“So does that mean you’re not getting married anytime soon?” a friend jokingly asked me. Her comment was in response to my pixie cut, the shortest my hair has ever been in a more than a decade. For anyone else, this comment would be irrelevant. But for a South Asian Muslim woman of “marriageable age,” cutting your hair short literally translates to sabotaging any prospects of getting married (although this was not my intention).
I’ve had medium length hair since I was eight. Growing up in the Middle East, I bore through the hot summers with my thick hair mopping down the back of my neck. I resisted my mother’s attempts to get my hair cut short, or as it was then popularly known, a “boy cut.” I just couldn’t get my hair cut short. Because girls must have long hair and only boys have short hair. It was an unwritten rule that was ingrained in my mind at a very young age.
As I grew up, I understood the silliness in the idea that short hair was only meant for boys. But even then, I couldn’t go through with the idea of getting my hair cut short enough to reveal my neck. Maybe I still hadn’t completely let go of the gender rules I was taught, maybe it was just the fear of possibly looking like an egg, but, I could never bring myself to go for the big chop.
But something changed in 2017. The monotony of millennial adult life had gotten to me. I needed a change. Something to make life interesting again for a short while. So, of course, I decided to get my hair cut short. It was a classic “get a makeover and conquer the world” kind of moment. But unknown to me at the time, my decision was more than just a momentary “pick me up.”
Everyone from my hairdresser to my closest friends praised me for my bold decision like it was some sort of accomplishment. I couldn’t help but wonder why. But, deep down I, too, felt like I had achieved something. My short hair made me feel powerful and in control.
This is my hair, my body, and my choice. So fuck you, society, for telling me that I must look a certain way.
You do not get to tell me how to look, how to dress or how to wear my hair. You do not get to tell me that only women with long hair look feminine. I am fabulous any way I choose to be.
I am more than my physical appearance. Fuck you for making me think otherwise.
If you can’t look past physical appearances, maybe you should grow a personality instead of asking me to grow (or cut) my hair.
Your opinion means nothing if it exists solely to belittle me.
Stop trying to sell me BS in the name of “constructive criticism.” I don’t care if you think my short hair makes me look “bitchy.” Stop telling me that I must do things a certain way. Stop making up rules about what the “right way” is. Respect and be supportive of my valid personal choices.
Now I know it sounds like a lot of emotion to go through from a new look that I decided to go for out of sheer boredom. But, the reality is that this change made me subconsciously understand the joy and satisfaction of breaking free from societal rules and expectations.
So wear that crop top, color your hair electric blue, get that tattoo you’ve always wanted. You are fabulous any way you choose to be.