For years I wanted to get my hair cut really short, like a “pixie” cut. Every time I saw a woman with really short hair, I always found her Striking. She made you take a double-take; she radiated confidence. She just demanded the attention of everyone around her, just by walking by. So much personality. I always admired someone who could be so different.
I never had the guts to do it, though. I was always afraid of various things, but mostly that I would look un-feminine, somehow.
Growing up as the only girl, and the youngest child, I did not grow up in need. That said, my family was never anywhere near “rich” — my parents were divorced, and my mom raised 3 children by herself — but back in the 90s when there actually WAS a middle class, we were probably in it. I had like 100 Barbie dolls, along with the beach house, and the car. These were the toys girls were “supposed to play with.” However, all I ever did to “play” with the dolls was change them into different outfits, which is probably why I had like 100. Back then they only sold outfits with new dolls. That, or I’d take the house apart and put it back together. Girls were supposed to “role-play” but I always thought that was super weird. And secretly, I would just sneak into my brother’s room and play his Sega Genesis, or play with my other brother’s LEGO blocks. They would get so mad when I played with their Matchbox Car race track. I thought that thing was AWESOME.
I spent most of my childhood in ballet classes. I suppose it worked out that I happened to like something that was stereotypically “feminine” but that was not why I liked it. I also spent my teenage years playing Super Nintendo and making websites. In high school, I played on an ice hockey team. There was only one, so I was one of two girls.
I tried to pursue a career in Dance, but there are several reasons why I decided against it. I eventually ended up in school for computer science. I had no idea just how perfect that career path was for me at the time, especially since I had absolutely no previous coding experience.
Point is, I always flocked to things that were stereotypically “for boys.” I always struggled with being the only girl. I tried embracing “being one of the guys” but it always conflicted with my constant fear of dying alone with no one to love me (product of divorce FTW!) and so I couldn’t be “one of the guys” if I also wanted to, say, date one of the guys. I never fit in with the girls either, though. Mostly everyone just thought I was weird.
So I grew up pretty conflicted, and increasingly self-conscious of my looks. Going to college for Ballet did. Not. Help. One. Bit. I never even thought to look at my body the way I learned to as a dancer. Plus, at the same time, I was dating someone who was verbally abusive and manipulative. He really tore me down as a person. By the end of it, I was a shell of my former self. I had no idea who I was anymore. And I let it happen because Irrational Fear Of Dying Alone.
I also grew up with Impostor Syndrome, though I didn’t know what that was until literally last year. My mother always told me I had an “artistic temperament” and was a perfectionist. That may be part of it, but never feeling like I “fit in” made me feel like I was never able to contribute anything to whatever group I was in. Being a “girl” meant I was less of a person, somehow. In fact, for the longest time, I really despised femininity. I saw other girls/women as the enemy because I was taught that their behavior — backstabbing cattiness — was “just how girls are.” But I wasn’t like that. I set myself apart, claiming to “not understand most women.” It made me fit in better with the guys.
In college, I met some girls who were like me. I was happy about it, but it took me a long time to trust those relationships. I just figured we were flukes; we were wired differently than “most girls.”
It wasn’t until after graduating and joining the work force that I began to learn about Feminism. I began to see the world for what it is. I realized that women are pitted against each other to keep us locked into stereotypes, rather than being seen as real people. I began to learn that “feminine” and “masculine” stereotypes are social constructs created by the patriarchy to keep people “in their place.” I started to get angry, instead of self-conscious. Slowly, my confidence grew, and is still growing.
I have since developed what I consider to be life-long friends with those identifying as female, as well as those identifying as anything else. Learning that we all can rely on each other, and love each other, unconditionally, has been one of the most life-changing and beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.
And recently, life threw a bit of a curve ball at me. I had a nice little cozy set-up, and then the carpet was pulled out from under it all. C’est la vie, but I needed a way to feel like I was in control of at least one thing. So I decided it was time.
To cut off all my hair.
I went from probably shoulder length to pixie cut. It took over 2 hours — I have a ton of hair. I honestly look like a different person, I think. It was terrifying, but sometimes Confidence Is Terrifying. I no longer worry about whether or not I look a certain way. I am comfortable with who I am. Including my flaws. Including my accomplishments. Including(/excluding?) my hair.