Could You Not Touch It? A Mixed Girl’s Hair Intervention

by Giselle Moreau, ’16

My entire life I’ve been defined by my hair. In fact, people describe me by it, praise me for it, locate me by it—it has been the go to for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds to approach and interact with me. I even wrote my college essay on how I “was” my hair.

Last night I started pondering getting a hair cut. I was only looking to get my ends trimmed, but then my thoughts expanded and began asking me questions: what if you really cut your hair? What if you cut it short? What if you cut it all off?

7-1 Giselle

Hair isn’t a joke.

Now there are some people reading this (Mom), who will be quick to classify me as unstable and say that I shouldn’t pull a Britney Spears (really?), that I’ll hate it, that it might not be a good idea. I have several responses to those thoughts/individuals that I’d like to share:

The first is, despite what I may have written prior to this, I am not my hair and my hair is not me. My hair is a part of me and will always be just that. It has certainly shaped my experiences and interactions with others, but it is not a stagnant descriptor in my life. The latter is something white girls have yet to understand (please, could you not touch it?).

Hair does not equate to beauty. Too many women I know place much of the value in their external appearance on their hair: its length, its ends, how glossy it is, how thick it is… As a mixed child and a person of color, my curls increased this behavior tenfold. Whether it was my own perspective on what made me beautiful, or other peoples’ perspectives—my curls won first place. Now I see that these notions of femininity are just misplaced ideals of what a heteronormative male dominated society views as “feminine.” I am not going to allow some invisible societal pressure to delineate what I should do with my features and my body in order to feed a machine that continues to foster oppressive and constrictive ideas of femininity. To my sisters, we are beautiful in so many ways—do not let your hair define you and your beauty. Do not let beauty define your femininity—what is beautiful? What is feminine? Strength is beautiful, love is beautiful, fear is beautiful, radical is beautiful, intelligence is beautiful, bold is beautiful, liberation is beautiful. Let us reexamine the shackles that bind us to the one-dimensional ways of thinking about our relationships and ourselves.

This is not a result of my queerness. I am not considering a buzz cut because of my identity as a queer individual. I am not a product of the asymmetrical cuts of the stereotypical “queer lady coming out” world. My decision to cut my hair resides within a part of myself seeking to radicalize and liberate expectations of who I am and what femininity means to me. This is not a queer identity crisis.

Hats.

Bowties will look so good.

My hair will grow back, eventually.

I’m not going to lie—this is terrifying. But that’s one of the reasons why I want to do this. I’m facing my fear head (ha ha, pun) on. Its just hair.

With that said I will entertain my loved ones’ by giving myself a timeline for this decision. Today is Monday July 1st, 2013. Two months from now, on Monday August 26th, 2013, I will make the executive and binding commitment to either keep my hair as is or cut it all off and liberate my head.

Regardless of the decision I make in two months, know that it will be rooted in politics that don’t seek to promote anti-radical feminine characteristics. I am who I am; my hair is but one part of the vast multi-faceted being I occupy. Till August 26th.

Love,

Giselle

PS: If you have any suggestions for haircuts or ideas of what hair and femininity mean to you, please leave your wonderful thoughts in the comments below this piece.

Giselle Moreau is an undergraduate student at Stanford University. She is interested in exploring dialogue surrounding ideas of femininity, queerness, and race and ethnicity. She’s obsessed with bow ties and uses her French background to hit on girls (yeah, she just went there). She’s also unofficially won best dressed sailor on Stanford campus #nantucketforlife #frenchstripes.

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5 thoughts on “Could You Not Touch It? A Mixed Girl’s Hair Intervention

  1. Karen Adjei says:

    OMG we have the EXACT same hair and we kind of look alike its so weird! I am also mixed with a French father and Ghanian mother! yay! did you cut your hair or keep it? I cut all of my long hair to my shoulders, and honestly I love it way better than when it was long! then I cut bangs, loved it, now hate, trying to grow it back!! I was so afraid of doing it, but I’m so glad that I did! Fill me in please!

  2. Magan says:

    Your post definitely hit close to home. I am also mixed and Ive always been know for my long curly hair, its kinda my thing. Ive always wanted to shave my head, Im talkin buzz cut, but Ive always been terrified!! Last week I pulled a Cassie and shaved the side (mom flipped!!) and I feel liberated and am itching to do the whole thing. I know in my heart theres a sick little mixed girl who would appreciate having my hair way more than I do so I want to find the perfect foundation I before I take the leap!! Rock on mami, youre beautiful regardless! We are not out hair!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    You do you boo

  4. Adrienne says:

    This blog was great, and it was so timely for me to read. I recently chopped off all of my hair (yesterday when this blog was posted) because of a funny accident–a British stylist was leading an edgy workshop at the salon my sister’s wife works at, and I agreed to be a dummy for them to try a cut on–the teacher did not consult me, and I watched as all of my hair fell to the floor. I quickly panicked, regretting what I’d volunteered for, as the cut ended up becoming an odd “a la mode” bob, like Crystal Castles level but blockier, which my sister’s wife hacked off in the end so that I could have a normal, fun haircut for my age. “We can always take more off!” She said as she cut it all away. I was shocked by how sad I was to lose all of my hair, and it all sort of stained my day yesterday. Mostly because I didn’t expect to chop it all off, that’s usually something you plan, you know? But I started today feeling a bit better about it all, hair is just hair, it it looks pretty rad short, I’ll admit. This blog helped me cement that feeling and realize how I fetishized my long, beautiful hair, rather than embracing myself without this accessory. The message hit close to home for me, thanks for writing! And I’m excited for you to grab a sweet haircut too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    YES YES YES

    Two weeks ago I cut ten inches off all my long straight blonde hairs. “But it’s so beauuutiful” people told me….beauty in the sense that long and straight and blonde and naturally highlighted seems to be what a lot of women are striving for. The person who cut it even informed me that my “European” hairs (straight and fine) are worth a lot on the hair market (such a thing exists?!). I insisted that I wanted to donate instead of sell but they didn’t seem to quite understand.

    I’m still not used to my haircut. It’s kind of an awkward length for the desert in the summer so I think I want to go shorter. But a girl with super short hair is a statement. I wish it didn’t have to be…I just want it out of my way!

    Even though I’m scared of drawing attention to myself everywhere I go, I think I’m going to do it. Because as you say, it’s just a part of me! It’s a part of me I can change if I want to. I think people might see me as less feminine, but I don’t really care. The courage to chop my hairs off is what makes me my kind of feminine.

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