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?
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.
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.
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.