The most judgmental person in the whole process, turns out, is me. Around a month ago, I cut off more than twelve inches of my hair for a second go-around with a pixie cut. While certainly not as dramatic as the first time (a rash high school decision after moving across the country from a very liberal city to a New England Prep school – one that sent shockwaves through my school, pushed beauty standards, and ended up playing a huge and positive role in shaping my identity), I was nervous and apprehensive going into the cut.
One would think that having had such a positive experience with it a few years before, it would have been a no-brainer to do again, but aging (ha!) has made me more cautious. When the idea came up, I was hesitant, ashamedly because I was worried people would make assumptions about my sexual orientation and guys wouldnʼt be attracted to me. Ultimately, I decided to do it because I was so mad at myself for considering anyone elseʼs opinion above my own. There were other reasons: I like how it looks, it flatters my face shape, I would be spending the summer in an extremely hot environment. Most importantly, though, I have never been someone who allows myself to be crippled by fear of what others will think and say, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to start now.
The most important thing Iʼve learned is that I owe it to the people around me to give them more credit, and I owe it to myself to stop self-judging and projecting my insecurities and stereotypes onto others. Much of my hesitation was centered around what people at my preppy university would think of my new ʻdo, and I judged myself much harsher than any of them have. The most common reaction I get is how edgy, cool, and flattering it is, which is part of why I did it, because I was tired of blending in with every other longhaired girl.
I recently went out to a party and a guy started flirting with me. About 20 minutes in to our conversation, he asked me if I wanted to go back to my place with him “to chill”. I said no and he immediately asked me if I was straight or not. My mouth ran dry as my most bitter high school memory flooded my mind.
After posting a prom photo of my best friend and I hugging on facebook, a boy I hadnʼt seen in years commented on it, asking if he was missing something. I asked him what and after no response private messaged him. He went on to question if he had missed my coming out. I asked him what ignorant stereotype he was basing this assumption off of, my short hair or that Iʼm hugging a girl. He told me not to get my panties in a twist. I called him an ignorant prick and we havenʼt spoken since. I want to take a moment here to say that the offense I took had nothing to do with the connection to homosexuality, (#legalize) but the superficial assumption that you can guess anything about someone from their physical appearance and the blind pigeonholing of certain looks being associated with certain sexualities.
Flash forward back to me and this random guy at a party. I defensively demanded why he had asked if I was straight or not and he told me itʼs because girls never say no to him (he claims heʼs a model) and he figured the only reason Iʼd say no was because I wasnʼt attracted to him.
I could barely contain my laughter, not just because of how ridiculous and presumptuous his statement was (for which I reamed him out – listing all the reasons I didnʼt want to go home with him, none of which had to do with my sexuality – and after which he asked me for my number because heʼd really enjoyed “this truly humbling experience”), but because here I was ready to assume the worst in someone, based off of my own stereotypes and insecurities.
Hair is just hair, it does not define you, it will grow back, it speaks nothing to your inner value as a person. But a haircut can teach you something. For me, that lesson is that we are our own worst critics, and there is always room for people to surprise you. If you want to do something, do it for yourself, do not do it (or refrain from doing it) because you are worried about other peopleʼs opinions. It is easy to fall into a stagnant holding pattern, not because you are happy there (although itʼs fine if you are!), but because you are comfortable there, and scared to leave. If the only legitimate thing holding you inside a box is fear of judgment (from others, but especially yourself), stop underestimating those around you and step outside.