Hair Talk And Gender Roles

My daughter has always hated having long hair. In her younger years (she is nine, now) I thought it was because I often wore a pixie cut and she simply wanted to be like me. At about six years-old, it started with a bob. Two years ago, the bob got shorter. A few months ago, she came home with an asymmetrical bob that was pixie on one side and longer on the other. Today she started begging me to let her cut it all off. Super short. The pixie of all pixies.

I was reluctant.

“I won’t step on my hair during gymnastics, Mommy!” She pleads.

“But it would be very short.”

“I know!”

"I'm not so sure I want it to be so short."

She whines a little and says, "It will be like Ellen on TV. She's nice!"

That doesn't make me feel better. Growing up, I was under the mistaken impression that girls that wore their hair super short WERE like Ellen. What if people thought such things about my daughter. 

“Aren’t you…aren’t you…” I hesitate to say what was on the tip of my tongue and finally just spit it out. “Aren’t you afraid people will mistake you for a boy.”

She blinks, as if what I have just said is the most absurd thing in the world. “Wouldn’t they know I'm a girl because of my voice?” she asks. “Or because I like to wear dresses? The polish on my nails?”

I shrug a shoulder and realize she has a point, but what she says next is a punch in my gut. She screws up her nose in confusion and asks me, “Besides, what in the world is so bad about being mistaken for a boy?”

And that was it.

She can have her hair short if she wants. She can wear dresses. She can paint her nails. She is a girl. Clearly. She is courageous. She is different. She doesn't like to be like everyone else and she likes to be a little wild and crazy. Doesn't a pixie cut suit her?

Actually, it does...

And there’s nothing wrong with being mistaken for a boy.

Boys kick butt, too.

They’re pretty awesome, even. 

Who in the world knew it would be my children to teach me the absurdity of traditional gender roles.



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