Long Hair, Too Blog Carnival.  The participating bloggers are sharing their experiences, struggles, and opinions surrounding having a son who has long hair.
There isn’t a day that goes by where someone doesn’t comment on A’s hair. I get it. They are golden ringlets that bounce when he runs and truly shimmer in the sunshine. I know some people just can’t help but tell us how beautiful his hair is. I don’t mind – people spend so much energy feeling all knotted up about their appearance, I love being able to see people celebrating this naturally beautiful boy.
I am not so ok with the people who like to ask A when he is going to cut his hair. I bristle when people ask him if he knows that he looks like a girl.
Why does hair define our gender? Why is it one more thing in an exhusting list of socially constructed physical elements that lock us into a gender, into a sex, into a defined sense of socially acceptable beauty.
It is a funny thing: hair and gender. Hair and power. Hair and beauty. There are still a number of societies on our planet where long hair on men is attributed to power, such as Sikh and some indigenous communities. Historically, it was the most powerful males who wore their hair long – often adorned and perfumed. For centures, only servants in many parts of Europe would cut their tresses. Many People of Colour attribute the cutting of hair with the history of slavery, and accounts of the Holocaust speak about the horrific shearing of jewish hair. Throughout human history, hair styles on males and females, whether long or short have been layered with meaning and cultural significance. Contemporary culture is telling me that by allowing my son to keep his long locks, I am inviting some kind of gender confusion. I don’t buy it.
People ask constantly when we are going to cut his hair. This hair that when wet reaches half-way down his back. Folks seem annoyed with us when we suggest that his hair will be cut when and if he ever feels like it. We have cut his bangs, twice at the salon, but usually by my stellar hair styling skills. Once, last year, he asked me to cut some of his curls, something which he never wanted repeated again.
We have asked him, in passing moments of us heading to the salon, if he wants a cut and he always says “no thanks”. So, no thanks it is.
It is incredibly important to me that I listen to A when he makes a decision about his body – and yes, that includes his hair. I have spoken before about body autonomy, and I can’t stress the importance of this concept enough, especially when thinking about it from the perspective of a preschooler (or newborn, toddler, kiddo, teen, etc). As a survivor of sexual assualt, there is almost nothing that is more important to me than A knowing that his body is truly his, and only he can make decisions about what happens to his body – and that includes hair cuts. Since he was newborn, I have considered this sacred idea of body autonomy. I always talked to him about what was happening when I would change him, and now I ask him if I can help him use the toilet, wash him, snuggle him or tickle him. I have never pressured him to kiss or hug relatives/friends goodbye and I have never let anyone put their hands on his body.
My thoughts are simple: if I teach him to honour and hold sacred his body, he will transfer this into adulthood. He will be more open to recognizing body rights of other people while making him more confident to assert his own rights to privacy and autonomy.
I suppose that listening to A’s voice in regards to his hair style is just one more check mark in the ‘gentle parent’ philosophy that I hold so dear, but, really….it is just about letting this kid be himself. And, heck – why would I want to cut these locks of gold from his beautiful head?
Be sure to visit the other blogs in this fun little blog carnival. A big thanks to Crayon Freckles for putting this carnival together!
*just to be clear: I am commenting on our own view of hair cuts on boys, and we make zero judgement of parents who do cut their children’s tresses. Like most parenting decisions, I make this one from instinct, and would never question another parents gut feelings about personal care.
We’d love it if you stopped by to read submissions by the other amazing carnival bloggers

My Happy Hippie Boy – Andie from Crayon Freckles shares why she and her husband have chosen to let their 3.5 yr old son’s hair go uncut. 

Boys Have Long Hair, Too: A Father’s View — Alex from Glittering Muffins says it happens that not only does his son, Nico have long hair, he as the father has no problem with it either. He personally does not find that long hair emasculates a boy (or adult alike)…

Boys Have Long Hair, Too: A Maman’s View — Valerie from Glittering Muffins son has been called a cute little girl for about a year and a half (he’s 2.5 yo). So she corrects people and tells them he’s a boy and loves his long hair (Once in a while she even throws in a “he also loves to watch Strawberry Shortcake”). 

Boys Have Long Hair, Too –The Monko from Taming the Goblin explains why she likes it when her son is mistaken for a girl and asks the question “Do mums of girls feel this guilty when their child doesn’t like having their long hair brushed?”

Sampson — Kellie from Our Mindful Life reflects on how long hair gives her son power.

