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