The Importance of Hair For Trans Women
How do I live my hair situation, and how much importance do I give to it as a 20-year-old trans woman?
I remember being a little kid with my buzz-cut, rolling around the playground while pretending to be a fairy of some sort. Back then, I didn’t have much say in what type of haircut I should have worn, so for years, I never even questioned if I could do something different to it. But I had my methods to overcome such restrictions.
T-shirts: my favorite wig
Many might already be smiling or laughing at this and understand what I’m talking about. When you are a kid and cannot grow your hair, there is one fast, effective, and fun simple way out: making a wig out of a t-shirt. I do not think I have to explain how this works (although there is no wikiHow about it as for now). Besides, I could not only pretend to have lengthened my hair, but also to have changed color accordingly.
Obviously, not everyone saw what that “game” meant for me; especially my best friend, to whom I used to say that we could do that in order to play “ninjas.” It wasn’t the exact same thing, but it was close enough and it gave me so much joy that I simply couldn’t help but seize the chance!
I even corrupted my grandparents!
It was during an afternoon out at the supermarket that I saw it: as we were walking around to buy some groceries, we passed by the Halloween section and among all the costumes, a row of baskets filled with wigs. Blonde, smooth, straight, silky and shiny… that was the one I wanted; it was so long! PER-FECT.
After a few minutes of begging, they caved in and we were finally heading to the till and then home. I was the embodiment of joy and ceaselessly thanking them for it. The memory of my grandpa’s smile is still perfectly carved into my mind. I kept that wig for so long and used to it day in and day out until it started shedding so much hair that I could have easily choked just by turning around. I styled it, combed it, and cut it, over and over again. It was my way out of all those constraints.
2011: something changed
I started middle school and — I cannot remember how or why — my parents let me grow my hair, since it is naturally wavy/curly and quite appealing. Not only did I, but my dad also grew his hair out! The number of people telling us how similar we looked was astounding.
That look stayed on for years; until around 3-4 years ago, when right before the beginning of my last year of high school, I decided to give it a cut and literally lost a good 3 inches. I felt so naked, but also fresh. At the time, I was trying my hardest to fit into a cis-gay-male mould.
I was happy for over a year, until I could not look at myself anymore, nor feel any contentment. My beard felt repulsive, bulimia was still showing my bones in the foreground, moods were a daily struggle, and anxiety started showing more and more consistently. (I would wake up in the middle of the night — if I were even able to go to bed — my heart racing as if someone had just shaken me awake while rubbing the back of a slicer knife against my throat).
April 29: a new chapter for me and my (dead) hair
The day my parents received the letter through which I came out, I already knew I would have let my hair grow out as much as possible, but I had not taken into consideration a few things.
Firstly, my hair would not have grown as much at first, because I had previously decided to use a lightening spray to go blonde and it got so damaged that for two entire months it didn’t grow at all!
Then again, it’s still hair: it doesn’t grow long within a fortnight. It takes time, care and a lot of patience to get to a decent result. Yet, I substantially lack patience, and this drove me to several color changes and bleaching processes. To be exact, I changed 5 colors within a few months, and bleached it 5 times in around 6 weeks. It was wild, and both my friends and I are still unsure about how it didn’t fall out completely!
At this point, I have been longing for a wig for so long and so ardently. It has been a dream of mine for most of my life, and I finally have the possibility to make it come true. I do like my hair — the color and overall texture of it (although it suffered from all the treatments); nonetheless, I want the possibility to change my look on the daily without having to destroy my hair. The perfect solution is obviously a wig and now that the stigma on them has somewhat diminished, I more than ever wish to own a few.
My ideal collection would include: a couple bob cuts, one in a dark tone and the other one colored; one medium length (18inch~) and colored; a long one in orange. So far, I only have a weave and a dark-brown, shoulder-length bob of a perhaps too-precise cap size (I know that many appreciate a tight fit, but personally, I prefer a more “relaxed” fit). It is something, but I foresee a new purchase sometime soon!
So much ado about hair though…
Of course! It is a matter of utmost importance for someone who wishes to blend in and embody a new identity. Think about when you go to a salon and get your hair cut. Doesn’t it feel as if you were someone else at times? Or at least, as if you had undergone some major face transformation? Well, that’s because our hair and the way it relates to the rest of our face define our appearance and can make us look: happier, slimmer, plumper, shier and so many other emotions and looks that only those who’ve had a few bad experiences might thoroughly understand.
In fact, several studies have shown that hair is extremely important for women and can even lead to decisions like choosing to not leave the house if improper. We can thus easily understand how powerful hair can be, and when somebody forbids you from doing whatever you want with it, you might easily end up experiencing a deep frustration and aversion against them.
Actually, while I was doing some background research, I stumbled upon this astonishingly fabulous piece of writing. It caught my attention and interest straightaway. We are women; it does not matter if we are transgender or cis, we all identify as female individuals, and as such, there are things — like hair — which are fundamental.
Don’t be mistaken, I am absolutely not trying to say that all of us as women take hair as our ultimate goal in life; the very same way I might not be interested in sports and someone else in make-up, there are certainly plenty of women who don’t care about their hairdo.
Nonetheless, many of us (chiefly, perhaps, those who have to struggle more in order to “prove” themselves as “true women”) need to allocate more than minimal effort into our looks — hair included. For this reason, I would like to invite everyone to think it through: every time you see someone with a bad-hair day, an obvious wig, or whatever else, please, reflect about any plausible reaction. The thing is that we do not know what’s going on in someone else’s life, and what we might see as “inappropriate”— or even — “ridiculous” could be somebody living their absolute best life, and NO one should have the right to break that.