Trials and Tribulations of a Boy with Tresses — Carolyn from Mama’s Little Muse talks about her experience in raising a boy with hair too beautiful to cut short. It is about how people have reacted; how she has created keepsakes featuring his hair; and also how they have arrived at a game that they play so that the hair brushing experience goes more smoothly.

His Hair, His Decision — Lyndsay from Our Feminist {Play}School asks the question “why shouldn’t a boy have long hair?”. Her ‘answers’ are historical, personal and family-specific.

Boys Have Long Hair, Too — Sarah from This is Me…Sarah Mum of 3 is mum to 3 children a boy aged 10, girl aged 8 and a boy aged 5, Always loving the longer hair styles for boys her two boys have had many different hair styles over the years but always seem to resort back to the longer locks even against the negative comments they sometimes recieve.

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10 Responses to His Hair, His Decision.

  1. Kellie says:

    I love that you look at this from the perspective of history and which males have long hair! It is so true that it is all cultural, and that cultures change. I would personally love to see our culture become even more open to little boys with long hair.
    Kellie recently posted..SampsonMy Profile

  2. Liz Hallberg says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. I am enjoying going through all of the posts in the blog carnival. As a mom to a 3 year old boy who has never had a haircut, I am so tired of being made to feel as though I need to defend his right to decide when to cut his hair, or discuss why we haven’t cut it, or explain that in fact, yes, he does know he is a boy because (forgive my brutal honesty) he knows his body parts and he knows those are boy parts and that his hair has nothing to do with his “boyhood”. So nice to hear the voices of other Mommy’s sharing similar scenarios. Thanks for sharing all that you did. I agree it is so important for our children to know that their body, including their hair, belongs to THEM :)
    Liz Hallberg recently posted..Clubhouse Paint: Cotton Balls RequiredMy Profile

  3. Heck YES! It is his body! Hooray for you in letting him make choices regarding his hair! As I commented on Our Mindful Life’s post I was dragged against my will to the hairdressers when I was little. It still pisses me off to this day. What my mom taught me through those experiences cut way deeper than the physical! Glad to be part of this Carnival with you!
    Carolyn @ Mama’s Little Muse recently posted..Trials and Tribulations of a Boy with TressesMy Profile

  4. Gina says:

    I am loving the idea behind this blog carnival…I feel there are so many ridiculous “rules” out there -unspoken or not- for the kiddos that tries to crush their individuality. When I was a teacher, my heart broke for the little boys that got teased for writing poetry or playing with the girls. I always tried to focus on celebrating differences in the classroom, instead of letting our differences drive ridicule from others. I have a little boy that is not restricted in the type of toys that he wants or the activities that he plays. If he wants a baby doll, we get him a baby doll. He loves helping me bake in the kitchen and when it’s time for him to take up a hobby, whether it be baseball, ballet, or chess – I’ll always be there to support him. What an amazing Mama you are for teaching your son such confidence and showing him how to keep an open mind about others through modeling it yourself! :)
    Gina recently posted..Day 48: Sesame Street Matching Game (with 20+ bonus ideas!)My Profile

  5. The Monko says:

    What a great post, it is so informative and well thought out. Its interesting that so many people ask when you will cut your sons hair. No one has actually ever asked me that (Goblin’s Nanny asked Hublet once). Its great that you ask him what he wants and listen to his choice.

  6. sarahmumof3 says:

    Great post I love your boys curls :)
    sarahmumof3 recently posted..Japanese Best Friend DollsMy Profile

  7. [...] His Hair, His Decision — Lyndsay from Our Feminist {Play}School asks the question “why shouldn’t a boy have long hair?”. Her ‘answers’ are historical, personal and family-specific. [...]

  8. [...] His Hair, His Decision — Lyndsay from Our Feminist {Play}School asks the question “why shouldn’t a boy have long hair?”. Her ‘answers’ are historical, personal and family-specific. [...]

  9. [...] His Hair, His Decision — Lyndsay from Our Feminist {Play}School asks the question “why shouldn’t a boy have long hair?”. Her ‘answers’ are historical, personal and family-specific. [...]

  10. What a powerful post! I completely agree with you that we need to teach children from an early age to value their bodies. It’s one of the big reasons I didn’t pierce my daughter’s ears as a baby or now even though I got a lot of pressure from some to do so. I couldn’t physically alter her body without her permission. I don’t really care if other parents do it, but it’s not how I want to raise my daughter. I want her to make the big decisions about her body, and it may sound silly but I consider ear piercing a big decision.
    Rebekah @ The Golden Gleam recently posted..Joy in Minutes #18My Profile

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