Why cutting all my hair off is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself
I came home with Jolly Ranchers in my hair every other day during the middle school years. My hair’s natural frizz and volume proved to be a fortifying garden for hard candy and wooden-handle brushes. It was a tough time.
I learned the patience and virtue of frying it straight pretty quickly. It took the persistence of a Tibetan monk and the forearm strength of a male porn star to tame it. Almost every night in high school, after a 2-hour softball practice, after 2 more hours of homework, after an hour eating dinner with the family, I sat and straightened it out, pretzel-legged on the carpet of my bedroom floor, dead strands of curl circling me like a Satanic pentagram. It took about 2 and a half hours to complete, which left me the last 4 or 5 hours of the night to sleep before I got up for school.
I was hapless as I was sleepless. Truth be told, I wasn’t really a fan of the straightened version of my head. It helped me blend in and kept sugar-coated treats out of it, but it wasn’t me.
The college years were marked by the lazy up-do: tight around the face, clumped into an incoherent nest at the crown of my head. That hairstyle took a total of 3 seconds to finesse. And it showed. It wasn’t an act of defiance to the traditional neat waterfalls of hair American culture has curated for the modern trendy woman. It was defeat.
It wasn’t until I graduated college that I began having real thoughts about sheering the sheep. I joked about it, qualifying with “…but I’d never actually cut off all my hair.” It was a way to protect myself from becoming what I had spent my life trying to not be — a stereotype.
Half way through my college experience, I finally succumbed to another unpopular reality of my life. I have hair thicker than a Brillo pad and I’m gay. I’m the gayest gay that ever gayed, and I’m proud of it. But at the time, I didn’t want to give it away on a glance. Finding my identity felt like tight roping walking the Grand Canyon drunk and with zero training. I wasn’t prepared for the reality that in some cases, strangers weren’t going to use heuristics to figure me out.
I didn’t want anyone to think that I was trying to conform to queer culture on purpose. I didn’t cut my hair, something I wanted to do for a really long time, because I didn’t want everyone to think I was doing it for any reason other than for myself.
The paradox of trying to beat out everyone else’s opinion before they got a chance to give it to me was hard to keep up with.
I got sick of that and made good on those hair appointments I promised my girlfriend I would make. She got a little triangular point shaved at the nape of her neck and when it was my turn, she held my hand peeping out of the black smock. The hairdresser held the woolen mass in her hand and gave me one last chance to look back. I didn’t.
It’s only been a couple days, but using a dab of conditioner as a opposed to a bottle has proven to be a deal breaker. This is the first time in my life I’ve actually felt comfortable with how I look. Sugar-free.