Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Short Hair & Social Media

Welcome back, Apprentices! Today, we're taking a break from the kitchen to discuss something that has been swirling about the nerdosphere of late, short hair. Specifically, the great social experiment that occurs when a woman cuts off her long, luxurious locks. It's a topic near and dear to my heart because in May of last year, I shaved my head for charity. Yep. With a razor. It was GONE. Check out the picture below…see that? GONE! Shaved away by that lovely bearded and tattooed man!

Having short hair is an adjustment. It is. And when I made the decision to shave it off, I was met with mixed reactions from friends and family. More than once, I was asked, "So, what kind of wig do you plan to get?" I was taken aback by that reaction. I was shocked that some friends and family thought having a bald head would be something to be ashamed of…to be covered. Because how could I dare to go out in public with a shaved head? Other reactions ranged from praise and admiration to disbelief. Many of my girlfriends responded, "I could never do that." And I always wondered…why not? It's JUST hair. It grows back. But then, I realized, there is so much wrapped up in a woman's hair. Other's perceptions of our femininity and sexuality is frequently directly associated with the length of our hair. Even our health is associated with our hair length. One day, I went to the grocery store and the woman at the check stand gave me a pitiful look and leaned in close, "How's your treatment going, honey?" I blinked, not sure how to respond. I quickly recovered and smiled, "I'm not sick." She turned about three shades of red.

The social implications run far and wide and exist among men and women. They are perpetuated by a media-obsessed culture with one, set idea of what feminine beauty should be: young, skinny and long, flowing hair.

Recently, there was an online article published by some guy going by the name Tuthmosis entitled "Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged." The website that published the article is dedicated to the lowest common denominator of men. And it is not a website any male friend of mine would frequent since I prefer to keep the company of men who are…you know…intelligent. I can't bring myself to actually link to the site because, frankly, that's what the administrators want…more attention. The article proclaimed that women are delusional and damaged if they think they are, in any way, attractive with short hair and that others are just lying if they say women are attractive with short hair. He goes on to say that women with short hair are deranged, demented and that we must be making some sort of political statement if we cut off our hair. But, in the end, for that "writer," it boils down to sexuality because surely, all women with short hair, are lesbians. The "writer" freely touts his opinion as universal fact and goes on to detail how one day, a woman with short hair came to his place and texted with one hand and performed a sexual act on him with the other…way to underscore your credibility as a writer there, Sparky. You just proved my point for me. Your argument is now invalid. Pictured below, Tuthmosis in his natural habitat.

Felicia Day, founder of the Geek & Sundry YouTube network and Nerd Queen to us all, recently cut her hair into a gorgeous short and chic messy do. Because she is in the spotlight, the trolls came out to play on YouTube (as they tend to do), leaving stupid, infuriating comments like, “Love your videos, will be back when you grow your hair out.” How does the length of her hair effect the content of her videos or her network? Answer: It doesn't. Comments like those reflect the narrow, pathetic views of an individual incapable of seeing the bigger picture. He succumbs to the Photoshopped version of beauty that is most likely plastered to his bedroom walls and in the magazines stashed under his bed. And in the process, he loses out on some fantastic original content and possibly, as Felicia points out herself in a response on Tumblr, missing out on a real-life woman/girl.

A few online trolls even went so far as to post "before and after" photos of Felicia to prove their point. The best part of this little trollful attack, is that the before picture ISN'T EVEN HER! Read her hilarious and always classy response on her Tumblr page.

So, what is it about short-haired women that society finds so mind-boggling? Why does the length of our hair define us as women? By cutting off our hair, are we making a bolder, political statement that we will not center our existence around a patriarchal society any longer? Are we actively telling men their opinion no longer matters to us? Are we making some sort of sexual declaration of lesbianism? We can ask ourselves these questions and get hundreds of different answers.

Here are mine:

When I shaved my head, I felt free. It was a liberating, cathartic experience that made me feel happy and new. It's a feeling that I hope all women can experience at some point in their lives. And I love having short hair! Partly because it suits me and partly because my hair is naturally thin and curly. Living in the desert, this is a horrible combination since the dry air dries out my hair and makes it a frizzy, brittle mess. My hair looks healthy for the first time in 5 years.  Do I struggle with my femininity? Occasionally. But not because of the short hair. I struggled with long hair, too. Unfortunately, I was not born with that innate ability to accessorize or style my hair with any Vogue-like sensibilities. I have to try…really try to feel pretty. Not because I'm not pretty but because it is a constant journey to search out my own beauty. For women, beauty is a great social and personal experiment. We play with different looks, haircuts, clothes, jewelry and types of makeup until we find the combination that suits us best. We fight a daily battle against society's expectations and the media's unrealistic, unrelenting barrage of Photoshopped, "ideal" beauty. Sometimes we come out victorious... sometimes we're able to look past all the crap and see ourselves for who we really are: gorgeous, unique creatures with infinite gifts to offer the world.

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  1. I will not lie, I am a fan of long hair, but will not discriminate because of it. My problem is that if I grow my hair long, I look like a microphone....and it weighs a freaking ton....3 tons when wet!

  2. I tried to keep my hair long for a very long time but in Las Vegas, the heat just makes it miserable and fries my hair. The decision to shave it off wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be…mostly because, I know I can grow it out again. As I said, it's just hair. And since I shaved it, I discovered just how freaking fast it actually DOES grow! I'm like a Chia-Head!