Perusing the internet the other day I found a blog from a mother whose son chose to wear his hair long. He like it long and was owning the look. Now long hair on boys and men really isn’t such a big deal now a days, but for this mom, it was. It wasn’t because she wanted her son to have short hair and be something he wasn’t but she didn’t like the reaction of those around him, to his long hair. She complained that he was constantly called she or her and she was tired of strangers telling mom that she had three beautiful daughters. Yes she had two beautiful daughters and one handsome son.
I know exactly what that mom was going through. I have a beautiful, smart, athletic and funny daughter who from the very beginning was nothing but a tom boy and has spent most of her 14 years, trying to figure out who she is. Until she was five she wore clothes from the boy’s section. At 3 she wanted her hair short like a boy. I was hesitant because she dressed like a boy and I didn’t want confusion for her or others. We made a compromise of sorts and the hairdresser did a great job giving her a cut that was short but kept her looking like a girl. She was thrilled. But eventually kids change their minds and she began growing out the once adorable cut. Still wearing boy clothes as her hair grew out, she oftentimes would be called he, him or my son. It would anger me and as she got older it bothered her.
She knows she’s a girl, but she’s not like the other girls. She doesn’t like pink or princesses. But she loved the Twilight books and she loves to hunt, wear perfume and makeup. If my daughter could, she’d live in basketball shorts but on that rare occasion that she has to dress up she doesn’t stop and slacks and a blouse. She goes all out strapless party dress with converse gym shoes. My daughter is just who she is but she hasn’t found her place in society or even in her circle of friends.
Who she is, is a unique kid who knows what she likes but surrounded by crazy, stupid, hormonal teenagers, she gets picked on and bullied, something I wasn’t completely aware of until I let her get a short hair cut. I convinced her to not go crazy and get that short spiked do’ but a very cute Anne Hathaway at the Oscars hair style. My daughter was adorable, one of great faces for short hair. I loved it, she loved it and felt very comfortable in her own skin. But her boyfriend at the time, granted they were 11, broke up with her, she was called a lesbian and teased about an awful hair cut.
My heart breaks for my daughter who so desperately wants to fit in but has her own style that makes her not quite fit in. I gave her a choice. You take responsibility for your look and ignore the stupid around you or you find a way to fit in that makes you comfortable and allows you to be you. She chose the latter because she’s not quite confident enough to own her look yet. I’ve worked with her on crafting a style that allows her to fit in and yet honor her style. Ripped blue jeans, rock and roll t-shirts from the girls section because their cut closer to the body and teal converse shoes, allow her to be her and yet, be a girl too. I’m willing to let her experiment with her style, her hair, her make up but not her hair length. Because after all she went through and after growing her hair out she now wants it short again. I feel bad but I told her no. Not because I don’t want her to be herself but because I’m worried about the stupid that surrounds her.
Hair is so much of who we are, it’s the first thing people notice about us and they can perceive so much about who we are whether its correct or not. I promised my daughter that she could cut off her once blonde hair and cut it short but only when those around her are mature enough to not open their mouths. But then again, my daughter is 14 and has changed her mind again, she wants long extensions.
We can only do our best with our children as we navigate the ups and downs of raising them. I hope that someday my daughter will have a better sense of herself and trust that those around her will like her for who she is and not what she wears or by the length of her hair.