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.
My daughter was recently called a lesbian. Now there are so many directions I can go with this. Do I discuss the twelve-year-old boy (from here on out know as the ignoramus), or do I, tell you the reason why he called her that or finally, do I rant about how totally insensitive and disappointing it is that someone uses that word as an analogy to mean a bad thing?
Still unsure of how to approach this in writing, I’ll start at the beginning of the story, the place where my tomboy daughter asked to have her hair cut. She fell in love with the movie Le Miserables, with Eddie Redmayne (Maurius), with Anne Hathaway’s hair cut she wore at the Oscars.
Though her hair wasn’t super long, she could still wear it in a small and adorable pony tail; but she really was drawn to the short style. As she debated about cutting her hair so short, she came across a lot of support from me and her friends and then, she ran into the opposite of support. Her sixth grade boyfriend hated the idea of the short cut and eventually broke up with her over it. Yeah, I’m not making this up. I hugged my daughter, told her I was proud of her for not letting anyone tell her what do to or what to think and for eventually going through with the shorter hair style, even if that meant she lost her first boyfriend. Frankly, he could be named here on out as ignoramus number one.
Weeks later, at a school dance, original ignoramus, unprovoked called her a lesbian, all over her short hair style. She came home and cried. It had been rough since her boyfriend broke up with her. The boys picked on her for that and for her short style. And then this.
I told her that people who call her names are ignorant and mean and she deserves better. I am so proud of her for standing up for herself. I’ve always tried to teach my kids that people are born the way they are born and we need to be respectful of that.
I’m so sad for her because all of these things made her change her mind about her hair. She’s contemplating growing it back. While she’s tired of people judging her based on her looks, she feels she must conform on some level, letting people know she’s a girl. She now struggles to find out how to do this on her own terms. It’s a struggle we all go through in some way, every day.
While we wish for our kids only happiness and a world without pain but it doesn’t happen, no matter how hard we try. I just wish people would raise their children to be more accepting of others, because as I tell my children, people are people just like us. We may not always agree with them, but it wouldn’t hurt to be nice and respectful.