Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Long Hair

My grandfather put a lot of importance on hair, its length, its care -- its spiritual significance. Even though his career dictated that his hair must be kept short. As a child my hair grew long and free. None of the other kids had a problem with it. Teachers at school questioned my mother when my braid passed the small of my back but she stood up for me. It was harmless.

When lice was going around the school and I contracted it from my younger sibling, the school nurse advised us that we would have to cut my hair. That I could not be properly treated as I was, even though she wasn't going to be the one to treat me. It would take too long, according to them. My mother sat with me patiently, working the product into my scalp and combing through my hair strand by strand for hours. I was lice free faster than most other children on campus despite having three times as much hair. I did not cut my hair for medical reasons.

When I started high school I was pressured by my peers to cut my hair. Suddenly, even with them, it was an issue. My friends would tell me at least once a week how much better I would look with shorter hair. A style more in trend at the time, shoulder length or shorter was all the rage. They didn’t get why I would sacrifice their view of beauty for an idea they couldn’t fathom. Sure, I was pretty, but I could be prettier. Why wouldn’t I want that? I did not cut my hair for fashion.

In my junior year I was told that the boy I liked would not date me because I had so much hair. It was just too long. I was told that he would date me after I got a hair cut and only then. His loss, not mine. I did not cut my hair for a boy.

In my senior year I met a little girl with Alopecia. I overheard her speaking to her mother about how all she wanted was to look like other girls at school and not be teased for her baldness – which she had no control over. I had an abundance and she had nothing. The next day I cut my hair and donated it to Locks of Love. An organization that creates quality wigs for children with Alopecia and Cancer who cannot otherwise afford them. I cut my hair for charity.

Even though it was for a good cause, I disliked the sudden shortness of my hair. I felt as if part of me was gone. Though I did not regret my decision, I wanted to grow it out again immediately. I heard nothing but boisterous compliments from my peers. That boy I had liked asked me out. I told him I knew puddles with more depth. He didn’t get it. I had to explain that I was turning him down.

No one understood why I didn’t maintain my new hair style. Why I would let it grow out again. It was completely beyond their comprehension that hair could possibly be anything other than a fashion statement. I tried to explain, every now and then, but the idea was so outrageous to them they couldn’t grasp it. “But you looked great with short hair!” is all I’d get back.

I’ve cut my hair several times since then, usually for reasons (loss, new start, etc.), and always donated it. Every single time I go through the same experience. "You should keep it this length, you look so much better with short hair!" Hair can be fashionable, there's nothing wrong with that, but that isn't its sole purpose. Not to me. Not to many people. It is more than an accessory.

I will cut my hair when it is significant to do so. While I appreciate the thought behind the compliments, please don't be shocked when I go against all reason (in your mind) and grow it out again.

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