Turning the Other Cheek

I recently cut my hair short. As many ladies who have had the audacity to cut their long hair can attest to, many gentlemen feel free to express their displeasure at such an endeavor. This tends to be one of those things that enrages me.

People tell me I have pretty hair. I have a lot of really thick, naturally red hair. I think my hair looks nice when it is long, but because of its thickness, it is heavy and a pain in the ass to deal with. Washing it sets off an hour-plus long chain of events that I have little time and no patience for. 95% of the time, it is pulled back in a ponytail. I like it better short, so when my lazy ass finally gets to the salon (maybe once a year), I typically have my stylist cut it short. I have gone full pixie in the past, but this time I went for a shoulder-length shag. I have spent my entire life getting shit from my father, brothers, and ex-boyfriends every time I’ve cut it short, and it pisses me off. It has become one of those things that sets me off because, honestly, it is just plain rude.

After. I like to make pretty faces in photos.

Please ignore the stupid face I am making. Aside from that, I totally dig the hair. So much lighter and easier to wrangle. The day after I got it cut, one of my building engineers stopped by to check in with me on something or other. He asked if I had cut my hair, and I confirmed that I had. He then made this stupid pouty face at me, and it activated my Feminist Killjoy powers. I said, “Are you serious? The length of my hair does not define me as person, or as woman.” He was taken aback, as people often are when they hit a nerve they didn’t intend to, and tried to back-pedal it with, “It’s just that your long hair is so pretty, that’s all I meant,” to which I replied, “You realize it is the same hair, right?”

I’m sure many of you are thinking to yourselves right now that I acted like an asshole. You are definitely not alone; the ladies in my office agreed with you until I explained my rationale (actually, even after I think they still think I was an asshole, but hear me out on this). What he did was rude. While it might seem harmless and that I overreacted, let’s look at it in a different way. Say you came into work wearing a new dress that you were totally loving. Someone asks you if it is new, you reply that it is, then they cock their head and pout out their bottom lip, making it clear that they do not like it at all. Is that not utterly rude? What is the possible point of such behavior? The only thing accomplished by it is to make you feel bad about yourself, to turn something that made you happy into something you will now question every single time you go to wear that dress in the future, whether you want to or not. And since women are typically trained early on to avoid being rude at all costs, we allow this rudeness to occur without incident, allowing the person who slighted us to get away with their behavior and continue to operate under the assumption that it is acceptable to treat others poorly. Fuck that. I reject that reality. I am sick of turning the other cheek to rudeness and cruelty.

This guy’s opinion on my hair holds no value for me; I honestly do not think I could possibly care less what he thinks. However, I am sure their are plenty of people in his world who do care what he thinks of them, and what I hoped to accomplish with my push-back is that he stops to think the next time he is about to express an opinion that is potentially hurtful to someone. While a haircut comment is not very important in the grand scheme of things, if we allow rudeness in little ways, I feel we are silently condoning it, allowing it to spread to much more important topics. I can’t count the amount of times I have bitten my tongue when faced with hard-core conservatives telling me my political beliefs are naive or uneducated (HA! I have some studies to show those folks on education levels of political views, but I digress). How many times I have allowed religious conservatives to tell me I am immoral or going to hell when I don’t agree with them denying people basic human rights. How often I have allowed a hurtful comment to go unchecked in order to keep the peace with friends or family members. I am fed up. I am done allowing people to belittle me, my values, my beliefs, and yes, even my damn hair, without pointing out their rudeness.

Just to be clear, I am not advocating being rude without provocation. I do my best to think about the effect my words have on people and I do everything in my power to not be hurtful. What I am pushing is calling others out on their rudeness. I want to believe that most people are not intentionally mean, they have just never had their thoughtlessness pointed out to them. If we could all be a little more considerate, a little more caring, and a little less discourteous, our daily interactions could be much more fulfilling and cause a lot less pain. From a parent making a comment about one’s recent weight gain to a coworker taking their own incompetence out on anyone other than themselves, take a stand. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, send me an email and I’ll take a stand for you. There is enough negativity in the world around us; we don’t need those closest to us contributing to anymore esteem crushing nonsense.

56 replies on “Turning the Other Cheek”

This, this. this.  I had short hair for a long enough time that now I feel I’ve been shut out from a sisterhood (I now have shoulder-length).  When I first cut my hair pixie-short in 11th grade, people started calling me Andy.  I was asked if I was gay (high school in rural Arkansas).  I had dreams several nights a week about my hair having miraculously grown back.  I didn’t regret my decision at all, but the reaction from others definitely told me that I had done something to diminish my femininity, and that was coming out hardcore in my dreams.  These dreams persisted to a lesser extent for 10 years.

It’s already touchy territory to comment on people’s looks (unless you’re friends and know it’s ok) but to criticize?  I don’t know why people think they can get away with it, and more people like you should DEFINITELY speak up.

“That’s fine, but I didn’t ask your opinion.”

“Excuse me?”

“Should I glue it back on?”

“You can grow your own hair out if you like long hair so much.”

One of my lady friends recently asked a question about “What looks better on women, short hair or long hair?”, as an open discussion  because she’s thinking about cutting her hair short. I was astounded to see a few guys comment that long hair ALWAYS looks better on women.. and women who think they look better in short hair as just deceiving themselves. What kind of ego must you have to know what’s the right look on every female of the entire species? I was pretty floored (though, I honestly thought that her question should have been about what would have been more suitable for *her* self, not every women in general).

I’m with you on the long, heavy, thick hair though. I’m currently growing mine out because it’s been years since I had long hair, but I”m not sure how long it’ll last. It’s hot and the ponytails can give me a wicked headache.

Agree! Right before I cut my hair off, I had a guy tell me that we couldn’t date anymore if I did. Which made me want to chop my hair more (cause I’m gonna call you out)- I suppose it was for the best of both of us that we did not date anymore. Eh. Oh well.

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