I’m sharing a personal reflection as we end this month. I thought it would be a bold statement in honor of Pride month. It turned out to be a fairly pedestrian reflection on personal style. Comments and sharing are always welcome.
In this post:
Story: My new hair style
When I was younger, I enjoyed wearing my hair long. After graduating college, I felt a need to cut my hair to reflect what a professional male in their early career would look like. As time passed styles changed and I let my hair grow out a bit. I realized the thickness I was so proud of as a teenager was part of my past.
For much of my life I’ve relied on my barber to decide how to cut my hair. Beyond an occasional conversation my hair style has been a repetition of, “the usual.” This has been efficient but not too creative.
I realized, about 10 years ago, that I was not going to have the long, thick, hair of my youth but that I also had no real idea of how men of my age were wearing their hair. I could have done direct research by asking to feel the heads of a random sample of men, but that seemed awkward. I opted to just trust my barber and told her to cut my hair to reflect the current style for men of my age. I walked away from a pile of hair with a buzz cut.
I don’t consider haircuts a part of essential activities requiring me to compromise my health in the middle of a global pandemic. The haircut I received on March 4, 2020, grew out to a shoulder length shag. I was pleasantly surprised to find my hair is not quite as thin as I had thought it was when my barber buzzed it for me almost 10 years ago.
Those of us who have been vaccinated are in a place where it is possible to coexist with the Covid-19 virus. The impact of the pandemic has led me to question why I would want to “go back to the way things were.” The fact is there is no “normal” to go back to. It would seem a shame to just cut all my hair off without considering the opportunity to do something different. I have decided to let my hair grow out and to see how I like it long.
The easing of pandemic restrictions has coincided with the number of people who comment on the length of my hair. I’m aware that the phrase “Covid hair” has a limited shelf life. I anticipate that I will encounter individuals who feel entitled to judge me based on the way I wear my hair. That’s OK, within limits.
The thinning of my hair and losing most of my usable vision were unrelated, but parallel, Coincidences. The fact that I don’t see is an element in considering a post-pandemic hair style. I am very aware that I do not have visual cues from peers or social media outlets to guide my thought processes. I have decided my own best judgment is the most reliable reference point for how I want to present myself in the world.
I have learned through this exercise that I have expectations of both how I see myself in the world and how I perceive others see me in the world. I realize how much my expectations are shaped by my background. Even though I was aware of queer people in my life at an early age, my perceptions have been shaped by the heteronormative beliefs that there are two binary genders that (most often) correspond to a person’s reproductive organs. These beliefs have led me to associate long hair with females and short hair with males.
So, I have decided to grow my hair out. I am not sure how much of a statement I am making in my choice. I know heteronormative beliefs are still held by many people. I know that neither my sexuality nor my gender are aligned to a strict gender binary. What I do not know is how many people feel entitled to be judgmental of my personal choices.
The only things I know for sure are:
- Some people will like my hair style based on how it looks on me
- Some people will not like the way my hair looks, for a variety of reasons
- Some people will think I am making a statement about queer identity: some will be supportive, others not
- As a person who identifies as queer, I feel a responsibility to show up as a whole person, knowing there are others who do not have a safe space to do the same
- Most people will just go on with their lives
My take a ways:
When I first thought of this piece, I envisioned some sort of bold statement about lifestyle choices and queer representation. In the end, we are just talking about how I concluded to let my hair grow out. Here are a few questions that crossed my mind in the writing process:
- How do I distinguish between the values I hold and my beliefs?
- How do I distinguish between my own beliefs and the beliefs of others?
- How do I distinguish between constructive criticism and uninvited opinions?
- Who/what are my reference points for shaping my personal style?
- What are my expectations that those I think of as wise are also qualified to advise me on questions of personal style?
- What are my expectations that those who provide unsolicited opinions are also qualified to advise me on questions of personal style?
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