I cut my hair the other night.
I’d been thinking about it for a few weeks, but had avoided actually doing it. I was afraid to cut it. Hair is a totem and a fetish in the spiritual sense, and the longer the hair, the more feminine power it accrues, and I wanted as much power as I could get in that regard.
Stuck in the no-person’s land of genderqueer, my long, curly hair was one of the few things that delivered me at times, albeit briefly, across the DMZ of gender to the side I’ve yearned to inhabit for so long.
So the thought of shearing off even a half-inch filled me with a dread and anxiety that made me feel like a failure.
A failure of a man, which I used to be, and a failure of a woman, which I’m not.
Sadness and frustration finally drove me to cut it.
The sadness came from looking at my hair after I conquered a certain style: curls that fell about my face and below my shoulders, and held securely out of my eyes with a narrow headband, invisibly hidden below the mane.
It. Looked. Fantastic. And I had no qualms about walking out of the house so coiffed.
To finally crack a stubborn nut – what a meaty reward!
But the brow bossing, chin, and nose remained, and did not look so fantastic to my eye, and made me look like a refugee from an 80’s hair band. I once had a guy ask to take their picture with me. He sent it to a friend as ‘proof’ he ran into Robert Plant.
The frustration came from how much time and effort it took to tame my hair. Coarse, thick, and often unruly unless plastered down with product, I frequently looked unkempt. More often than not, I was reaching for the scrunchies and going ponytail.
And what’s the point of long hair if it’s always in a ponytail? That’s like people who won’t dine on fine china because it’s too precious to use.
So in a mixture of resigned sadness and relief, and on the verge of tears, I cut my ponytail off.
I was going to get the clippers out and buzz myself down, but I really wanted to save some locks. I wrote a fictional short story about something like this a few weeks back; maybe that’s what I was really doing.
Killing a part of me. Again.
And then one of those strange things that happen when you least expect it happened before I reached for the clippers: my hair looked…OK. Maybe even better than OK, and I suddenly had a vision for a cute, shorter hairstyle, which I hacked away at for half an hour as best I could.
When I was done, I washed it, conditioned it, dried it, and styled it a little bit. And it still looked cute.
All of a sudden, I looked less like a middle-aged guy uncomfortably trying to look like a twenty-something woman, and more like a middle-aged person comfortable in their skin.
And by doing it myself, I found a new part of myself, which is what I’m most proud of.