I wrote this in class with the prompt, “Write your story in three different hair related moments.” Hope you enjoy!
Sitting on the toilet in the cramped bathroom, my mom hacked at my long blonde matted hair with scissors. She had never cut hair before, had no aspirations to cut hair in the future. She was doing this purely out of necessity.
Two days earlier, a foreboding note had been sent home with big font spelling out the “LICE OUTBREAK” that was dominating my elementary school. My parents had been threatening for years to cut my hair if I didn’t get better at brushing it, and when the day came that I started frantically scratching my scalp, for my mom, it was the last straw. She explained to me in no uncertain terms that I was to sit down and let her cut out the mats that the lice had buried themselves under. I sat there, tap-tap-taping my leg, turning my head every so often, just to have my mom grab my jaw and force me to face forward.
I saw the mats hit the floor, and I reached up to feel my hair. What had previously gone down to my shoulders now halted right above ears, and my bangs were cut up to above my forehead. It looked somewhere between a balding fifty-year-old man and a bowl cut. I assure you, it was quite a look. I took one glance in the mirror and screamed. I raced out of the bathroom and into my bedroom, slamming and locking the door. I jammed a hat on my head and curled into a ball on my floor. I couldn’t stop wailing that I looked like a boy, and no one was ever going to see I was a girl.
Three weeks before the first day of high school, I announced to my parents that I was going to make a drastic change. Middle school had ended miserably, and I needed to improve upon myself for the mature high school image I aspired towards. The first step towards maturity, I had decided, was dying my hair blue. I ended up coaxing my mom into driving me to CVS to buy cheap blue dye, and by eleven o’clock that night, I had hair that was mostly blue…ish.
The next day, I was so pleased with myself. My sister hadn’t yet left for college, and I knocked on her door to show off my new do. She took one look at me and said, “You look like a clown.” It was like she had turned an off button. I shrank into myself. Suddenly I was struck by how awful it looked, but she assured me that if we went to a professional hair stylist, she could right the wrong I had mistakenly imposed on my hair.
Two weeks before the first day of high school, and one day before orientation, I went to a hair salon, where the same hair dresser who had been taming my hair for years tried to reverse the blue. A day later, I proudly walked into orientation with shiny, freshly cut and shampooed…grey hair.
After years of complaining about hating my long bushy hair, on my sixteenth birthday, I had 10 inches of it cut off. In five minutes, I had the shortest hair I’d ever had. Even shorter than the lice incident. Cutting my hair was like a gateway drug into expressing my gender identity. It was dizzying once my hair was gone how fast people just went with my quick transition from presenting as a girly-girl to presenting as a boy.
Now, three years later, I am growing my hair out. “Why?” my mom asks. “You’ll get misgendered so much more. Just cut your hair.”
“Why?” my friend asks. “You hated your long hair.”
Why? Because I didn’t hate my long hair. I hated the assumptions people imposed on me when I had long hair. Besides, if I don’t like it long, I can just cut it all off. It’s not like I’ve never done that before.