Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm Now A Short-Haired Man-Hater, and How Pairs Skating Ruined My Life

Yesterday I went mad with self-disgust and decided it was finally time to do something about my outgrown, scraggly hair and shaggy brows, so I nipped off to the nearest salon for a haircut and wax. After several losing bouts trying to maintain a pixie cut, I’ve kept my hair shoulder-length for the past few years, indifferently tying it back in a ponytail or a clip and letting the rest fall where it may. The result was both boring and unflattering, but I haven’t cared enough to do anything about it.

Part of my reluctance to act is that I never know what I want to do with my hair when I go to get it cut. The dialogue with the stylist becomes a weird power struggle, with them trying to get me to commit to something--anything, and me trying to get them to take total control over the situation and chop my hair into a perfect, magical, alluring, yet low-maintenance cut. They seem to have the idea that I should have input. I don’t want to have input. I just want to plop down into the chair and let them figure out what do. What do I know from hair? They’re the professionals. Why are they asking me all of these questions?  

I found myself in the midst of the same power-struggle with my stylist yesterday, until we both finally realized what I was wanted was her cut. It was adorable, but it was…short. Much shorter than I thought I wanted. Since I’ve stopped with the pixie cuts, I’ve become attached to long hair, because frankly, the social cost of keeping a short cut as a woman in this society is just too tiresome. When I had the pixies, men in the streets would literally call me a lesbian (or, once, memorably—“a red-headed man-hating dyke bitch”), and female co-workers would say things like “You’re so feminine, it’s too bad your hair doesn’t reflect the real you”. When I had long hair and I mentioned casually I was getting it cut, people I didn’t even know very well would immediately say, “but not too short, right?” I’ve never understood this desperate attachment to long hair on women. It’s completely senseless. Long hair does not look good on every female. Sometimes, length does nothing to flatter to our faces and we’re better off without it. And I have seen plenty of very feminine women who look stunning with short hair. Look at what it did to bring out the beautiful bone structure of Charlize Theron.

The problem as I see it is threefold: We have made “long hair” synonymous with “feminine”, men resent women with short hair because they perceive us as being more interested in pleasing ourselves than pleasing them, and no one really sees anyone as a whole person, only as individual body parts. So the fact that a shorter cut is much more flattering to some woman’s faces than a lot of superfluous length is lost on most people. But this red-headed dyke bitch likes her new short cut and doesn’t care what the idiots think.

Speaking of femininity, it’s the Winter Games and ice skating is on! When I was a kid, I loved watching the ice skating, and I thought there was nothing more perfectly girly in the world than the beautiful lady skaters in their sparkly spandex, spinning around and emoting all of their delicate lady-feelings through their painted eyes. But what I really loved was the pairs skating. I realized yesterday while watching the pairs competition that my early ideas about romantic relationships were sadly misinformed by my rapt viewing of pairs skating as a child. (Of course I assumed that all of the pairs couples were married or at least romantically involved.) Pairs skating taught me that relationships were accompanied by grand, romantic music, that love would make you automatically beautiful and graceful, that you would be in perfect sync with your partner at all times, and dressing up in sparkling outfits would be the norm. Frankly, I feel totally cheated. It turns out marriage is nothing like that. I’d love to see a pairs routine that centered around snapping at your spouse for forgetting the decaf and tripping over them because they can’t watch where the hell they’re going. Then little girls like me wouldn’t grow up with unrealistic expectations. 

--Kristen McHenry